Many Sellers think that the housing market comes to a standstill around the holidays. In fact, that was mostly true for a long time. Between Halloween and New Year’s was traditionally the “slow” period.  But in today’s economy, that’s just not true anymore. Mortgage iterest rates are still low, and there’s still a lot of Buyers out there.  Buyers shopping for homes during this time are more motivated and deadline-driven. They may be looking to relocate for a new job before the start of the new year, or they may want to close a deal before the end of the tax year. They will traverse a snow storm to go to an open house if need be. These are “serious” Buyers. And the best part, for the Seller, is that there is fewer competition. That gives the Seller an advantage when it comes to negotiating. The Buyer won’t be in a position to take a “I’ll just go to the next house” position, when there is no “next house” to go to.

So, now it’s the holiday season, and you’ve decided to start the ball rolling on the sale of your house.  Should you put the holidays on hold for you and your family, or go ahead and decorate your home? There are two lines of thinking. There are both merits and things to avoid in both options:

Why you should decorate

There is never a reason to pretend the holidays don’t exist. After all, you still live in the house. Decorate your house so you and your family can celebrate the season. This also offers potential Buyers a festive experience, helping them to envision themselves and their family in the same house celebrating the same holiday.

Plus, if you live in a neighborhood where most of the homes are decorated, then your home will not stand out as the one not “fitting in” with the community.

However, when decorating your home, it should be done conservatively, keeping these tips in mind:

  • Different Buyers come from different religions, so keep it secular
  • You never know how people react to “loud” decorations, so use neutral colors that complement your current décor
  • Do not over-decorate. Simple is best. Too many decorations could give your home a cluttered look, and also cause a potential tripping hazard
  • Along those same lines, avoid decorations that hide important features of your home
  • And, for obvious security concerns, don’t leave Christmas gifts under your tree where Buyers have access to them during showings

Why You Shouldn’t Decorate

First impressions are important and holiday decorations could negatively affect your home’s appeal. It may make your house seem small and cramped, or worse – it could end up being a distraction for Buyers who are try to see themselves living in the home.

Different people have different religions and/or beliefs. It’s difficult to be mindful of the feelings of every potential Buyer. Will your decorations offend someone? Some reasons to skip the holiday decorations include:

  • Potential Buyers can be alienated by religious items
  • Displaying certain personalized decorations and/or holiday cards could be a security risk, whereas they may reveal private details of your life
  • And the obvious reason: An unkept Christmas tree that is shedding its needles gives the appearance of untidiness and clutter – and it could hamper access to another area of the house or block a feature that could help sell the home

If decorations are what you want, it would be a good idea to have professional photographs of your home taken prior to doing so. This is a way to allow Buyers to be able to see what your house looks like under normal conditions at other times of the year.