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Monday, November 14, 2011

Staging for the Holidays - How Much is Too Merry?

The holidays are just around the corner. If you have your house listed for sale or are going to put it on the market, here are some things to think about to ensure your house is "buyer friendly" during the holidays.
First, not everyone celebrates the holidays you do so minimizing what is put out for celebrating is key. Make every buyer feel welcome - even the ones that don't do much for the holidays or believe in celebrating the ones you do. There is nothing "wrong" with what you believe or celebrate and it's important to think like a buyer and create that welcome feeling for anyone viewing your house.  Not putting out everything you own for decorating for a holiday will keep your house feeling spacious, neutral and inviting for any buyer.

The next major holiday is Thanksgiving. The warm tones associated with this holiday are fine for selling unless they totally clash with your current color scheme. Having a nice cornucopia on the table, or an arrangement with fall gourds, pumpkins and the like is fine. Just make sure the decor you put out does not draw too much attention to it - whatever you use to decorate for the holiday needs to be just a highlight in the room - not the focal point. Don't overdo it in your front yard with a bunch of cute yard items like scarecrows, pumpkins, turkeys, flags, etc.  Think "less is more" for selling during this time.

The religious holidays that are coming are a source of remembrance, joy, and ritual for many. Not all buyers are going to know what your religious items signify and we don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable in the house they are potentially buying. If someone feels uncomfortable they will just get out and go look at the next house on their list.

I am going to address Christmas because that is what we celebrate in my house and if you celebrate another religious holiday in the November-December timeframe, apply the same guidelines to your house. Christmas decor is a lot of fun - I have lots of Nativity Scenes and Santas. I have a collection of over 40 Nutcrackers that are a family favorite and on display wherever I can fit them. They would surely be a conversation topic for any buyer coming to see the house if it were for sale. 

Are you selling your decorations or are you selling your house?  Also if you have some heirloom or precious things on display and they get broken or stolen, wouldn't you be upset?  So this is the year to not put all those things out. Keep it to a minimum.

Even our tree has a special spot and it blocks the view to the back yard. So if we were selling, I would not put my Nutcrackers on display, I would relocate the tree to a better spot (or maybe not have one), and I would limit the number of decorative things to a few. Poinsettias are fine. A wreath on the door or on a wall is OK. But the abundance of decor some of us put out for our normal Christmas tradition would have to be left in the boxes for where we move next.

It might seem hard, but you are selling a house, not a home. If it is really a non-concession for you and you insist on having all your stuff out - then have no showings for the week before and after Christmas until you can get your personal holiday decor put away.

Know this: People DO buy houses at Christmas. There are people relocating from around the country and this can be a time when serious buyers are looking for a house, and must make an offer.

If you HAVE to sell now - then make some adjustments so that you house can remain on the market and be viewed as a product that any buyer would want to purchase.

Enjoy your scaled-back holiday and know that next year when you are in your new home you can go all out!!