Deck the Halls? Maybe Not, If Your Home Is For Sale

For many buyers and sellers, December is still an active real estate market. Serious buyers will view homes and negotiate contracts right up until Christmas Eve.

It’s a good time for sellers to have their homes listed, because competition is slim — conventional wisdom and history trend toward listing in the spring. But listing a home in December begs the question: should you decorate your home for the holidays, or skip it?

Prepping a home for sale is a dilemma for many sellers, at any time of year. After spending considerable time and energy decorating their home to express their personality, they feel reluctant to take down their photos and put away treasured items. The same goes for holiday decorations, which hold sentimental value for many homeowners. But as much as the seller would like to show off their holiday decor and create a festive atmosphere for their family, it may be better to hold back while the home is on the market.

Less is more in real estate

No matter what time of year a home goes on the market, real estate agents always advise sellers to keep it simple when it comes time to list. An over-personalized home with bright paint colors, lots of family photos or off-putting art on the walls can turn off buyers.

For sellers, presenting their home to the market in the most neutral light is a better strategy. The more neutral the home shows, the more marketable it will be, and the wider the net it can cast.

The same is true for holiday decorations — understated is better.

Religion can be off-putting to buyers

If you live in a part of the country where Christianity is less common, your fireplace nativity scenes or religious decorations may alienate some buyers. It’s best to keep them packed away.

These suggestions are not meant to insult a seller’s religion or beliefs, but simply reflect the business aspects of selling a home. Sellers must remember that, once their home goes for sale, it is no longer their home, but a product on the open market. To best position their product for a swift sale, it’s important to appeal to as many buyers as possible.

Commercial decorations are more acceptable

For a family with small children, typical commercial holiday decorations such as Christmas trees, stockings and lights may be unavoidable, even if their home is on the market. To some degree, people will expect this.

Will it still alienate some non-Christian buyers? Possibly, but it won’t have the same effect as more religious decorations.

While it is impossible to define what would be inoffensive to every person in every market around the country, sellers should be mindful of who their potential buyers are and how their home and its decorations show.

For fear of insulting them, many agents avoid having this conversation with their clients — but it’s an important one nonetheless. If your home is on the market, take a step back and evaluate before you decorate.