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Holiday Decorations Present Challenges For Homes That Are On The Market

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Towne Square Realty

 Holiday decorations done right can help sell a home all year around. But experts say that decorating for the holidays when your home is on the market can be tricky.

“Many people feel their homes are at their warmest and most welcoming when the Thanksgiving table is set and awaiting the turkey, or when the December holiday decorations are set up,” says Kelly Holmquist, leader of the Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty. “We counsel our clients to take photos of their home at its best. We also warn them to decorate with care.”

When people are shopping for a home, they’re trying to hard to envision themselves living in your home, says Ms. Holmquist, who specializes in helping people sell their homes. A beautifully decorated table or a tastefully decorated living room can help them see what a happy place your home could be for their family.

Holmquist tells her people to take photos of their well-decorated homes if they’re thinking about putting the home on the market this spring. Home sellers can then set out photos of holiday celebrations that emphasize the home’s décor. Leave the pictures of the relatives in the drawer, she adds.

A common question at this time of year, says Ms. Holmquist, is how much decorating should be done in a home that is on the market.

“Those are good and sometimes difficult questions because holiday decorating and home sales don’t always go hand in hand,” she explains. “Keep in mind that your home must always be at its best and you must be always ready to welcome people into your home.”

Here are five thoughts Ms. Holmquist offers about decorating a home that’s on the market during the holidays:

1.      Less can be more

“Remember,” Ms. Holmquist emphasizes, “that people are coming to see your home, not your decorations. You want to showcase how roomy your home is.” A few things can give a home that holiday feel without making it appear cluttered. Be careful of too many lights and decorations on the outside. Think about a smaller tree that decorates, but doesn’t dominate, the room inside.

2.      Avoid messy decorations

Real trees can dry out and drop needles, she says. Aside from being a fire hazard, they are a mess to clean up. Menorahs can drip wax. Stick with decorations that won’t make a mess. If you use candles or menorahs, place a sheet of foil under them so they can be picked up and cleaned up easily. Be careful of decorations that leave a trail of glitter. And stack the wrapped gifts in a corner or put them away in a closet.

Never, by the way, leave candles burning unattended.

3.      Keep things somewhat non-denominational

Ms Holmquist calls this a touchy subject, but adds that it’s one worth thinking about. “Consider keeping your decorations somewhat generic,” she says. “It’s a personal decision, but consider these two thoughts. First, like it or not, people bring their preconceptions with them into a home. Decide how much your want to reveal about yourself through your decorations. Second, you want visitors to remember and talk about how beautiful your home was, not the crèche or other intensely religious items.”

4.      Some decorations and activities help sell

Decorating wisely can highlight the features of your home, she says.  Stockings or candles can highlight a beautiful mantle and a bow or wreath can brighten a doorway.  Centerpieces of pine cones or other winter reminders of nature can highlight a table. Some experts suggest using splashes of red instead of green because red is an emotionally appealing color.

5.      Holiday-themed refreshments for visitors

Consider setting out a plate of holiday cookies and festive paper plates and napkins for visitors. Another idea is to simmer spicy apple cider on the stove, which will also fill your home with a delicious scent.


For better or worse, says Ms. Holmquist, holiday decorations become part of a homeowner’s sales strategy. As with everything else regarding the sale of a home, home sellers should work with their Realtor. He or she can explain local custom and practices and give you an objective opinion of your decorating.

Ms. Holmquist is the team leader for the Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty, and one of the top-producing real estate teams in Morris County, N.J.  She has been in real estate since 1997, specializing in residential home sales. After working at other agencies, she founded The Holmquist Team in 2008. A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), she holds a bachelor of science from Penn State University. More information is available at http://www.kellysellshouses.com or by calling (908) 867-7109.