Selling during the holidays

By Diana Dietz | Dec. 4, 2012 | 3 min. read

It’s a valid question during this time of year when selling a home – should you decorate?

As with most topics involving the buying and selling of real estate, there is no “right” answer on whether clients should decorate their homes or not. Buyers may not be turned off by decorations but can be turned off by too much decorating which makes it difficult to try to see the aspects of the home.

Several PAR members offer their perspectives:

“I don’t think decorating helps sell a house,” said Philadelphia Realtor® Fred Glick. “Someone has to be interested based on location, price, condition, etc. Run a December price special that expires on Christmas Day. This will get people’s interest up!”

“Our agents advise our sellers to keep decorations simple and classy, and most importantly uncluttered,” said Audubon Realtor® Kathy Opperman. “Homes can look very warm and inviting during the holidays and our agents are always available to give the seller advice at the property. Whether it is selling tips during the holidays or not, the principals are the same. Allow the buyer the ability to picture their furniture and their holiday decorations, such as a tree, in the home, but keep rooms and counters as uncluttered as possible. And keep colors as neutral. For example, red, green or burgundy candles, and white lights are good, but spray snow on windows and tons of Christmas Villages may not be good. Anything that distracts the buyer from seeing room sizes and their flow will hurt at any time of the year.”

“Most of my end-of-year sales are all about the 2012 tax year,” said Ashland Realtor® Helen Miernicki. “Fifty percent of my homes are sold to investors. Sometimes the numbers reflect the outcome (sell or purchase).”

“If buyers have time during this season to look at homes, they are serious and not just window shopping,” said Kim Skumanick, PAR’s incoming president-elect. “I encourage sellers to decorate tastefully, set the dining room table with linens and dishes (add an extra table leaf if you can to showcase a larger dining room), light the fireplace, and have a plate of freshly baked cookies on the kitchen counter. Help the buyers to imagine their own celebration in this home. Many of my buyers during the winter months are relocating, so a list of holiday observations and celebrations in the area, the neighborhood cookie exchange, or local concerts and performances makes a great takeaway for the buyer.”

A recent survey of real estate professionals by found that if homes are listed for sale during the holidays, 37 percent say that sellers should put out some non-religious holiday decorations to make the home feel inviting, 80 percent say sellers should light the fireplace before a showing and 62 percent say to update the outdoor lighting, since in the winter a buyer is more likely to see a home at night.

That said, 82 percent said that online listing photos are more important for homes listed during the holidays and 74 percent said pricing the home to sell is more critical than during other times of the year. Forty percent said home staging matters more for homes listed in December.

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