Christmas is a traditionally slower time for the housing market, but there are still ways to attract buyers.
Please don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t sell your house at Christmas. They’re wrong. It may be more difficult to sell during the traditional housing market ‘slow’ months of December and early January, with fewer active buyers due to a widespread family and party focus, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There’s even a wonderful opportunity for sellers as buyers at Christmas are likely to be serious ones, so you could well secure a great sale while everyone else is out stocking-filler shopping or regretting the office party.
So how do you make sure your doors are fully open to the Christmas-time buyer without being completely bah-humbug and ignoring the festive season altogether?
Balance and subtlety, that’s how. But first of all you must agree to follow my single cast iron rule - no Christmas decorations in property. Ever.
During December itself, the decorations will only serve to distract buyers from the room you’re trying to show them, and that’s not great. Christmas trees and decorations ‘date’ your photos, so if you are still on the market in the New Year, people will know immediately how long your house has been for sale. Particularly bad is leaving those decorated photos on your listing into spring – it sends a very negative message that no-one wants your house.
So if you are just about to put your house on the market or you’re planning to during the next month, I recommend you leave the decorations in their boxes until after your house has been photographed.
When the time does come for putting the tree up and decking the halls, here is your opportunity to make a conscious decision. Do you want to prioritise your house sale or Christmas this year?
If it’s your house sale, then decorating with a subtle hand is the best option. Tasteful and stylish decorations can enhance the warm, homely feel of your living areas, as long as they don’t take over the whole show.
But if you do want to shower your house with a Christmas cannon and give the festive season all you’ve got, then you should make this decision with the knowledge that buyers may be overwhelmed by your decorations and may not be able to fully appreciate the space they’re trying to view. It’s completely fine to do this, just be aware that you could be putting your house sale on the back burner until January.
Anna’s top five tips for selling at Christmas
1. Minimalism rules for tasteful, non-distracting decorations. Less is more – keep to one colour of tinsel and baubles that complements your existing colour scheme for a stylish look, and don’t go overboard with the amount of decorating you do.
2. Keep your Christmas decorating in line with the style of your property – cottages suit traditional and classic styles whereas new apartments can take more contemporary decorating. Keeping in style means your decorations become part of the house rather than competing with or over-shadowing it.
3. If you’re not so keen on a minimal or stylish look, try keeping your Christmas decorating to one room only, typically the living room. This will minimise the effect while still allowing you to indulge your own taste.
4. Make sure your Christmas tree isn’t too big for the room – in the same way as wedging a king-size bed into a small double bedroom will make that room appear very cramped, an over-sized tree will also make your room seem smaller than it is. Size matters with rooms, so scale back your tree size to complement and enhance your room, and make sure viewers don’t have to squeeze past the tree to get to the window or the next room.
5. Be conscious that all the extra things we tend to have in our houses over December can make the house look very cluttered. Extra furniture for guests, bags of presents and giant food stocks take up valuable space you need to be showing off so try to keep these items out of sight for viewings.
6. If you really don’t think you can follow these tips, then it might be a good idea to come off the market until the New Year. No viewings may actually be better than bad viewings, and you can start your marketing again once Christmas is over with a renewed sense of purpose and focus.
Anna Hart is an expert in staging homes for sale, working with house sellers to maximise their chances of selling as quickly and as profitably as possible.
Read more helpful tips in Anna’s e-book “How To Sell Your House For Top Price, Fast”.