If you’ve decided to keep your home on the market this holiday season (and you totally should), you probably have a few questions. Like, how much should you decorate the house? Or, is it OK to leave presents under the tree?
We checked with several real estate agents to answer your most pressing questions, and help you throw the ultimate holiday-themed open house that’ll have buyers adding your home to their list for Santa.
1. Make it cozy and bright
Photo by Robin LaMonte/Rooms Revamped
The first step to getting buyers in the door (and persuading them to stay awhile) is to transform your house into a warm haven of holiday cheer. Chances are, guests coming in from the cold will be feeling just as stressed as you about trying to balance the holidays with a big move. But you can soften them up with a few simple tricks—like blasting the heat.
“Keep your house very warm,” suggest Lane Shuler, real estate broker for LeConte Realty. “Don’t try to save a buck by keeping your house below 70. Make your house the most welcoming house a buyer sees on their tour.”
You might even want to use a real fire to upgrade the coziness of your home.
“This is a great time to showcase the house, and a festive theme makes the house a ‘home’ that potential buyers can see themselves in,” says real estate agent Nadia Anac. “If you live in colder climates, turn on the fireplace.”
You should also consider using small lights, candles, and even scented decor to make every room feel like one your buyer doesn’t want to leave.
“Make sure the home smells great,” says Michelle Sloan, a Realtor® with RE/MAX TIME of Maineville, OH. “I love the cinnamon-scented pine cones that can be found in hobby stores. They make a great holiday decoration and make the room smell warm and cozy.”
2. Bring out the figgy pudding
All right, it doesn’t have to be figgy pudding, but your holiday-themed open house should definitely have a few snacks to keep buyers sticking around. Baked goods and festive drinks will help your event feel more like a holiday party, and less like a chore.
“Offer some bubbly,” Sloan suggests. “Small glasses of white, bubbly grape juice or some other festive drink that won’t be too messy to clean up if there are spills.”
“Play upbeat holiday music, and bake some cookies to engage all the senses,” Anac suggests. “Offer hot cocoa so potential buyers will linger longer.”
3. Don’t store presents under the tree
Photo by Marks & Spencer
The only strange guy with access to your presents this year should be Santa Claus—so do your part in eliminating temptation for theft during the open house by keeping presents and valuables out of sight.
Ditto for the genuine crystal tree topper or the heirloom china you inherited from your great-grandmother. We know it comes out only once a year, but this year it’s better off staying in the attic. After all, it isn’t just theft you should be worried about; other accidents can easily happen as well, especially with a house full of people.
“Always put away valuables and breakable items that cannot be replaced,” Sloan says.
4. Be sensitive with your decor
The holidays mean different things for everyone. Since you never know who’s going to walk through the door, it’s important to keep your decor festive and fun—not heavy or religious. Translation? Christmas trees are great, but skip the nativity set this year.
“I recommend a pine wreath on the front door, and a few large, red velvet bows tied strategically along the front of the home,” says real estate broker Flavia Berys. “Inside the home, make it nondenominational, using things like snowmen, snowflakes, holly, and candles.”
Be sure that the key focal points in your home look holiday-ready, otherwise your home might seem gloomy.
“If you have a mantel, be sure it’s decorated,” says Benjamin Ross, a Realtor with Mission Real Estate Group. “If the mantel is left plain, it’ll look out of place this time of year—not good for prospective buyers.”
But that doesn’t mean you should go all-out, like the Griswold family.
“Buyers who go to open houses during the holidays are serious about buying,” Anac says. “For a seller who’s going to have an open house during the holidays, it’s important to make the home inviting, but not too distracting with holiday decor—don’t overdo it with lights or lawn decorations.”