Hoping for a home sale this Christmas? Even though it might sound counterintuitive, listing your home during the holidays can be a smart move, since people who have “house” on their gift list are serious buyers.

But even though you’re competing with less inventory, you still want your house to stand out—in the right way, which means no garish light displays reminiscent of Christmas Vacation.

However, you do want to strike that festive chord that will help house hunters picture themselves happily celebrating the holidays in your home at some future date.

Subtle and sophisticated is the name of the game,” says Chief Real Estate Analyst Emile L’Eplattenier of TheClose.com.

Curb Appeal is More Important Than Ever.

The outside of your home always matters, but repeat after us: subtle and sophisticated. That means no inflatables or holiday scenes skating across your lawn or roof; simple lights and a lovely wreath are probably all you need.

And if you have that one neighbor who tends to go a little over the top, consider whether it’s worth asking them to tone it down so you don’t scare off a potential sale.

Go Agnostic.

It’s fine if you think a certain someone is the reason for the season, but not everyone does. It’s best to err on the side of less religious, notes Tod Franklin of DFWCityhomes.

“Your home should appeal to all people in all cultures,” Franklin says.

And that goes for overly personalized items, too.

“Like you would do the rest of the year, remove most of the identity of who lives in the house, like special collections and holidays cards. You want potential buyers to get a glimpse of what life might be with their own stockings on the mantle and cards hanging on the doors,” says Tim DeShazer, head of I Love OC Homes.

So stash the stockings and other items that make the home scream ‘yours,’ not ‘theirs.’ Remember that your house should be a blank canvas for the future owner.

Make it Cozy.

Candles, a fire if it’s not too hot (and you are monitoring it the entire time!) and great pine or cider smells can all up the wintry appeal of your home.

“You want your future buyer to picture themselves cozying up by the fire and drinking hot cocoa in their new home,” says Eric Sztanyo, a Realtor at Keller Williams and founder of We Buy NKY Houses.

Trim the Tree Wisely.

If you cannot resist the urge to put up a tree, make sure it doesn’t crowd the room, suggests Tim DeShazer, head of I Love OC Homes.

“Christmas trees can take up a lot of space, and that will make the room look much smaller. You always want the buyer to see a much larger room with lots of space to work with when it comes to their furniture.”

An elegant and timeless look suggested by L’Eplattenier is decorating a tree with clear rope lighting.

“It’s seasonal, but non-denominational, so it will appeal to everyone who likes bright, shiny things,” L’Eplattenier said.

Oh, and don’t forget to keep the tree watered and clean up needles constantly so that they don’t detract from your flooring or get tracked around the house. 

Remember, Less is Always More.

Even though you can play to your holiday strengths, remember that your buyer is more interested in your home than your displays.

“Don’t create distractions that overshadow the unique features of your home, nor make it feel busy and cluttered,” Franklin says.

Finally, if you’re suffering from décor overload, moving is a great time to ditch the stuff that’s looking a little worse for the wear. However, even though this might not be the year to go all out, remember that those special items you love can be safely packed away in your storage space to enjoy in your own new digs next year.


Cathie Ericson