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Q: What advice can you give for selling your home in the winter?

A: As most savvy buyers and sellers know, spring is the peak season for home sales. But job and lifestyle changes can sometimes make it imperative to sell during the winter months.

Northwest winters can make it difficult for your home to look its best and attract other buyers who, like you, need to relocate in the winter. The following steps can help brighten your home and make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Make your home accessible. Make sure there is always a path to your door by continually clearing away snow, leaves or other yard debris.

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Make sure the sidewalk and any steps are not slippery from rain or ice. When in doubt, sprinkle a layer of sand to ensure stable footing. If you are holding an open house on a rainy day, put a rubber mat by the front door and a container to hold wet umbrellas.

Create a warm welcome. On damp, cold days — and especially during an open house — keep your home a degree or two warmer than usual, and set the thermostat to maintain that temperature so visitors feel a welcoming warmth when they enter your home.

A higher temperature setting will also ensure that the heat won’t kick on when a potential buyer is present, which is especially important if you have a loud HVAC system.

A toasty house will also give a buyer more motivation to linger and give your house serious consideration. If you have a fireplace, a cozy fire can also create a mood of comfort and homey charm.

Keep it light. Make sure drapes are pulled back on all of the windows to let in as much light as possible. Pull up blinds and open shutters. (The only exception would be blinds which reveal undesirable outdoor scenery — keep those closed.)

Your goal is to create an open, airy feeling in your home. Turn on every light in the house, including above appliances and in closets. This trick will help even a house with limited windows to appear bright and cheerful.

You can also brighten darker rooms by adding a few spotlights on the floor behind furniture. The one light you want to keep off, however, is the one from the TV screen. You want potential buyers to be concentrating on the merits and features of your home and not the score of the football game.

For the outside of your home, consider motion sensors to light up the walkway or the front door area when a buyer approaches.

Appeal to the senses. Music playing softly in the background can enhance the mood of the house, but don’t use a commercial radio station. Instead, stream light and unobtrusive music via the Internet or set a CD to play continuously during a showing or open house.

To make the house seem appealing year-round, display photographs showcasing your summer flower garden or the back deck with charming flower pots on it.

Creating pleasing smells is another effective tool when showing a house. But be careful — many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers. Instead of using air fresheners or burning candles, bake cookies or heat apple cider with cinnamon.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to

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