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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Don't scare off your buyers...

This time of year is one of two major holiday decorating opportunities, along with Christmas. For whatever reason, Halloween has grown into a major decorating holiday, with some people going all out to create large, garish and ghoulish displays on their front yards. Christmas has become the same way. There is a can-you-top-this mentality in some neighborhoods that lead to outlandish displays. In fact there is at least one story every year and Halloween or Christmas of someone going so far overboard that they are cited and fined by the local government. That happened in our area this Halloween when one zealous decorator let his display spill out on the city right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street. He was fined and ordered to remove the offending items from the right-of-way.

Now imagine if you house is for sale and a prospective buyer drive by or drive up with an agent and sees something like our picture above. Is this a place that they really want to stop at and visit? Not likely. It gets even worst if the decorating is carried over to the inside of the house. Imagine trying to walk through and evaluate a house that is full of giant spider webs, severed heads and skeletons that aren’t even in the closet. DON'T DO IT! It's really not all that cute to potential buyers. If you’re trying to sell your house right now, you’ve got to sacrifice this year’s haunted-house motif and try to keep the place looking presentable and respectable. Try a fall harvest motif, if you are compelled to decorate. A few nice pumpkins, some cornstalks and perhaps a few other traditional fall decorations will add a touch of class and not overwhelm the visitors.

The same will be true with Christmas decorations. Some people will begin putting out their Christmas lawn displays as soon as they take down the Halloween stuff. If your house is on the market, leave the plastic Santa's and the reindeer with nodding heads in storage this year. If you must put a few lights up outside, be discrete and think “less is more” when planning your display; and whatever you do, avoid the temptation to put those huge blow-up figures of the Grinch or Santa on your lawn. Inside a few nice wreaths and some seasonal swags, maybe combined with some discrete electric candles in the windows. That looks classic. Decorating the mantle and putting up a traditional tree is OK, too.

Remember also, that a significant part of the population that could visit your house during this season may not be of the same religion as you and may come from cultures that do not celebrate the same holidays as you. Forcing them to run a gauntlet of Christmas religious figures or symbols may put them ill at ease. You’re trying to sell a house not evangelizing potential buyers.

So decorate with discretion for Halloween and Christmas, while your house is on the market. If you need a guide, go buy a Martha Stewart book and she what she recommends. Somehow I doubt that Martha’s yard looks like the one above either.

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