Selling Your Home during the Holidays

It’s that time of year again—time to bring out the boxes of decorations, hang wreathes and ribbons, bake treats, shop for gifts and enjoy the company of friends and family.  These are the reasons that many sellers decide not to market their home at this time of year.  On the flip side, with many people waiting to list or temporarily taking their homes off the market, this can be good time to sell, if you are prepared.  Make your lists and check them twice!  

Organizing parties, home showings, shopping trips, and family visits requires some mental gymnastics.  Now, you can choose from many free and paid software applications that can run on handheld devices and computers.  Some of these such as Remember the Milk (www.rememberthemilk.com/) are available for Mac or PC and can integrate with Outlook, Google Calendar and other programs.  You can organize a year’s worth of gift-giving and special date reminders with Amazon’s Gift Central (www.amazon.com/gp/gift-central/organizer).

The next item on the list is outdoor decorations.  With the sun setting early in the winter, weekday showings may take place when it is dark.  If you like to get into the holiday spirit with bright, colourful figurines on your lawn and miles of lights, consider a more subtle display while selling.  Small white or green lights on the branches or boughs of trees look festive and also highlight your landscaping.  The same lights can look nice framing the edge of a roof, veranda or entryway and will highlight the architecture of your home.  Be sure that your walkways are kept clear of ice and snow and are well lit for safety reasons.  

Despite winter temperatures, it is still possible to improve your home’s curb appeal through landscaping.  Trim bushes and trees, rake up fallen leaves and remove any dead annuals.  Add some greenery to the entryway with real or artificial potted evergreens, poinsettias, or geraniums and/or a wreath on the front door.  

During this chilly weather, the focus is on the indoor living space.  Potential buyers will appreciate seeing a home that is filled with warmth and light.  During daytime showings, open the curtains and blinds to let in maximum light and, after dark, ensure adequate lighting using a combination of overhead and floor and table lamps.  Manufacturers now offer compact fluorescent lights that cast warm light while still reducing energy bills.

With gifts and decorations such a major part of the holiday season, a home can quickly become cluttered.  Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in the space; too many personal items can interfere with that perception.  As well, not everyone celebrates Christmas but for those who do, seeing a home without any decorations can seem a little bleak.  During showings, aim for a happy medium that is festive yet subtle.  

Red and green are complementary colours that are traditionally associated with this season but they need not be the only ones.  Today, you will find decorations in a wide range of colours including purple, ice blue and golden earth tones.  Some of these colours may work better in relation to your existing décor than red and green.  For example, silver and blue decorations can look smart in a room with white and black furnishings and rugs.  Gold and glittering earth tones can look wonderful next to wood.  If you like to have an indoor tree, remember that artificial versions are now also available in white, silver and even purple!

As days fill with regular commitments along with holiday organizing and socializing, it can be difficult to prepare your home for showings.  If your budget allows, consider hiring outside help.  These are some of the common tasks required to get a home into tip-top condition: steam cleaning carpets and furniture, washing or dry cleaning rugs and draperies, cleaning blinds and light fixtures, washing windows, polishing hardwood, touching up paint and making repairs such as filling, sanding and painting nicked baseboards.  A home that shows well has a better chance of selling quickly and for the optimum price.  Best of all, these tasks will serve a dual purpose: impressing guests as well as potential buyers.  

The finishing touch is scent.  Now that your home looks great, how does it smell?  Candles, potpourri and air fresheners are typically manufactured with chemicals that can cause headaches and breathing problems—especially for people whose respiratory systems are compromised such as asthma sufferers.  Instead, try adding natural scents by creating table displays that include pine tree boughs, cloves and sticks of cinnamon.  You will also find a wide range of real essential oils for use in diffusers.  If you have a dog, treat him to a bath or a trip to the groomer.  If you are a cat owner, take special care with litter box cleaning.  

Relocating for work or school in the New Year often motivates people to shop for properties during the holidays.  With some preparation, you can tap into this market and still enjoy all the best of the season.