staging holidays
Holidays, Selling a Home

The Dos and Don’ts of Staging Your Home During the Holidays

The most common question from sellers during this time, “Should we decorate for the holidays when selling?” Here are the dos and don’ts if you’re listing your home this holiday season.

While the peak time to list a home is during the spring season, the current seller’s market has extended that window, seemingly to be all year long in 2020. Many homeowners are preparing their homes to sell – even during the upcoming holiday season. It’s important to note that despite the intense seller’s market, November through January are the slowest months to sell a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. While preparing a home to sell at any point during the year can provide challenges, there are additional things to consider when listing a home during the holiday season. And one of the most common questions Realtors receive from homeowners that are preparing to list their home during the holiday season is: “Should we decorate or not?” These tried-and-true tips from real estate agents across the U.S. will help homeowners as they prepare to list their homes in the coming weeks.

Do Make Your Home Feel Cozy

During winter, and especially during the COVID-19 season, people stay home more. And as they tour homes, they want it to feel cozy and welcoming during those cold, dreary winter months. Add things to warm up your home like candles (unlit), blankets, or classic fall and winter patterns. Foliage like pinecones, garland, and plants that are evergreen even in cold months is a great way to add the “homey” feel in a house that’s for sale.

staging holidays

If you have a fireplace in your home, pay it up! A basket of firewood next to it, a few baskets filled with blankets nearby, and even some decor on the mantle if you have is a great way to draw attention to the warmth of your home in the cold months.

Read: Fall and Winter Decor Trends We Love in 2020

Don’t Decorate For List Photos

While the average days on the market continues to shrink thanks to the seller’s market, a home typically sits on the market for 3 weeks—and longer in some areas. It’s important that listing photos provide a timeless look of the home—not a brief snapshot of one holiday. Madeline Smallwood with Collier & Associates in Bentonville, Arkansas suggests, “If you are listing at the end of a holiday– say Halloween– don’t have photos taken with your home decked out in Halloween decor and then listed when Halloween has passed.” If your home sits on the market beyond the typical three weeks and long after the holidays and the listing photos contain holiday decor, it’s one more reminder to buyers that your home hasn’t sold and could be a stale listing.

Tips for listing photos from Smallwood:Keep decor centered around the season and not the holiday. This looks more tasteful in photos and for showings.”

staging holidays

Do Depersonalize Your Home and Decor

A rule Realtors convey not only during the holiday season, but year-round is to depersonalize a home before listing. Buyers want to walk into a house and feel like it could be their home and not feel like they’re intruding on someone else’s home. Decor, paint, and personalization should be minimal and appeal to the masses. Smallwood suggests “putting away all the personal holiday cards, stockings with your names on them, etc.” It’s important to remember that homeowners are planning to move anyway, so packing up non-essential and personalized items before listing can not only help with decluttering but provides a head start on the packing process!

Don’t Overwhelm Buyers

While homeowners may love to have candles lit, a fire burning in the fireplace, or a real fir tree, some of those scents can overwhelm buyers — especially if they have allergies. Although we recommend drawing attention to those elements of your home that may set it apart, like a fireplace, it’s important to not have it lit – the smell of smoke can definitely be an overwhelming factor. If homeowners do want to create a cozy atmosphere with candles, try incorporating battery or solar odorless and smokeless candles, or have candles around but not have them lit.

staging holidays

Do Decorate Seasonally Not Specifically

Specific holiday decor doesn’t really enhance a home’s desirability, but styling for the winter season can dramatically improve a home’s appearance. Making small changes in textiles, decor, and even paint can dramatically improve a home’s desirability. Smallwood concurs by stating “Skip the overly trendy decor that’s hip this year and stick to classic decorations and seasonal themes.” For example, she reminds her clients to, “skip the spooky Halloween specific decor and do a fall theme instead.”

Read: Why You Should be Doing Seasonal Home Staging

Don’t Go Overboard With Decor

Madeline Smallwood says less is more. While homeowners may typically love to go overboard with decor, it’s best to scale it back if your home is on the market during the holidays. Paliwoda says that “Over decorating is the biggest mistake” homeowners make while trying to sell their home in the holiday season. Madeline Smallwood offers sellers the practical tip to “keep it simple. Decluttering is always one of the best things you can do before listing your home. This goes for holiday decorations.”

Read: Staging Your Home Beautifully on a Budget


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Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She's passionate about the power of real estate. She's also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

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