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Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Will Holiday Decorations Help You Sell?

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Christmas Decorations in Older Home

Holiday decorations can have an adverse affect on home selling.

© Big Stock Photo
If you ask a real estate agent, "Should I keep my home on the market over the holidays?" an agent will tell you, "Yes, absolutely, because then you know buyers are serious." You know what I think about that? I'll cut to the chase. It's hogwash. If you don't have to sell between Thanksgiving and New Year's, take your home off of the market.

Why Your Home Should Be Off the Market Over the Holidays

  • Buyers will think you are desperate.

  • It's inconvenient to always be ready to show at a moment's notice.

  • The offers you receive will likely be for less than list price.

  • You're appealing to a much smaller inventory of buyers who have very specific needs that your home might not match.

  • It's almost impossible to close a transaction in December if the offer is received mid-month. Buyers who want to close in January make offers in January.

  • If you remove your home from the market, it can go back as a new listing in January, thereby drawing more traffic because it's fresh.

  • Your agent might be on vacation in December and unavailable.

Some sellers insist on leaving their homes on the market, regardless. The deciding factors depend on local custom, on what neighbors are doing and how real estate activity is viewed by others during the holiday season in your area. Every town is different. There are neighborhoods in California where, if you didn't see plastic Santa Clauses tied to palm trees, you might never know it was Christmas.

Still, less inventory over the holidays means less competition. However, when the pool of buyers drops, the remaining balance of inventory might not make much difference. In parts of the country where it snows, buyers think twice about bundling up in heavy coats, boots and gloves to trudge through snow banks and look at property when they'd rather be out shopping or staying at home in front of the fireplace.

If You Leave Your Home on the Market

Should you put out those blue and white candles and prominently display your menorah? What about hanging a wreath on your door or showcasing a Christmas tree in front of a window? What's overdoing it? What's not?

People carry biases and prejudices with them. Why give them more information than they need to know about you? By not decorating, you are protecting your privacy during home showings. You are also making your home feel more spacious without blocking pathways. When buyers enter your home, you want them to imagine putting their own furniture in each room, making it theirs, and they can't do that if your holiday decorations dominate the stage.

Holiday Decorating Compromises for Stubborn Sellers

If you discard advice not to decorate and do it anyway, at least keep the decorations to a minimum. Don't block or cover up important selling features such as fireplace mantels, stairs, stained-glass windows.

  • Tone down the size of tree. In place of a 10-foot tree, try decorating a table-top, four-foot version.

  • Stack wrapped presents in a closet or in one corner.

  • Use more splashes of red than green because red is an emotionally appealing color.

  • Resist the urge to hang banners and use greenery instead such as evergreen or rosemary garlands.

  • Display centerpieces made from pine cones or other wintry pieces of nature.

  • Never leave candles burning unattended.

  • Set a plate of cookies on the counter, next to festive paper napkins for guests.

  • Simmer spicy apple cider on the stove, and set out cups and ladle.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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