Should Home Sellers Decorate for the Holidays?

by Karen Briscoe
December 13, 2013

December is a month that is full of holidays and this is a question that seems to come up year after year with our Seller clients.  Holiday decorations can contribute to a home feeling warm and friendly.  Further special decorating shows different uses for spaces and features of the home.  Lights can accent areas that may be “lost” to darkness and cheer up the front of a home in the bleak mid-winter season.

My recommendation to Seller clients has been to do what the family normally does and wants to do.  If the homeowner normally strings exterior lights, then by all means use it as an opportunity to showcase the property.  If a Christmas tree is a centerpiece to the family or living room, then continue with that tradition.  Stagers frequently urge owners to “depersonalize” their home when it is on the market to sell, and I still concur with that recommendation.  However, some character and personal touches keep a home from feeling too cold and uninviting.

Sometimes putting up holiday decorations is an additional burden to keeping a home in show condition that Sellers opt out for a season.  If the Sellers are also packing and making plans to move, then adding the burden of decorating for a holiday is just enough to send them over the edge.  In those cases, I recommend taking a rest from decorating for this particular holiday.

Our family celebrates the Christmas holiday.  It is our tradition to pick out a live tree the day after Thanksgiving and decorate it over the long weekend.   In 2009 we put an offer on a town house in McLean and put our home officially on the market the day before Thanksgiving.  It was all we could do to get and keep the home in “show” condition, so our family minimized our decorating for that holiday season.  We opted to put a wreath on the front door and some greenery around the mantle.  The home still conveyed a warm and inviting atmosphere, but minimized the already busy period in our lives.

Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy are Realtors ® in the Northern Virginia, Washington DC, suburban Maryland market place and would be delighted to assist whether for home buying or selling.  Please contact via the means most convenient for you:, 703-734-0192,

Karen Briscoe is Principal of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group (HBC) and author of "Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day". She is an Associate Broker in Virginia, a Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, and a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Karen began her real estate career developing residential lots with the Trammel Crow Company in Dallas, and in commercial real estate with The Staubach Company in the Washington, DC Metro area. Karen has a Masters Degree from Southern Methodist University and her BA from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri – her hometown.
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