By Sheila O’Hearn, Zoocasa
Selling a house over the holidays is challenging: kids returning home from college or university; hosting parties for friends and relatives; and Christmas shopping that never seems to end. Despite all the fanfare, the hope of that house sale is all-consuming. So, how can you stay focused on your goal, while enjoying the season?
The first rule of thumb is simple: home-staging first and foremost; holiday decorating second and minimally applied. The difference between the two is also simple: decorating is about tailoring a home for yourself and the family; home staging is all about making your home marketable. You can use holiday décor, of course, but do it sparingly, keeping in mind your prospective buyer.
Clean and Declutter
Before you decorate for the holidays, stage your house first. Instead of hauling out all the wreaths and unearthing all the holiday-themed Hummel figurines, choose one or two that complement your room’s colour scheme, or use them sparingly to add punches of vibrant colour where needed.
Create a Warm and Inviting Atmosphere
One expert notes that a few special touches, such as a bowl of pinecones, a tasteful evergreen wreath as a focal point, or a pot of cider bubbling on the stove can create a festive and welcoming note in your home. When it comes to other seasonally inspired scents, be careful. The cider is enough; don’t mix with cookie-scented candles or other fragrances that claim to smell like apple pie, but often miss the mark and, instead, induce an allergy and an unprecedented leap to the closest tissue box.
Harmonize your Décor
Too much tinsel might look tacky and strike the wrong pose. Aim instead for a holiday collection that matches your décor. If you’ve got an earthy color scheme, for example, accent with matching tones, such as cranberries, forest greens and gold. If you’ve chosen neutral colours, a touch of white and silver and even glass ornamentation are winning combinations.
Dim the Lights
Even if it’s just for this year, turn down the eye-blinding lighting and leave your blow-up Santa in the attic and other life-size lawn decorations. Best practices encourage simple string lighting to accentuate your home’s best architectural features or to draw attention to your finest tree or shrubbery. Spot lights used strategically to light up a verandah or porch can be bright, merry and enticing.
Big tree or little tree?
It doesn’t matter, but do ensure that the tree girth doesn’t take over the floor and general space. An open yet inviting setting is what will lure your potential buyers to want to step over the threshold for more! If your room is on the small side, erect a lean, but well-shaped tree. Trim your tree to a tasteful theme, such as icicle lights and silver tinsel, for instance, or blue and gold glass balls. Leave your tarnished but cherished child’s-first-Christmas bulbs in their wrappings— just for this one year!
Remember: After a successful sale of your old one, you can attend to the traditions you love with total abandon in your new home! What you put into home-staging will be well worth the effort, and the little decorating sacrifices you do will help achieve the end-goal.
The Best Time to Sell?
Sometimes a December sales sign can’t be helped, but, to be blunt, it’s not the best time to try to unload your house. The same can said about January or any of the cold months. On the plus side, the competition is less fierce but, sellers, beware of what buyers are counting on when they come knocking on your door to get a glimpse inside.
For buyers, the best month to make an offer on a house is January. Less competition that might appeal to sellers also means fewer, if any, bidding wars that could, otherwise, drive up the cost of a house. Sellers might have revved up their credit-card bills over Christmas and, if feeling the financial pinch, might decide to try to sell their house in winter and, consequently, settle for less money than if they had waited for the spring.
Statistics show that sellers are more motivated in the spring when buyers multiply; therefore, the best time to sell a house is in the spring. One source notes that with tax refund cheques in the bank, spring buyers are often more willing to pay full price.
Zoocasa is a real estate brokerage based in Toronto.
Sheila O’Hearn is a freelance and creative writer, and has worn many hats throughout her career, from general staff reporter to magazine editor. She has a keen interest in business entrepreneurship and currently writes for several outlets. Visit her at LinkedIn for more info.
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Writer: Sheila O’Hearn
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