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The holidays are fast approaching. Regardless of what denomination you are- the next couple of months are probably going to be more hectic than most as you prepare to conclude 2011 with friends and family. If your home is on the market, this time of year is also particularly tricky. Fortunately there is great advice for those of you looking to get your home sold during the holiday season (And it doesn’t include taking your house off the market).

Regardless of the time of year, most home stagers will advise a seller to remove as many personal items and decorations as possible, “Less is more.” This includes photos, trophies, and even your son’s gallery of refrigerator artwork. To you this might make your home feel cold and impersonal, but it allows a potential buyer to envision themselves living in your house—thus upping your odds of making the sale. During the holidays it may be tough to keep your holiday cheer in the attic but it is the easiest way to stage your house as spacious, without blocking pathways or seeming cluttered.

In addition, it is important to remember that certain cultures might find overtly religious décor off-putting and the best way to remain non-offensive is to avoid decorating altogether. Or another option is to exchange your manger for a basket of pine cones and opt for general fall and winter decorations as opposed to those with religious themes. If you must get religious, be strategic in your placement by displaying your menorah on the ledge of a bay window or dangling mistletoe in an arched doorway. Avoid covering up or down-playing selling features that will sell your home like the fireplace, stairs, and windows. In most cases, sellers are better off with a smaller Christmas tree although a tall, skinnier tree is a great way to draw attention to high cathedral ceilings.

Another vital pointer to remember during the winter is that most potential buyers start their searches on the internet and real estate magazines, so you want to make sure the best possible photos of your home are available, even if it means hiring a photographer. You can also expect less foot traffic due to inclement weather and vacation plans so it might also be useful to create a video tour of your home to allow house hunters a virtual walk through without braving inclement weather.

Showing your home over the holidays can be tough, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to target serious buyers that have more free time for house hunting- especially while your competition might be taking a break. Additionally, December is deadline for those buyers trying to make an investment before the new fiscal year begins.

Jim Lowenstern is the President of Castles Unlimited in Newton, MA.


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