Your Home on the Market: Avoid Turning Buyers Off During the Holiday Season

Here's how to edit your holiday decor to better showcase your home.

It’s that time of year again, when your neighborhood, maybe even your home turns into a festive display of holiday decor, but there is a fine line between tasteful and cluttered. Welcoming buyers into a home for sale covered in holiday decor with a life-size bloody Frankenstein, bats flying above and a dreary cemetery in the front yard isn't something most buyers want to come home to.

Sometimes it's hard enough to get sellers to agree to remove certain objects or tone down accessories in their home or front lawn. So when it comes time to decorate with ghosts and goblins around Halloween, gourds at Thanksgiving, or put out the menorah or Christmas lights and trees in December, how can you show off your holiday spirit without going overboard or offending buyers?

In many cases a buyer will get distracted with the holiday decor and overlook the curb appeal. While holidays like Thanksgiving and New Years are celebrated by most, Hanukkah and Christmas are religious holidays that buyers could discriminate against.

It's important for sellers to consider the neighborhood they live in before decorating. If a neighborhood is festive during Christmas, then a buyer would expect Christmas decorations in the home for sale. On the other hand, if the home is in a more politically correct neighborhood with a mix of religious beliefs, use more generic decorations to promote season's greetings rather than a specific holiday.

Some sellers may feel it’s easier to take a home off the market during this time of year, but can you afford to lose those months? Keeping a home on the market can be beneficial because there is usually less inventory, and those looking to buy are serious. If the plan is to keep that “for sale” sign up during the holidays, make sure to limit decorations to get a maximum return on a home’s investment.

Here are some tips to keep the home festive despite being on the market.

Exterior Decorating

  • Keep the tinsel, garlands and most of those blow-up characters in storage.

  • The entrance should be simple.

  • Use more natural elements: For fall add pumpkins, stacks of hay, cornstalks and don't forget to plant some mums (you can also prepare the home for spring now by planting daffodils and tulips).

  • For winter, group poinsettias and use evergreens to create floral arrangements.

  • Door wreaths welcome all to your home and set the stage for celebrating.

  • Use holiday colors that work with your home's exterior colors.

  • Use a few strands of white lights for elegance or keep to a color scheme. Forget about the multi-color strands this year.

  • Most importantly, refrain from objects attributable to specific religions

Scene Stealers Inside

During staging it's important to make focal points stand out, so don't block or cover up fireplaces, stairs, stained-glass windows and any other features that are unique to the home.

Rooms filled with decorations can feel smaller and will stop the buyer from visualizing themselves in the space. Choose specific areas to stage with festive themes. We want buyers to see themselves celebrating their holidays in the house – to do this create a simple, clean, cozy space with decorations.

  • Set the formal dining room for Thanksgiving or Hanukkah dinner.

  • Bring in a Christmas tree, but make sure it's not over-sized.

  • Use natural elements to bring in texture and interest like an evergreen garland or pine cone centerpiece.

  • Color is also important to keep in mind and make sure you keep within a color scheme. Red is not only the color of Christmas, but it's an emotionally appealing color that can be used in the space.

  • Don't forget to think about what the holidays mean, then create the scene in your home. Would your buyer love decorating the tree? Creating a gingerbread house? Or sitting by the fire?

  • Play into using the five senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste – to make buyers emotionally connected to the space and feel at home.

Though as a seller you may not be able to decorate as they would like to this holiday season, you can still celebrate those traditions, take part in holiday activities (on or off the property) and show off your holiday spirit by welcoming buyers into what can potentially be their new home.

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