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How To Have Happy Holidays As You Sell Your Home

Rachel Burris April 25, 2024

The holiday season may not be the best time of year to sell a house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to celebrate while your home is on the market. If you’re worried about your ability to manage the sale of your home while enjoying holiday festivities, just keep in mind that you can bring holiday cheer into your home while still making it desirable to potential buyers.

When selling your home, it’s paramount that you enable buyers to envision themselves there. Although this often means decluttering and depersonalizing, tasteful holiday decorations can actually make your house seem cozier to potential buyers. So as you prepare to celebrate, keep these tips in mind.

Set The Stage For The Ideal Holiday Gathering

Convincing potential buyers that your house is the perfect home for them is all about setting the stage. Each showing should be a production that entices buyers to make an offer, and nothing gets people into the consumer spirit like the holidays.

If your potential buyers can imagine themselves hosting holiday gatherings in your home, you’ll be well on your way to getting an offer. Just ask Sonia McSweeney, owner of Moon View Media, who created a bidding war on her property after staging her home for the holidays.

“We put extra work into trimming our beautiful, real tree. We put model boxes under the tree, beautifully wrapped,” says McSweeney. “I think that the thing that really helped people love our home was setting the table as though we were just about to host a small holiday gathering. We put out our best diningware, wine glasses, etc. and a beautiful tablecloth.”

“During one showing, the family sat on our couch and chair and just stretched out and rested there for a while,” she adds. “I guess it seemed welcoming!”

Thanks to the homey feeling McSweeney’s staging created for potential buyers, her home was only on the market for two weeks.

Decorate With A Minimalist’s Eye

If you want your home to have the same effect on home buyers that McSweeney’s had, keep showings in mind when you begin to decorate your home for the holidays.

“Keep your decorations simple and classic, setting up just a tree, a wreath, lights and accent decorations,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta House Buyers. “Make sure that when you set up your tree that you remove furniture to make more room. You don’t want to make your living room feel cramped, which could turn off potential home buyers looking for larger family rooms.”

While you want your decorations to fill your family with the holiday spirit, you need to ensure that you don’t overdo it. The homes that sell quickly and for the highest price tend to be the ones that feel spacious and airy. Homes that are filled to the brim with bulky decorations make buyers question whether there’s enough space in the house to accommodate their families.

So as you consider which decorations to include in your home, think about the elements of your home that you want to draw attention to.

“Use decorations to highlight the great features of your home,” Breyer says. “If you have a great deck, run lighted garland along the railing to outline the deck and the backyard, which will draw people to these features in your home.”

It often helps to research comparable sales in your area to determine which features you have that other homes may lack. By adding simple, decorative touches to those elements of your home, you’ll draw potential buyers’ attention to them.

If you’re unsure about whether your decorations are actually accentuating those important aspects of your home, a good rule of thumb is to dial it back.

“Overwhelming a home with holiday decor can often hide great features of the house, features that would normally sell the home,” says Melissa Samar, REALTORâand owner of Picket Fence Realty. “Instead of decor, use holiday music to set the mood. Light scented candles – candy cane, pine, etc. – for an aroma of the holidays.”

The last thing you want to do is mask those elements of your home that are likely to motivate buyers to make an offer. So instead of taking a chance, scale back your decorations and use the sounds and smells of the holidays to get your family feeling cozy and celebratory.

What To Do About Holiday Feasts

As soon as November rolls around, there are many holiday feasts that you may want to prepare and host in your home. However, with big family meals come big family messes. When your home is on the market, you need to ensure that you can be ready to show your house on short notice.

So what should homeowners do when it comes to hosting holiday meals at their house? “We opted out,” says Rachel Stephens, SEO and Customer Behavior Analyst for Totally Promotional. Stephens is currently in the process of selling her home and looking to move between Christmas and New Year’s. “We usually host Christmas but told the family as soon as we knew when we were moving that we couldn’t host this year.”

Sometimes choosing to relocate the celebrations is the best way to ensure that your home is market-ready during the holiday season. By having another family member take over the hosting duties, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and cleanup.

However, if moving holiday feasts to another location isn’t an option for your family, there are certainly ways that you can make it work. It just may mean that you have to cut back on the labor-intensive dishes and double the cleanup duties.

“With the holidays comes big crowds of families. Be sure to tidy up each room to the best of your ability again – even if you think you already did it – prior to showing your home,” says John Monte, co-owner of Elegant Simplicity, an interior design and organizing firm. “If you brought chairs into the dining room for dinner, be sure to remove them again prior to the next showing.”

Hosting holiday feasts is exhausting, but you must make sure you have energy left over. By deep cleaning your homebefore showing it and getting rid of the extra furniture you brought in to seat your guests, you’ll ensure that your home is once again ready for the spotlight.

How To Juggle Festivities And Showings

You must make yourself available to show your home whenever a potential buyer requests to see it, but you can’t just kick out your guests at the last minute. The only way you can ensure that your holiday festivities don’t interfere with your showings is by spending extra time thinking about your schedule.

“Most buyers shop during the day on weekends or after work during the week. Avoid scheduling holiday gatherings during those times. If selling by owner, you can explain your holiday plans to buyers and offer a suitable alternative time,” says Samar. “Don’t ever turn down a showing altogether! Always suggest a similar alternative day/time.”

Potential buyers will also be celebrating various holidays, so they’ll understand if a specific day or time doesn’t work for you. However, if you don’t make an effort to accommodate their schedules, they may ultimately lose interest in your home and find another listing.

So make sure that you’re always quick to respond and willing to work around buyers’ schedules. But also remember to inform your family and guests that you’ll be showing your home during the holidays. You want to avoid extended houseguests and unexpected visitors while your home is on the market. By keeping an open dialogue with everyone, you’ll ensure that your potential buyers and your guests all feel welcome.

Holiday Cheer Is More About Your Mindset Than Your Surroundings

Although we tend to view festive homes as being central to creating holiday cheer, the holidays are what you make them. This holiday season may not stack up against all those that have come before and will follow, but that’s OK.

As Stephens says, “Embrace it! This holiday is going to be different. It is going to be crazy – but we know that it will only happen once (hopefully!), making this an extra-special Christmas.”

After all, the holidays are not about the decorations or the presents, they’re about being thankful for what you have and demonstrating your love for those around you.

“Each year, we work with clients who want their homes absolutely perfect for friends and family who will be visiting during the holidays. The truth is, what makes your home special are the people in it,” says Monte. “That sounds a bit cliched, but it’s absolutely the reality. Certainly, there are things you can do to embrace the holidays and make your home feel welcoming, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the feeling you’re trying to create starts and ends with you.”

If you have children, it’s crucial that you discuss your plans for this holiday season ahead of time. Explain to your kids that there may be certain family traditions that you’re not able to uphold this year but reassure them that you’ll pick them up again next year in your spectacular, new home.

This year can be a chance to establish new traditions in your family and remind each other what the holidays are all about. “We hope to make the move feel like a gift and enjoy every part of it,” says Stephens.

If you start to feel a little stressed, just remind yourself that with a positive attitude and the right holiday soundtrack, your move can feel like a gift, too.