The holiday season is not a time many homeowners looking to sell would want to list their homes — first because traditional wisdom says springtime is best, and secondly because it’s a pain to show a home when it’s family and party time.
But December 2020 is different, with social time being curbed or nonexistent, homes being sold through Zoom calls and virtual tours, and fewer buyers taking walk-through tours because of the pandemic. So this might be the IDEAL time to sell while keeping your sanity over the holidays!
An historic shortage of homes for sale has created a bumper crop of buyers, so making your home warm and inviting in photos, video, on smartphones, and in-person might get you a better price than ever. So yes —you should absolutely decorate your home during the holidays. The real question you should be asking is, how much? Redfin’s Julia weaver weighs in on this.
“One thing that happens to all homeowners is that we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff,” she says. “This is especially true of holiday decorations. As you begin decorating, channel your inner stager or designer. This year, for the sake of appealing to the buyers touring your home, use your best decorations as holiday accents without drawing attention away from your home’s best selling features.”
If it was large windows with expansive views of a chef’s kitchen that attracted you to your home, you can expect those to be features that attract the next buyer as well. “Don’t cover up your view with an excessively large Christmas tree and avoid filling your living room in snow globes, nutcrackers, and a large nativity scene. You want to accentuate your home with holiday decor, not bury it,” says Weaver.
Weaver describes how holiday decor can help prospective homebuyers imagine your house as their future home. “If you have a fireplace, decorate it with garland and hang stockings from the mantle. Use candles and essential oil diffusers with iconic scents of the season, such as pumpkin spice or balsam and cedar.” She also advises sellers to keep their homes clutter-free and to clean it regularly. “Belongings can easily begin to pile up during the holidays, so make sure you stay on top of it. Create an environment that makes prospective homebuyers feel comfortable and warm the moment they walk through your front door. You want them to feel at home.”
The holiday season often “dresses up” a neighborhood, making it more appealing to homebuyers during this time of year. And Weaver suggests that while “you don’t want to go overboard with your exterior holiday decorations, you’ll want to make your house shine along with the other homes on your block.” As for landscape maintenance, while your lawn may not be lush and your trees might be bare, make sure to pick up all the sticks, dead leaves, and any other debris and that your lawn is neatly trimmed. “Even during the colder months, a few weeds that poke up from the ground can make your lawn seem neglected,“ says Weaver. “If you have pictures of your home at alternative times of the year when your curb appeal is burgeoning with flora, these may also be a good idea to have available for homebuyers during home tours. This way, instead of homebuyers trying to picture your house in other seasons, they can just see it for themselves.”
If you ever noticed model home complexes, the lights are on all the time. No need to go overboard with 24-hour lighting, but when you know agents or buyers might be looking, make it bright. If a virtual or in-person tour is about to take place, turn on all the lights in your house. That means replacing burnt out light bulbs and fixing light switches that aren’t working. “You may also want to consider making all your interior lighting the same color temperature, such as a soft white which brightens rooms without giving you that institutional feel,” says Weaver.
As for the best marketing investment you can make this time or any time of year, it’s getting professional real estate photos taken. Research shows that professional photos (not unlike staging) can get your home sold faster and for more money. But do this BEFORE putting up the holiday decor, since they create a “time-stamp” of your listing.
Source: Redfin | TBWS