Vol 7 No. 11 - December 6, 2006

Ditch the dancing Santas for holiday home sales
By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

Don’t you just hate when people cheerily ask you if you’re ready for the holidays? This usually means: Have you purchased your gifts, have you planned your parties and is your house decorated? If you’re a homeowner who has their property up for sale this time of year, it could be the best of times or it could be the worst of times, and it may all depend on the dancing Santas.

One of the cardinal rules of selling your home is to eliminate clutter. Real estate professionals traditionally tell sellers to clear off kitchen and bathroom counter tops, pick up the kid’s toys and store collectibles. During the holiday season there are a few more cardinal rules to following if you’re selling your home.

If your realtor is taking pictures of your property for their Web site or virtual tour, make sure it gets done before the holiday decorations go up. You don’t want buyers looking at your home in February being distracted by the Christmas tree in the family room, or holiday lights around the front door.

Don’t over decorate. This is easier said than done, since one person’s idea of a jolly Christmas may be another’s Christmas nightmare. If your holiday lights and decorations attract sightseers from far and wide, this may be the year you should get out of show business. The more distractions you have, the more sidetracked potential buyers will be when they come to see your home. How will they ever pay attention to your $30,000 pool if it’s dripping with icicle lights, or if your new tile roof is overrun with reindeer?

Keep your decorating simple, classic and uncluttered. A nice Christmas tree, a wreath on the front door, maybe some candles and a minimum number of exterior lights will give a warm feeling without overpowering the home’s other assets. A showy display of gifts can also be distracting. Keep them stowed away especially after the big day. Since you also want to appeal to buyers of all religions or those who have no religious leanings, keep decorations religious neutral to the degree that you’re comfortable with.

You will also be making a mistake if you think it doesn’t matter what you do since there are never any buyers this time of year. There may be fewer buyers around in December, but the ones who are out there are serious. Why else would they be looking at properties during the holidays? People who need to purchase before the end of the year for tax purposes or relocation are motivated. There aren’t too many tire kickers in December.

If you’re like me, on New Year’s Day you’re ready to burn the Christmas tree.

Plan on de-decorating as soon as possible. For some reason, bright shinny angels and red ribbon look totally out of place on Jan. 2.

Have you noticed that the only people who ask you if you’re ready for the holidays are the ones who are? Don’t let them stress you out. Having your home on the market is stressful enough without the added stress of the holiday season. Give yourself a break if you’re selling your home. Keep it simple and you’ll get through both the holidays and the selling process. Just don’t forget to ditch the dancing Santas.

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