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Selling Your Home During the Holidays?

December 17, 2020

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A Colonial House with a lot of Christmas Lights

Selling your home during the holidays? How to optimize that effort might be the most important decision you'll make. It’s true that the season’s home sellers might see fewer house hunters, but those buyers are motivated. And the current surge in real estate sales makes this year the perfect time to go for it. All you need is a crash course on how to decorate your home for the holidays without turning off buyers.

Unless you're a total Scrooge, it's hard to argue that glittering lights and holiday accents make a home look inviting. But you also probably know that if you're trying to sell your home, buyers need to imagine themselves—and their own holiday traditions—in your home.

This doesn’t mean you have to ditch your family’s favorite holiday decorations altogether. But you shouldn't hang all the boughs of holly, Christmas lights, ornaments, and every holiday card you receive, either.

READ: Thinking of Buying a Home During the Holidays?

decorated christmas tree in home

Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to selling your home during the holidays:

  1. Depersonalize decorations
    You want to make your holiday home decor appeal to as many different buyers and tastes as possible. That means leaving your personal life out of the equation throughout. Think about how to enhance the features of your home with seasonal decorations instead of adding all the bells and whistles. That alone will keep the mind of potential buyers open to their own vision of holiday celebrations next year. And it’s not hard to accomplish. All you need to do is avoid those personal decorations that appeal mostly to members of your own tribe. That means leaving out the following items:
    • Tree ornaments your kids made
    • Named Christmas stockings
    • Religious tokens and symbols
    • Holiday cards
    • Photos of your baby’s first holiday
  1. Consider your neighborhood
    While some real estate pros suggest you forgo all decorations while selling your home during the holidays, regardless of what your neighbors are doing, others say it’s fine to decorate in an impersonal way. As a leading Montecito realtor, I say if your neighborhood gets in the spirit every year, you definitely want to avoid looking like a Grinch.

    Even so, you must walk a thin line. Buyers will most likely expect festive Christmas decorations, but yours should be more generic.
  2. How to add flair when selling your home during the holidays
    Think less is more and follow this professional advice:
    • Avoid the kitsch
      Inflatable snowmen, reindeer on the roof, a “Santa Stops Here” sign, or even angels flapping their wings at your front door may turn off potential buyers. Yes, even angels can be a turn off to some.

    • Classic is always best
      Holiday decorating can give sellers the opportunity to highlight their home’s most attractive architectural features. For example, you might wrap a tasteful garland around a beautiful curved staircase. You can showcase your fireplace with accents such as knitted stockings or a strand of lights. Hang an elegant wreath on the front door. Put a lovely impersonal decorated tree in your great room to show off the high ceiling. Just make sure your tree is not so big it distracts buyers and blocks the flow of your space.

      On the other hand, if it’s too tiny, your tree can actually make the space look smaller than it actually is. Whatever you decide, don’t allow your holiday decorations to distract and make a space seem crowded. The key is leaving room for potential buyers to see their holiday decor in place of yours. Remember, less is more.
    • Don’t overdo lights
      Simple white lights can add curb appeal. Think of them as a festive touch without being overwhelming when buyers walk-through your home. Choose simple white static lights—they cast a beautiful glow while creating a neutral holiday feeling. By all means, keep movements and sounds to a minimum both outside and in. Moving parts, loud noises and even festive music can distract potential buyers. The same goes for flashing lights.

    • Box up the greeting cards
      Holiday cards on tables make the room look messy. Enjoy them when potential buyers aren't there and stick them away in a drawer during home tours.

    • Choose the right scents
      The smell of simmering cider or baked cookies delights the senses more than garlands strung over everything. Peppermint-scented soaps and candles can perk up any bathroom combined with a few tasteful, holiday-themed towels. They give the bathroom some spirit and interest.

    • Light a fire
      Nothing cozies up a home like a roaring fireplace. Lighting a fire during a showing is a cozy way to celebrate the winter and warm visitors as well. No fireplace, or maybe a gas or electric one? No problem. There are fireplace-scented candles for that.

    • Consider the Colors of Your Rooms
      Maintaining a color-coordinated design scheme matters, even when all you want to do is deck the halls in red and green. Remember, every room of your home should be as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. So, if your favorite holiday decorations clash with the colors in your rooms, think twice about displaying them.

In the end, there is an advantage to selling your home during the holidays. The key is to strike the right balance. Once you do that, your Montecito residence will exude positive energy and charm that can’t be felt at any other time of the year. Done well, your seasonally decorated home will offer the kind of warmth that appeals to potential buyers and helps them to imagine living there. So, go ahead and celebrate what is likely your last holiday season in that home.

Thinking about being in a new home by the 2021 holiday season? I can make that happen. Give me a call at (805) 886-9378, or email me at Happy Holidays!

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“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

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- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch