House for sale on a rainy day - Selling your home in an El Nino yearSelling your home in an El Niño year? It’s not impossible, but you may want to do things a little differently!

Home buyers need to buy no matter what the weather is like, and the most serious ones are not put off but inclement weather. The trick is to maximize your sales price and minimize inconvenience and risk to everyone involved.  To that end, here are a few tips from my professional experience.  The rainy season will likely go through March or April, with the spring months being the peak selling season most years.

First, safety tips for selling your home in an El Niño year:

  1. Safety tips for selling your home in an El Niño year: if home buyers come in soaking wet, it’s good to have a non-slip mat (as opposed to a towel on slippery tile) for them to step onto with their wet shoes so they don’t fall and get hurt.  If there’s a back door that they might use to view the yard, have a non-slip mat there too.
    • Also, make sure that there are no obstructions in getting to the house, such as cars in the driveway (if it’s pouring, they want the shortest walk possible), garden hoses where someone may want or need to step over them, toys, or anything that could be a trip hazard or a bad surprise to the face, such as low hanging bushes or trees that reach over the walkway. When it’s raining, sometimes people walk with their heads down and aren’t paying as much attention to their surroundings.
  2. Related to the first point, if you would like them to remove shoes or put on shoe covers / booties, provide a place to sit so that they don’t get injured in the process of respecting your wishes.  Some home buyers will be wearing laced shoes or boots.  Others may be older or have balance problems.  Do not expect them to be able to stand on one foot while trying to get the covers on.  If you have a covered front porch, a bench there is fine – just have the shoe covers available there too.
  3. Please consider adding an umbrella stand, or a place for umbrellas, on the front porch or the entry hall so that your prospective home buyers are not obligated to carry a wet one through your home.

Additional tips for selling your home in an El Niño year:

Next, focus on creating a comfortable and inviting environment for home buyers and their real estate agents.

  1. With heavy cloud cover, even the brightest houses can appear to be dark, so lighting is more important than ever.   Do you have dark areas in the home?  If you have enough lead time, you might consider hiring an electrician to add recessed lights, wall sconces or other fixtures.  Table lamps will not have nearly as large an impact as lights up high, and in some cases the low lighting may make a home feel darker due to the shadows being cast.  The vast majority of home buyers who see a house as light feel much happier about the prospect of living there.
  2. Natural light is important too.  Make sure you open your curtains wide!  Many curtains do not entirely clear the window, so consider adding a pull-back.
  3. Decluttering is extra important during inclement weather, as visitors may be wearing raincoats or holding umbrellas and literally need more space as the pass through rooms.  Make sure that delicate and breakable objects are away from the traffic pattern.
  4. Do occasionally open your home up a bit to let fresh air in so that the house does not become stuffy.
  5. Be sure to run bathroom fans a little longer on rainy days so that humidity does not build up, which may cause odors and lead to mildew.
  6. Keep your house at a comfortable temperature, even if you are gone to work all day.  Home buyers who are uncomfortable will not linger in the house, and if they don’t linger, they won’t buy!  Keep your thermostat set to at least 67 degrees.
  7. Do not burn candles, use scented electronic devices or air fresheners with odors as these are red flags for home buyers – it implies that you are hiding something. Just keep things clean to prevent unpleasant odors.
  8. The overcast days and early evenings of winter make for less appealing yards. Some landscape lighting or accents can make it more welcoming. Solar garden lights are a low cost way  to create an appealing yard (and improve safety, if near walkways) on the darker, wetter days.
  9. If you have moved out of the home and aren’t there to turn on lights, consider getting timers for lighting in and outside of the house. Having the front porch and garage lights on timers is really helpful for showings after sunset. Alternatively, leave those lights on all the time.

These are the tips specific to rainy, wet, cloudy, dark days – many of them will apply to other conditions, and this is not an exclusive list of what you need to do to maximize the sale price and net when selling your home in an El Niño year.

Related reading on this site to

Tips for selling your home in an El Niño year:  Home selling

Related reading on Home selling tips (multiple articles)

Related reading on my Live in Los Gatos blog:  The race to beat El Niño for home sellers (tips on what to do NOW, before the rain starts)