Can Christmas Decor Really Affect Your Home’s Resale Potential?

Surrey BC Canada November 2020: Best Christmas lights decoration house and light display in Metro Vancouver, 7311 194 St, Surrey, BC stock photo
Lei Sun /

If you’re trying to sell your house this holiday season, experts are shedding light on a tip that some homeowners may not know about — plugging in all those Christmas decorations may actually decrease your home’s resale value.

It may seem a bit counterintuitive — after all, who doesn’t love seeing those bright, sparkling Christmas lights all aglow during the cold, dark winter months? And who doesn’t smile seeing dancing reindeer props and twinkling snowmen in the windows? In fact, many people have a time-honored tradition of driving through neighborhoods to gander at the beautiful displays just like they would do with holiday store windows.

Christmas Decorations May Actually Damage Your Home’s Resale Potential

It all centers around the idea of “less is more,” according to Colby Short, CEO and founder of U.K. real estate company Get Agent. Short recently spoke with Home Beautiful magazine about this perhaps little-known holiday real estate truth.

“The reality is that potential buyers want to see how their potential house would look for the remaining 50 weeks of the year,” he said. Though, as Short concluded, “it doesn’t mean you can’t decorate” — it just means you need to do so the right way to “showcase the warmth, character and charm of your property.”

When it comes to what to avoid, experts suggested that Santa, Rudolph and other characters are a no as you want to steer clear of anything too cutesy or “garish.” Such decorations could also turn off prospective buyers that don’t celebrate Christmas. 

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Also a negative are outdoor inflatables or an explosion of exterior decor. Per property expert Carol Peett, “Highly decorated houses with numerous multi-colored lights and Christmas decorations, such as Father Christmas climbing down the chimney and reindeer in the garden, can certainly devalue a house.”

Keep it Simple and Neutral, Despite the Holiday Season

Rather, experts advised keeping it simple and neutral when staging your house. Rather than colorful Christmas bulbs in every shade of the rainbow, stick to clean and classic white lights. Rather than over-the-top outdoor setups, opt to illuminate a well-maintained garden with those same white lights. Tasteful ribbons and glass ornamentation also are suggested to provide sophistication and hint at more expensive taste.

“At any time of year, we advise potential sellers to give thought to how they stage their home prior to putting it on the market. No one wants to see a lot of personal clutter or general untidiness when viewing a property to buy. Less is more and viewers want to see a property for what it is, not for what someone else has made it. In many respects, this is even more the case at Christmas,” advised property expert Chris Chapman.

Keep Your Home Free of Clutter When Selling

This also extends to not disguising any key feature of your home with a lot of decor such as a beautiful staircase or mantel. And, Short said, make sure you’re not blocking any natural light from coming in — like one might with a giant tree placed in front of a window. On the other hand, the scent of a natural tree can be inviting for any open houses you have planned during the season.

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These tips can go a long way within a tough market. According to Zillow, the slowest months for real estate transactions are during the winter for obvious reasons, especially with many distracted by holiday activities. Though there is less competition in the market, buyers are likely to receive “lowball offers” and are less likely to net multiple offers. It’s also more difficult to show off a home’s curb appeal in these often darker days with longer nights.

Plus, just think about all the money you’ll save if you turn off an overabundance of incandescent holiday lights: About $7.40 a day (or $222 for the whole month of December), per Electric Rate.

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