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Home Showings in the Salty Winter Weather
If your home is on the market now, maybe you are concerned about keeping up with the problems snow, ice and mud present for home showings and open houses. We are lucky that Hingham and other South Shore towns have not been host to the same mountains of snow we endured last year. In fact, our snowfall has been significantly below average. Until now.
The cold temperatures and tree-pulling winds can be positively painful, driveways are often glazed with ice, and salt crystals mix with sand and melting snow build up on the bottoms of our shoes and boots. Getting out of a nice warm car into a blast of “brisk” winter air, heavy coats trailing behind us, boots caked with ice, snow, salt and sand will bring us to your door quickly. At this point I am already rehearsing the routine to protect your carpets and floors.
Sand, grit, and debris follow every snowfall, and much of it ends up inside embedded in carpets or damaging hard floors. Walking on a smooth surface with a coating of snow grit on the bottom of your shoes is like sliding on sandpaper. But there are workarounds to protect flooring and carpeting.
Scheduled Showings and Open Houses
Home showings in the winter months are challenging to all involved, especially when the snow starts flying. But real estate knows no snow days.
As a full-time Realtor, the weather does not keep me from bringing buyers to you. In fact, the messy weather can be a good filter for window shoppers. It is almost always the serious buyers who are out and about during less than desirable weather and it is my job to make your home accessible to them.
If I list your home for sale it means that I will be actively generating quality traffic and providing access to potential buyers, no matter how much snow we have piled up around us. I honor all scheduled real estate showings and open houses, unless you, as the home seller, need to change the schedule. In all of my years as a Hingham Realtor, very few cancellation requests have been because of the weather. They are usually due to simple schedule conflicts on the part of the sellers or buyers.
Keep in mind that just because real estate agents can get there for an open house or a showing, doesn’t mean that you, as a home seller, feel comfortable leaving your home in bad weather. If the weather is dangerous, most Realtors, including me, put safety above and beyond everything else. Bringing your family out into unsafe conditions is not something I encourage. If the roads are treacherous, or if the power is out, then obviously we will reschedule.
Aside from the burdensome conditions that hinder our lives during the winter months, I understand that for those selling their homes, this routine winter weather increases the pressure of time. The reality is that there is a lot more involved in a home showing when snow, ice and mud factor into the preparation.
Clearing the sidewalk, driveways, and front steps of snow and ice is a priority for safety reasons, but also shows how well-maintained your house is. It does add extra time to your daily preparation for home showings and you might be thinking that all the salting and sanding could end up giving you double duty. Not only do you have to apply the material to your driveway and walks, but then you have to clean up after your home is shown. But you don’t have sign on for double duty.
It is my job to ensure that your home is as you left it. There is no need to incur any avoidable stress while your home is on the market. This is why I respectfully guide any potential buyers to follow some simple instructions that we put in place when I list your home. I use the “Special Instructions” section of a listing where I detail all showing instructions, including winter weather accommodations. I also like to see a small note on the sign-in form with specifics so that my colleagues are sure to be reminded. Having a system ensures that you will have less worry before leaving your home for showings, and the routine of the system ends up being a time saver.
You might have your home re-carpeted before selling, or your hardwood floors refinished. Salt and sand can reverse the benefits to your hard work and spent money. Salt crystals are like sandpaper and can dull or damage a finish on a hardwood floor. Once the surface is damaged, the underlying materials can be stained by water as well.
Covering the flooring is a common solution. Using towels and mats, but why hide one of your home’s nicest features? Flooring reflects light and does so much for the atmosphere in your house. Pathways of towels, tarps, sheets, and plastic belong in workspaces, not your gorgeous home.
I know that each home has a unique set of rules, likes, dislikes and ways of doing things and these things deserve to be respected. When it comes to selling your house, Realtors have the knowledge and experience to offer you guidance regarding showings. If removing shoes is something embedded in your home culture, then, by all means, there are ways to accommodate this (A heated and oft debated topic could make for a lengthy real estate article!).
To this end, many people offer simple paper booties when show removal is an issue Since there are many people who are not comfortable removing their shoes for a variety of reasons, the shoe coverings are a good option. They are made of a paper material and an elastic at the top so that they easily slide over any shoe. Many contractors use them and they can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot.
If you go this route, it is helpful to use a designated basket to hold a roll of paper towels, some small terry cloth towels and the paper booties. This way, all the items are in one place and the protocol is clear. Next to the basket of “supplies,” should be a small, tasteful wastepaper basket (not a trash can) one would use in the office.
Have a medium sized mat at the doorway if you do not have a mud room or foyer area. When a group of people bundled in bulky coats, hats, scarves and gloves are jostling to remove shoes and outerwear, snow clumps and slush can end up a distance from the door. If there is an active snowstorm, outerwear is likely to also have snow on it, so prepare for this as well. If you have hangers or hooks, make sure the snow won’t met and drip onto the floor below, and if you do not have hooks for coats etc, designate a mat or area for all of this stuff while we look at your home.
Think about where to put wet boots too. Boot trays are handy and I like to see my sellers have several on hand. These trays have a small lip and prevent the water from melted snow from leaking all over the mat or floor. As for umbrellas, I usually insist that these be left outside of your door.
If asking people to cover or remove shoes seems like too much to ask, then you can add some mats. Adding a good mat outside of your entrance will help trap the debris to some extent and another large mat inside, if it doesn’t obscure the effect of your flooring, will add another drop off point for debris. This way, shoes will be a little bit cleaner when they hit the floor.
Although this may seem like a lot of work, it shows how much you care about your home. And if you do get salt on the floors, it is easy enough to clean up using a drop of vinegar in water, and a damp rag or towel. The key is to act on this as soon as possible, even before it dries. Salt is corrosive and works wonders outside during the winter, but will damage the beauty of your flooring or carpet.