As the pumpkins and cornstalks give way to pine cones and mistletoe, you might be tempted to take your home off the market - particularly if you’ve already endured a long and fruitless summer buying season. But think twice before you take that step, because selling during the holidays - while tricky - can have some advantages, if you do it right.
First off, if you’re planning on having a number of holiday entertaining events at your home, or it’s an absolute must that you participate in your neighborhood’s extreme-decorating-extravaganza, this might not be the best time to sell. Rather than trying to squeeze in showings between parties or risk blinding prospective buyers with your light show, just temporarily de-list your home and put it back on the market once the holiday season has settled down.
But, if you have some scheduling flexibility this time of year and can follow some modest decorating guidelines, consider keeping your home listed during the holidays. You’ll generally have less competition, which gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd. You’ll have the end of the year working in your favor, too, as buyers seek to take advantage of any tax incentives by December 31. And, generally speaking, people don’t go shopping for houses during the holidays unless they’re really serious, which means you’ll have more motivated buyers coming through. To make the most of this time, though, you’ll want to make your home as warm, appealing and inviting as possible.
Sell the House at the Front Door
As at any time, your home’s first impression is critical. Hang a nice wreath on the front door, and put out a few poinsettias for the porch. Invest in a new doormat. You’ll be amazed at what a difference such small changes will make to your home’s entrance. And while a few outdoor decorations are acceptable, keep the huge inflatable Santa or motorized snow globe in storage. While they’re fun and the kids will probably love them, they block people’s view of the house and yard, turn some prospective buyers off and generally distract them from seeing the beauty of your home.
Keep It Neutral
While most people share the festive spirit around the holidays, not everyone shares the same religious beliefs, so avoid any overtly religious decorations in your home. Stow the menorahs or crosses, and instead focus on natural decorations such as pine cones in a basket, or fresh garland draped over the mantle. Christmas trees are fine, if you choose to have one. Just keep that the center of your decorations, keep the presents tucked away in a closet and save the nativity set for your new home.
Spread the Warmth
Cold, dark houses don’t sell, so keep the place warm - literally and figuratively. Even if you no longer live in the house, keep the thermostat at a comfortable level and have lamps on timers to ensure the home is well-lit. Keep blinds open during showings to let in as much light as possible. If you have a fireplace, use it - under appropriate supervision, of course. Have fresh-baked cookies from the oven or cider simmering on the stove. Can you remember a time when you’ve been outside on a cold, winter night and have seen a warm, cozy house all lit up from inside? That is the feeling you should be trying to invoke with your home.
Remember that home buying, while certainly a huge financial decision, is also an emotional one - and what better time to stoke those homey feelings than at the holidays? Letting potential buyers see the home at its best during those chilly winter days helps them envision celebrating their own holidays there someday. And who knows, you might just wind up with the best holiday present of all - a “sold” sign in the front yard!
This guest post was contributed by Kelly Parker Huffor, a freelance writer covering an array of real estate topics. Kelly is a native Houstonian who permanently transplanted to Austin after earning a degree from the University of Texas. She is a former corporate trainer who now spends her time managing Camp Huffor, wrangling two young children, and enthusiastically supports the Texas Longhorns.