Holiday Listings: To Decorate or Not to Decorate?


holiday listingsThat is the question this time of year.

There are many reasons for sellers to list their homes this holiday season – including decreased supply resulting in increased demand from motivated buyers – but what do you tell your clients with regard to holiday decorations?

Of course, an undecorated house is an evergreen house, meaning it will look fresh and timely in listing photos and on home tours all season long (and possibly all year long). But will you be able to convince every seller to skip the wreath and forego the tree this Christmas? Most likely not. Preparing for a move and keeping a home clean for viewings is already stressful enough. Only a Grinch could say not to a few heart-warming decorations… right?

In light of the fact that this question arises every year and that Christmas isn’t the only holiday that inspires festive home accessorizing, we have created a few simple guidelines that should help you and your sellers navigate the gray area of holiday staging.

Don’t pull a Chevy Chase.

If you’ve ever watched Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase, you know exactly what we mean. If you haven’t, use the above photo as a reference point. Too many lights and decorations will distract from your home, rather than add to it… not to mention blind potential buyers. A single strand of lights along the roofline or picket fence and a tasteful wreath on the front will show your holiday spirit and showcase the property well, too. That’s Christmas curb appeal!

Decorate after taking photos.

Holiday decorations – for any holiday – can quickly date a listing photo. Viewers can instantly gauge how long a property has been on the market. If buyers shopping for a home in March discover a listing with photos of Christmas decorations, they may assume that the house is in some way less desirable than others or might make a lower offer than they would otherwise. Ask your sellers to wait until after the property has been photographed to decorate.

Or take two sets of photos.

On the other hand, pictures of an elegantly decorated home can spur an emotional response in winter buyers. If you have the budget or would like to offer a seasonal marketing package, take two sets of listing photos, one with decorations and one without. Just make sure to update all the photos on your listing as soon as the holiday has passed (or maybe even the day before).

holiday listings nice

Avoid heavily scented candles and other decorations.

As we mentioned in a previous post entitled Can You S(m)ell this House?, a recent study has found that complex scents can actually deter a home sale. Not to mention the fact that many people are allergic to perfumes. So put away those cinnamon-scented pinecones and extinguish your pumpkin spice candles. Simple, natural scents that don’t overpower are the way to go.

Clean, warm and welcoming is the name of the game during the holidays. Help potential buyers imagine themselves spending their next holiday in your home.

What do you advise your winter sellers to do?

One Comment

  • I think for sure you should decorate! What makes a prospective buyer feel for more at home than seeing a home decorated and all cozy for the holidays? That is certainly one of the best ways to make your home feel like someone else’s home and sell them!

    Like you said though, leave the decorations out of the listing photos. This isn’t a “how decorative is your house?” photo contest.

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