Sellers Should Deck the Halls Carefully at Christmas

By Lori Johnston for the AJC

You better not pout, but if your home is on the market, don’t deck your halls this Christmas.

Starting with the outdoors, sellers should limit decorations so that a home’s curb appeal can attract potential buyers during the holidays. It’s a time of the year where there may be fewer buyers, but those who are searching often are serious about purchasing by the end of the year.

Blayne Beacham, director of creative services at luxury real estate firm Beacham & Co., emphasizes that shoppers need to be able to see past any decorations to view the home’s actual features. Agents try to find ways to provide feedback on clients’ decorations without sounding like the Grinch.

“We can’t ask people not to decorate for Christmas because it’s such a big holiday,” she says. “You have your family, and the house is such an important part of the family that, of course, you have to have your decorations. We ask for those decorations to be tasteful. If you are one of those people who go all out for Christmas, maybe we ask you to tame it back a little bit.”

It can be a challenge, especially if you have children who want the explosion of colorful lights, inflatable Santas, winter scene snowglobes, plastic snowmen and reindeer displays.

Inside, the de-cluttering strategy that can help sell homes extends to November and December. Placing fresh or fake greenery on top of the cabinets can be a negative, because they tend to collect dust, said Erika Ward, owner of Atlanta-based Erika Ward Interiors.

The major places to decorate are your front door, fireplace mantel and the kitchen/dining room, Ward said.

“I would not necessarily decorate for holidays in the bedrooms or bathrooms, because that would be overkill. If you’re trying to appeal to buyers, you want to keep it as simple as possible,” she said.

Here’s a checklist of areas where some holiday spirit can be nice and too much of it can be naughty.

Christmas tree and lights

If it’s your tradition to put up more than one tree, trim it to one this year. If the tree is not professionally decorated, Beacham recommends making it all-white, in terms of lights and ornaments. Sometimes agents create an open house or agent caravan at homes that have beautifully decorated trees, to capture attention during the holidays. For outdoor lights, go with white. “White lights on the trees outside is always really pretty,” Beacham says.


A wreath can warm up your entryway, without assaulting potential buyers with too much greenery or blinking multi-colored lights. You don’t want anything “super fussy” at your front door, Ward said. “If you do a wreath and a nice doormat, I don’t think you need much else,” she said.

Table centerpiece

Generally when a home is set up to sell, there are not many personal items out, which even includes placements, Ward said. But a centerpiece can be a festive element. Ward recommends incorporating natural elements that aren’t specific to a person’s taste or the holiday they celebrate. For example, use branches and pine cones, and even have them spray painted with gold or silver for an elegant touch.

Fireplace and mantel

Ward suggests using lanterns or large pillar candles in one color to decorate on, or in front of, the fireplace and mantel. Stacking wood neatly in a clean fireplace can create a cozy look, Ward said. Hang stockings on Christmas Eve, instead of having them overshadow the mantel throughout December.

SIDEBAR: Extra tip

If you plan to list your home in December, take photos of the residence now, before any outside or interior decorating. You want the photos the accompany the listing to show your home without any holiday touches, Beacham said. If you take them in December, they will be dated once the new year begins.

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posted: Dec 5, 2011 | No Responses

Posted by:  Wakamo & Associates

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“When I started my real estate career, I wanted to work in my local community and get to know my neighbors. Now, I realize how important that local expertise is to our clients. At Red Robin REALTORS®, all of our agents are specialists in working with buyers and sellers in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods.”

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