While you may assume potential buyers are too busy shopping, entertaining and attending functions to be house hunting from mid November til late January but that is just not so. Whether it is a change in family dynamics, a job transfer, health reasons, etc. people do move even in the winter. Out-of-town buyers often have time off work over the holidays to visit and house hunt and check out neighbourhoods they may want to relocate in.. Others may be guests of family in your area and are thinking of moving back to be closer to family and friends. While the traffic for showings and open houses may be slower this time of year, you could very well be attracting more serious buyers. Personally I have sold Guelph listings over the holidays before.
Decorating for the holidays while your home is on the market warrants some consideration and planning. While you want your home to look festive and inviting moderation is key. Tasteful and elegant are the looks to aim for. Some exterior lights are fine but overkill is distracting. Avoid those big inflatables that look like they belong in the Santa Claus parade. Those things will make your front yard look smaller and detract from the architecture of your house and landscaping elements. A tasteful wreath on the door coordinated with an urn filled with greenery, branches and decorative balls at the front door can be welcoming. Make sure the walkway, steps and porch are shoveled and salted if necessary. Provide an obvious place for boots and coats inside the front door. An extra mat, boot tray and empty hangers in the front hall closet are recommended. Always leave the outside lights on for late afternoon and evening showings. It’s so hard to open the lock box in the dark!
Inside the house, appeal to the senses. Less is always more with a few well chosen decorative items rather than cluttering up the surfaces with every decoration you own. You want your home to appear spacious not crowded. Again the emphasis is on festive elegance. Traffic flow is always a concern. You want buyers to be able to move easily from room to room. Choose a Christmas tree that fits the scale of the room. If it is too big it will make your room seem smaller and crowded. Again avoid over decorating the tree. While some presents around the tree are fine make sure people can still move easily around the room and see the floor. Keeping the drapes and blinds open during daylight hours will brighten your house. Always leave the lights on for showings. You can add warmth by having the fireplace on, using flame-less candles and having a cozy textured throw draped over a sofa. Cinnamon and clove can add a pleasant holiday scent to your home but scents should be subtle and organic.
Buyers understand it is a busy time of year and that you have to live in your home while it is being shown. Sparkling, fresh smelling bathrooms and kitchen are a priority. Keeping the kids rooms and play areas tidy is always a challenge. You may consider hiring a cleaning service to help you keep on top of things during this hectic time.
For agent viewing and during open houses in December you may want to co-ordinate with your realtor and offer a little hospitality such as some hot apple cider and shortbread cookies. Even though your family may be busy over the holidays too you want to convey to potential buyers that you are serious about selling. These may be the best prospects you get.
Bonnie Mullen is a full-time licensed realtor serving Guelph, Wellington County and surrounding area since 1992.