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Christmas is a homebuyer's market

Don’t over do it this Christmas, if you want to sell your house, that is.

Royal LePage Real Estate Services says it’s time to start thinking about a smaller tree this year if you plan to list your home for sale over the holiday season. Those large, decorated trees can take over a room and make it appear smaller to potential customers.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a slow period for real estate transactions, meaning sellers need any advantage they can muster.
“When people are selling their houses at Christmas time, they are selling under some other stress. They are usually highly motived to sell,” says Dianne Usher, a vice-president with Royal LePage. “You’ve got the euphoria of the holiday season and, oops we have to sell. It’s a great time to buy.”
The real estate company is not being a total Scrooge about the season, it’s just calling for less of everything.
Among its other suggestions are avoiding too many lights and opting for white lights instead of multi-colored flashing bulbs to give your home a neutral glow.
Forget the stacks of presents under the tree too, they just give your home a cluttered look. And those holidays meals may smell great to you, but they are a strange odour to a potential buyer.
“You want to try to tone it down a bit. Take the personal aspect of your home out of it,” says Ms. Usher, adding Christmas marks your home more than usual. “It just adds too much of a distraction to the room.”
But should you have no Christmas decorations? Would that be a turn off to buyers?
“Not in major urban centres because we are so multicultural today,” says Ms. Usher, adding in some rural and suburban centres, a touch of Christmas can be important to selling.
Mary Helen Rosenberg, a partner in Stage To Sell, says the whole idea behind staging is to keep your home as neutral as possible, so it appeals to the widest audience of buyers.
“No, I wouldn’t get rid of the tree all together, but I wouldn’t overdo it with decorations, too,” Ms. Rosenberg says. “You can’t rob the family of traditions. I wouldn’t put the tree up Dec. 1 and take it down Jan. 20. I might close that window and keep it fairly short and allow the family to enjoy its regular traditions. If it’s serious and we need to sell your house, you bring the tree down a little earlier.”
Even the guys who grow the trees say it’s probably not a good idea to have a giant one in the middle of your living room during an open house.
“When it comes to selling a house, it is important to not fill the room with a large and wide tree loaded with decorations. The eyes of the buyer will look at how big a tree is and how small the room is, even if it’s in the basement,” said Lewis Downey, executive director of Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association.
“I think you do need a tree though. It’s Christmas time and it’s natural to have a tree. If you don’t have a tree, it can have reverse effect and people may say, ‘What’s the matter, there’s no tree. They’re not happy to live there.’”
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