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  • Writer's pictureDebbie DeMarais

Selling Your Home During the Holidays? Seasonal Décor Tips For When Your Home Is On The Market

UPDATED November 17, 2023


The real estate market never sleeps. Homes are sold year ‘round and that includes the holidays. If you put your home on the market during the holidays, here are some things to consider regarding your holiday décor. The answer is not “Go all out!” Here’s why.


Single holiday bauble ornament photo by jmiltenburg at Morguefile.com


When to decorate when selling your home


If you want to use holiday décor to create a festive atmosphere for your family and friends, I strongly recommend you consider doing it after the real estate photographs are taken. That way, should the home not sell immediately, your photos online will not overtly convey a timestamp once the holidays are over.


In February, a real estate listing with holiday décor screams dated, which can lead potential buyers to assume all manner of things about why a house hasn’t sold. Those snap judgements result in fewer people spending time looking at the listing online, and that can lead to your home being on the market for even longer.


I try to remind my clients that the online listing photos are not an invitation to showcase your holiday décor, nor a contest for the best tree! They are a marketing tool with a very specific goal — to sell your home as soon as possible for the highest potential amount.



What if decorating for the holidays simply can’t wait?


I understand. You want to dress your home for the holidays for family and friends so you can all enjoy the season — especially as this is probably your last year in this particular home. I have certainly encountered this dilemma in the past. To make sure extra décor doesn’t contribute to a cluttered look in photographs online, I have a few suggestions.



1. Pare it down


It’s always important to declutter and reduce the number of items in a home for sale at any time of year. But doing so during the most wonderful time of the year is especially critical. It will probably require you to edit your regular décor accessories as you bring out the holiday ornaments.


Rather than decking the halls with your entire collection of nutcrackers, Santa’s or angels, pick one or two to use as a centerpiece with a couple candles, or add your favorite item to a cluster of poinsettias on a dining table or fireplace mantel. It can look elegant, uncluttered, and even help draw attention to a desirable architectural feature in the house.



2. Keep holiday décor to just two rooms


To keep the holiday décor at a minimum, limit it to one or two rooms. The living room and dining room are the two most common rooms for such decor, as these are the public spaces for entertaining in most homes. Kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms should stay free of holiday décor. Remember, you’re trying to get a potential buyer to see themselves living in your home. This is why homes for sale should always be edited down to remove overly personal items. The holidays hold many emotional connections for most people, and seeing how your family celebrates the holidays may prevent a buyer from imagining their own traditions in the space.

I know that entertaining during the holidays is particularly important to many people. If you do plan to entertain, feel free to pull out all the stops for the event — but be prepared to tuck it all away before your next showing or open house.



3. Where should the Christmas tree go?


Even if you traditionally put the tree front and center, when your home is on the market, Christmas trees should be placed in a corner or away from regularly trafficked areas. Allowing buyers the ability to walk a clear and easy path between furniture and through rooms is always critically important when trying to sell a house.


If you have a live tree, make sure to keep it healthy and watered. Turn on the tree lights (and of course, the other lights in the room) for showings and photographs. In general, it is best to keep your gifts out of sight during showings and photos. Gifts, and gift-giving, can spark all manner of emotions in people, so it is best to play down this aspect in your holiday decor. A couple of tastefully wrapped presents under the tree is fine, but piles and piles of gifts are not ideal when potential buyers visit the house.



4. Go for a shorter time frame


When you’re selling your home during the holidays and need to decorate, schedule it for a shorter time frame than what you would normally decorate. Rather than setting everything up the day after Thanksgiving, wait a couple of weeks, then remove it shortly after Christmas, rather than after January 5th.


Two evergreen wreathes on white doors photo by gleangenie at Morguefile.com

5. Keep the outdoor décor to an absolute minimum


Holiday greenery flanking your entrance is fine. Adding boughs of greenery in flower pots with a collection of pine cones gives a festive look and can even fill the void of empty vessels. I do recommend staying away from fake flowers.


Just make sure everything is fresh, green, and welcoming. A garland or wreath that looks like it has been through all kinds of weather or is outdated gives an unfavorable first impression. You never want that first impression to give the buyer pause, wondering if the inside is as unfavorable as the outside.


I always recommend my clients remove all yard art prior to listing their home for sale. And this is especially true for the holidays. Blow up Santas, reindeer on the roof, candy canes in the landscaping — it’s best to keep those in their boxes for your new home.



You want to sell a buyer their home, not yours


Buyers want to see if your home has the potential to be their home. Too much décor prohibits their ability to look past the emotional connections you have created with your holiday traditions. Selling the home means allowing buyers to envision creating their own traditions with their loved ones.

If you simply can’t resist going all out... If your family insists on making Christmas as fun and festive and full of ornaments, stockings, and blow-up lawn decorations… If you want to do up the holidays as you’ve always done, then just wait to put your home on the market until after the holidays. Allow yourself one more holiday extravaganza in your home, and then set your sights for listing as soon as possible in the new year.


If you ever need help, that’s what I’m here for


Especially considering the emotional attachments the holidays bring, it can be difficult to part with these traditions, even when it means getting a better price for your home. I can help you pare down so you have a better chance of getting your listing noticed, and getting quality offers even during the height of the holiday season.



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