Vacation time and slower work schedules create an ideal time for open houses. However, as homes fill up with presents, decorations and visitors, sellers are often faced with the challenge of striking the right balance between cozy and crammed. Keeping your home tidy and sparingly decorated doesn't mean sellers can't celebrate the season in style, but remember that buyers are looking for just the right amount of sparkle.
"Potential buyers expect that there may be some decorations, but when they arrive they are trying to envision how they would spend their day-to-day lives in the home," says Phil Soper, president and chief executive, Royal LePage Real Estate Services. "Keeping the holiday decorations to the right level will be easier if you remember the goal is to bring out the home's structural charm," Soper adds.
We know that potential buyers can be put off by a home that has too many personal items. So while trying to manage the Christmas clutter, sellers should also remove items that remind buyers that the home belongs to someone else. To assist sellers, Royal LePage compiled a top ten list of things to avoid when selling a home during the holiday season.
- Too many lights: A home will dazzle more if lights are kept to a tasteful minimum. Sellers should opt for white lights instead of multi-coloured flashing bulbs to provide a more neutral glow to a home.
- Forgetting to clear the snow: Snow can look beautiful on trees, but driveways and walkways should be cleared as soon as the flakes fall. Buyers should be able to move freely during an open house so it's important to remember all the outdoor paths and patios around your home.
- No life or landscape: Give buyers a chance to imagine the potential in your landscape. Frost-resistant plants like flowering kale or miniature trees allow sellers to liven up walkways without taking away the buyer's ability to envision his or her dream outdoor spaces.
- Not cozy: Everyone appreciates a warm, cozy home - especially in the winter. Set the thermostat at a warm temperature for the whole day, and be mindful that some thermostats have low temperature pre-sets during the day when no one is at home. When the home is attended, fireplaces and candles could also be lit to create a comfortable environment throughout the day.
- Engage the senses: Simmering a pot of cider with cinnamon during open houses or showings will create a warm and festive feeling.
- Lingering odours: Be aware of those holiday dishes that may leave a strong odour. If possible, wait until showings are completed before cooking those traditional favorites -- potential buyers will appreciate a neutral environment.
- Hiding a home's seasonal bests: Photos of the home's back and front yards, gardens and patios in spring and summer will show potential buyers what the house looks like when it is not buried under snow and when the leaves are still on trees.
- Don't let the tree take over: A smaller Christmas tree, with minimal decorations, will create the appearance of more space. A huge tree, on the other hand, will make the room look smaller, and busy decorations can intensify clutter.
- Presents should not be present: It is important to cut back on clutter when showing a home; hide the wrapped presents to keep them out of eyesight.
- Too many decorations: Remember, when selling a home during the holidays, less is always more. Whimsical ornaments can be great accents during the holidays, but be mindful not to go overboard. When it doubt, remove it!