Almost all estate agents will tell you that Christmas is not the wisest time to put your house on the market, as many people want to stay secure until after the New Year or even wait until spring. However, if you do find yourself trying to sell during the festive season, then there are some rules you should follow that will help maximise viewers.
Christmas decorations can actually devalue a property. Yes, that might sound ridiculous, but Christmas decorations can overshadow the potential of your house, especially if they are loud and garish.
Several property experts and estate agents have revealed their top five Christmas decoration ‘dos and don’ts’ this year.
Santa and Rudolph decorations
Think of going shopping and how annoying it can be when you enter an untidy store, unable to find the items you are looking for because they are all strewn about looking haphazard and cluttered. This is the look you want to avoid so that potential buyers are able to view your property at its best.
Keep your decorations simple, minimal and tasteful, perhaps sticking to a pared back colour theme. Avoid anything tacky – and most importantly, avoid anything Santa, Rudolph, snowmen or robins.
Christmas tree lights
Flashing lights can be distracting which, again, could detract from the focal points of your property. If you must have animated lights, switch off the flash when viewers come round.
There is nothing wrong with some tasteful outdoor decorations, such as a wreath on the door or some lights guiding you up the path, but it is best to refrain from covering the entire house in flashing lights.
If you have a really pretty garden you could decorate a tree with some plain white lights. Real holly, mistletoe and ivy are lovely, either outdoors or indoors for a classy look.
A blow up Santa climbing down the outside of the house or plastic reindeer in the front garden will certainly devalue the house.
Generally, at any time of year, estate agents will offer some advice on how best to ‘stage’ your home prior to advertising it on the market. No one wants to see a lot of personal clutter or untidiness when they are viewing a property. A blank canvas is ideal so that viewers can imagine themselves, and their own property, in those surroundings.
The same applies at Christmas, perhaps even more so. Viewers want to see the potential in the home, not a cluttered lounge filled with a life-size Santa Claus or every surface covered in Christmas cards, as this is distracting. Would-be buyers want to see how the home will look over the remaining fifty weeks of the year.
Neighbours’ garish decorations
This is a tricky one, as you obviously can’t dictate how anyone else decorates their home for Christmas. However, what your neighbour does with their property will have an impact on yours.
Over-the-top decorations can even affect the traffic and noise in your street, as people go out of their way to drive past to view the display. If your neighbours get a little excited with over-exuberant decorations at Christmas, perhaps this isn’t the best time to try and sell.
So what can you do to help entice buyers at Christmas?
Subtle and warm Christmassy scents in your home, such as cloves in oranges, cinnamon and mixed spice, mulled wine or pine cones, can really help to achieve a Christmas sale – think of the age old trick of freshly baked bread or newly brewed coffee to omit a homely smell.
A simple and stylishly decorated home with a ‘less is more’ approach could make buyers feel the property is worth the asking price, and somewhere they want to put down roots.
Some estate agents are advising that sellers take all the necessary property photos before the festive period begins. The house is then released on a pre-registered database on Christmas Day so that potential buyers can book online for when branches re-open. The seller can then enjoy a colourful Christmas without skimping on the decorations as long as they are taken down before viewings start.
Christmas clutter really does reduce your chance of selling, and the results speak for themselves. On average, when a property is marketed in this way, it receives three times more viewings.
So, you don’t have to be Scrooge at Christmas with no decorations or festive spirit. Either go by the theory that ‘less is more’ or just go the whole hog and wait until after the festivities before selling.