Selling Your Home During the Holidays? Don't Get Spooked!

Traditionally, the real estate market begins to slow down around Halloween, continuing through the holiday season and most of January.  Still, sometimes events occur that create a compelling reason to sell your home during the holidays: a job change or relocation, the arrival of a new baby or maybe a long-awaited retirement at year-end.   If you find yourself in a situation that precipitates a home sale, take heart, there are actually advantages to marketing your home during the holidays.  

For starters, buyers tend to be more serious at this time of year and often have a genuine need to buy for some of the same reasons you're motivated to sell; relocation from out of the area, a growing or shrinking family, etc.  There's less competition for showings since there are fewer homes on the market.  Plus, you can make your home uniquely festive, warm and welcoming during this time of year.  Here are just a few tips on how to maximize your home's appearance and enhanced holiday charm.

Be sure your home is dressed for success!  Everyone knows how important first impressions are, so boost the curb appeal.  A sad, neglected lawn or weathered, tired exterior can be a definite turn-off to potential buyers.  Start by making sure you've done the Fall clean-up; prune bushes, remove late fall leaves and keep the walkways and outdoor spaces clean and tidy.  A good power wash on decks and porches and sparkling clean windows can make a real difference when folks arrive for the first time. 

But don't stop there.  Spruce up porches with seasonal plants and leave furnishings in exterior sitting areas to highlight the indoor/outdoor living possibilities that Marin buyers want.   Celebrate the season's color by hanging a wreath on the front door or putting up a few exterior lights to brighten the entrance. The LED ropes now available make it easy and quick.  Just be careful not to overdo it...keep it tasteful and in step with the rest of the neighborhood.

Keep your home warm when the weather starts to cool significantly.  When potential buyers tour your home, insure a warm reception as visitors come in from the cold.  Turning on the central heat a half hour or so before showings will create a cozy feel throughout the house.  A fireplace can enhance the appeal of any room during winter months, so light a crackling fire to create a welcoming atmosphere.  You can place an arrangement of flickering candles on the hearth if it's impractical to keep a fire burning or if you have a "Spare the Air Day".  If there's no fireplace, have a special flower arrangement or colorful bowl of fruits and nuts out...persimmons, pomegranates, pears, unshelled walnuts, pecans and acorns are fun to use in a center piece during the holidays.  Use some antique or unusual hand-made toys as accent pieces.

Utilize select seasonal decorations for your home, whatever tradition you celebrate.  Showcase all the entertaining possibilities of your home since this is the time of year for holiday open houses and festive family gatherings.  Just remember, you want to accentuate the best features of your house, not camouflage them by going overboard with holiday décor that's too bright, too big, or too glitzy. 

If it's after Thanksgiving and you enjoy having a Christmas tree, be sure it's the right size so it doesn't feel shoe-horned into a room that's already fully furnished.  Live trees and garlands create a fresh, sweet fragrance that signals seasonal celebrations.  And, you may want to set a pot of spiced apple cider on the stove during an open house to give it a homey feel. 

You never want to market your home with an over furniture or cluttered feel.  Keep it balanced and you can still add special warmth to each room with a light holiday touch.  Place a fluffy quilt at the end of a child's bed, add a lovely warm throw over an arm chair in a reading nook, or hang a set of seasonal guest towels in the powder room.  It's far more effective to be a bit understated with holiday charm than risk being garish. 

To get just the right look, think about hiring an expert...staging can make all the difference if you want to create a buzz, generate multiple offers and the highest price for your property!

No matter what the season, pin-point pricing ALWAYS matters.  Work closely with an experienced real estate professional that knows your area to help you price your home appropriately.  Accurately pricing your home is one of the most crucial considerations in a successful, timely sale. 

Speaking as one who purchased a home on Christmas Eve several years ago, I can say with certainty that you can indeed take advantage of the upcoming holiday season to attract motivated buyers.  The sense of excitement, anticipation and festivity at this time of year can be felt by everyone who tours your home with a little extra thought and creativity.  Despite the storied "slow-down" in the housing market, with the right professional help, it can be just the right time to sell your home. 

Please contact me at 415.596.0778, or email me at if you'd like a no-obligation consultation about listing your home during the holidays, or any time of year!

P.S.  If you'd like to get the "Big Prep List" describing how to best ready your house for market, just email me.

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