• Desiree Mastracchio, DMDesign

6 Tips for Decorating/Selling in December

Are you or your clients listing in December? Despite having your house on the market, the family still deserves a festive holiday season. So go ahead and decorate, as long as you follow some ground rules. Here are 6 important tips regarding holiday decorating while selling your home.

1) Take MLS Pictures Before Decorating. As festive as it might look, do not include any holiday decorations in the MLS photos. Nothing screams "Nobody wants to buy this house!" like a January or February listing that still features a Christmas tree or menorah.

Your listing should feature a clean, uncluttered, staged home that will appeal to buyers from all walks of life. So get them in the door with terrific professional photos of a simple, elegant home and allow them to see the warmth of a few holiday decorations after they actually walk in the door.

2) Keep it Simple. While lights and decorations do add warmth and whimsy, they should be subtle. Some simple clear lights out front; a menorah on the mantel; a medium-sized tree with minimal presents underneath it. And since traditional red/green and royal blue/silver truly don't match with most home decor colors, try to stick to simple silver or gold if possible. Next year when you're in your new home, you can put up all the inflatables you want, but for this year, keep it simple!

3) Do Not Block Any Natural Light. While we all love to place the Christmas tree in a front window so the lights can be seen at night, it will block daylight, which is not ideal. Natural light is one of the most appealing things to buyers - so don't diminish it. Likewise, placing wreaths in each front window looks pretty from the street, but makes the inside much darker than it should be. Place your tree in a corner where it won't block sunlight, and limit your wreaths to one on the front door.

4) Be Mindful of Flow. Most houses have too much furniture as it is, let alone adding a large Christmas tree -- making the family room even more crowded. Consult with a professional home stager first, and edit furniture to maximize space and traffic flow. Consider a tree as an additional furniture item, because it takes up at least as much space as one or two club chairs. Don't just add the tree and push furniture to the side.... remove a chair, end table or credenza altogether so the room doesn't feel cramped.

5) Appeal to the Senses. Make your home cozy - keep the thermostat at a warm temperature when it's cold outside. Have a fire going, with lots of pillows and throws on the couch in front of it. Place candles or potpourri in the kitchen and/or family room - but only in subtle scents such as balsam and cedar or spruce. Stay away from overpoweringly sweet smells like berries or apple pie.

6) Don't Display Holiday Cards. If you think family photos are distracting, imagine what cute pictures of all your friends' children will do to buyers. Who wouldn't be sidetracked by adorable toddlers dressed in matching red velvet dresses? Remember that any time a buyer's attention is focused on decor instead of the house itself, you are losing ground.

As lovely as holiday decorations are, keep them to a minimum when listing. Don't let the decor overwhelm buyers from seeing the house itself!

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