How to Decorate for the Holidays When Your Home Is for Sale

  1. Clean and declutter before you decorate. If your house is already full of knickknacks and furniture, piling on the holiday decor and plopping a blinking, tinsel-laden tree in the middle is a sure way to turn a potential buyer into Scrooge. The cardinal rules of home staging apply, no matter when you list your home. So give your house a good, deep clean and pack up those everyday tchotchkes before you haul out the holiday bins.
  2. Less is more. Ornaments stuffed into every nook, twinkle lights dripping from walls and gutters, and that rooftop inflatable Santa may seem bright and festive to you but are likely to turn off, not dazzle, your buyers.
    You want them to be impressed with your house, not distracted by decorations. So keep it simple this year. If minimizing the “ho ho ho” cramps your style, just remind yourself that you can go all-out next year in your new home.
  3. Treat all the senses. Wintery, holiday scents are welcoming, but use them judiciously and avoid the cloying and artificial. Try a nice basket of scented pinecones, simmer cinnamon on the stovetop or simply allow the subtle and fresh smell of a fir wreath to tantalize and mesmerize.
    That being said, no matter how many cookies you bake, nothing will hide the smell of kitty litter or wet dog. So refer to tip No. 1 — deep clean and then use scent to enhance the cozy vibe.
  4. Class, not clash. For the best impression, make sure your holiday decor complements your existing color palette. For example, if your home is done up in warm or earth tones, lean toward golds, forest greens and deep reds. If your palette is cooler, use silvers, blues and whites to make your home sparkle.
    If your usual decorations don’t fit the bill, consider purchasing some new ones just for the listing.
  5. Decorate to accentuate. Show off your home’s selling points by decorating strategically. Does your home have a beautiful archway? Hang a single shiny ornament to draw the eye. Funky-cool beehive fireplace? Go easy on the stockings and give the mantel some breathing room. Curved staircase? String garlands up the railing. Stunning view? Place a menorah or simple evergreen bough across the sill and don’t hide that money maker behind lights and fake snowflakes.
  6. Keep it neutral. Any time of year, religious decorations are a sticky topic, and never more so than during the holidays. And the fact is, you do want to sell your home and not turn off potential buyers. Certainly, display decorations that make the season meaningful to you, like this clever Hanukkah garland showing off the mantel detail, but consider saving the oversize and overt displays to adorn your new home next year.
  7. Trim down the Tannenbaum. Traditionally, the Christmas tree is afforded a place of honor in the home. However, space sells and, most likely, that tree will be occupying prime interior real estate. Don’t worry; you don’t have to do without it. Simply make sure your tree has the right proportions rather than being the elephant in the room.
Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Today Realty Ltd., Brokerage*
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