This may be the most wonderful time of the year…but as we all know, that doesn’t usually extend to the Real Estate market. If you aren’t putting a painful dent in the down payment fund with all that shopping, then you’re busy with party after party, family in town for visits, etc. For all of its seasonal traditions, December is not traditionally the season for Real Estate. For that reason many home sellers understandably feel that putting much effort into staging or prepping their homes during the holidays is just that…too much effort. Well they would be wrong. Because that just means that those who ARE looking are very serious indeed…and definitely intend to buy.
This doesn’t mean a lot of extra work beyond what you are already doing. Just a holiday twist on your attention to detail will do quite nicely. Follow these holiday home staging tips and find your stocking well stuffed when the fat man comes to town, or at least a home buyer with a fat wallet!
Stage Your Home, Not a Revival
Remember that while this may be a very spiritual time of year for you, many of your potential home buyers are likely to have a different take on it than you. Don’t beat potential buyers over the head with anything too religious in nature, but just some neutral holiday cheer and good will. You are out to sell your home, not convert the buyer.
Tip: Leave the life-sized Jesus & Mary lawn ornaments packed away this year (they’ll understand). If you must do lawn decorations (see below), keep them to snowmen, deer and maybe Santa. The big Star of David or Nativity scene are great, just not this year. These will put off some of your potential home buyers. Just remember to keep things neutral.
Play Up The Coziness Of The Season
This is already a cold and gray time of year so there’s no reason your home should greet potential buyers looking and feeling the same. Take advantage of the many advantages this holiday season affords us to play upon the senses and bring warmth and cheer to any space.
Tip: Logs nicely stacked in a (completely cleaned) fireplace, some cinnamon scented candles placed decoratively around the house, even a bit of apple cider warming on the stove…all go a long way to increase the warmth and appeal of your home. Don’t forget some holiday themed (NOT religious themed) centerpieces on the dining and coffee tables as well as a beautiful wreath on the front door.
Clean and Reduce Before You Spruce
Normal staging rules apply during the holidays and are even more important when factoring in decorative additions. If all you are doing is adding decorations to an already cluttered, dirty and messy house, you aren’t doing anyone any favors…least of all yourself.
Tip: Completely clean your house before decorating. And by clean I mean actually do a real cleaning, not just straighten up your stacks of magazines and hide stuff in closets. Vacuum and sweep everywhere, then scrub/mob/polish any and all hard floor surfaces. Thoroughly clean out your fireplace, completely clean your oven(s) and range, degrease ALL kitchen surfaces and the outside of ALL appliances. Pull out your washer and dryer and THOROUGHLY clean behind each and the floors in laundry room as well. Clean all drapes and blinds. Finally, reduce, reduce, reduce. Your knick·knacks are (trust us on this) of interest only to you and should be put away now. Get your books tidy and on bookshelves, those that don’t fit must also go away. Get everything off the floor that doesn’t absolutely belong there and that doesn’t add to your efforts to sell your home. That means the dog bed, pet and kids toys and the Rumba that the cat likes to ride around the house on….put it all away because potential home buyers don’t want to see any of it. The fact is simply that a cluttered house remains your house, nobody will be interested in making it their own.
Only after you have cleaned up and seriously reduced clutter should you begin to decorate and add anything for the holiday.
Don’t Let Your Tree Eat Your Living Room
Many of us love a big tree. If mine isn’t threatening to break through the ceiling, I’m just not satisfied. But again…not this year. Your goal is to show off and sell your home. If your Christmas tree is so large that the base of it has devoured 30% of your living room floor and branches are breaking through windows, it’s NOT going to help you sell your house. A small tree beautifully trimmed will always do the trick.
Tip: If you have large vaulted ceilings in a living room that just begs for a large tree to look in proportion, just be sure to get a tree that is tall AND slender. Douglas Fir is one that comes to mind.
Make Sure Your Holiday Decorating Matches Your Home Style
This might be the year to keep the macaroni ornaments your kids made, as well as the popcorn garland your grandma strung together, in the keepsake box until next year. We all cherish the decorations that mark the dogs first Christmas…but none of those will help sell your house. It’s really important to keep all decorations and tree trimmings stylish and all-appealing. A good gauge is to check out trees and decorations in the department stores at the mall. They all follow and strictly adhere to a current modern and stylish theme and color scheme. You need to do the same. Put the hand-made and handed down heirloom decorations away until next year.
Tip: If your home is painted in earth tones, keep your tree trimming to colors that compliment that palette. Use deep greens, golds, rich deep reds (not fire engine or candy apple).