How Not to Decorate if You're Selling This Holiday Season

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Christmas Lighting
Getty ImagesThis home's decorations might thrill people out looking for light displays but could be a turnoff for potential homebuyers.

By Blake Miller

You don't have to pretend the holidays don't exist if your home is on the market this time of year.

Selling a home during the holidays can be tricky. Decorations could turn off potential buyers who might have been interested in buying a particular home -- if they hadn't been distracted by the huge collection of inflatable decor in the front yard.

"Curb appeal is an important element of real estate at any time of the year," says professional home stager Krisztina M. Bell of Virtually Staging Properties Inc. in Atlanta. "During the holiday season, curb appeal often takes on a new meaning as people decorate their homes and landscapes to reflect the joy [of the season]. There is a fine line between attractive outdoor decorating and pushing the limits, especially when staging a home during the holidays."

The good news is that you don't have to completely avoid holiday decor. In fact, says Justin Udy, a real estate agent with Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Utah, "homes can actually show better during the holidays."

Here are five ways to enhance your home's curb appeal during the holidays.

Light it Up

"A well-lit entryway provides a charming invitation for guests or potential homebuyers," says Bell. "Use LED candles or lanterns with globes to light entryway steps and walkways. If there is a wreath or arrangement on the door, place a spotlight on that area to highlight the festive accessory and create a warm, welcoming glow."

If you must decorate with string lights, white lights are best, adds Bell. "White outdoor lights on the outside of a home are recommended, and are inspiring and beautiful," Bell says.

Skip the Kitsch

While you may adore that waving Santa inflatable in your yard or shrubs covered in colored lights, rethink bold statement decorations when your house is on the market. "Avoid the blowup snowman, reindeer and the like strewn about on the front lawn, as you don't want to distract and take away from the features of the home," says Bell. "Less is best."

Keep it Minimal

Similar to when you're getting your home ready to sell when it's not the holiday season, the concept of less is more also holds true this time of year. (So keep the tchotchkes to a minimum.)

"It is key to maintain a very clean and crisp appearance," says Josh Myler, a real estate agent with The Agency in Los Angeles. "Buyers want to feel comfortable but also have the room to envision their own belongings and decorations in what might just be their new home. Clutter is never a good thing, and the holidays have a tendency to bring out more of it."

Create Vignettes

Focus on simple yet eye-pleasing holiday vignettes throughout your home. "Create a vignette in a wheelbarrow, or use a small section of patio," suggests Bell. "Use simple holiday decorations, plants, and other items to create an attractive scene to spruce up outdoor spaces."

Fashion a Welcoming Entry

If you decide to rid your home of all holiday decor except for a few key items, make sure to include a wreath on your door. "One of the great things about wreaths is that they can easily be customized to match the personality of the home," says Bell. "A simple live wreath on the front door is classy. Add a big bow for major impact."

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