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Should Home Sellers Decorate for the Season?

In yesterday’s Journal Sara Schaefer Muñoz wrote about a backlash against over-the-top Christmas displays. Flashing lights and loud holiday music are irking neighbors, with especially disgruntled ones taking knives to the large inflatable plastic snowmen and snow globes that are now a major presence in most suburbs this time of year.

While going overboard with your holiday display may put you on bad terms with your neighbor, what can it do to you as a home seller?

It may hinder your chances of finding a buyer, some real-estate experts say.

Remember that “less is more,” advises Phyllis Pezenik, vice president of Manhattan-based DJK Residential. A wreath on the door, candle lights in the window and some poinsettias can create a homey feeling, she says, but adding too much holiday décor can create a sense of clutter, she says. “People run away from clutter,” she adds.

In this RealEstateJournal article, Jacky Teplitzky, a broker for Prudential Douglas Elliman in Manhattan, says overly plentiful decorations from another season – Halloween – turned buyers away from an Upper East Side apartment that she was marketing for its owners last year. She asked the sellers to take down the decorations, but they refused. The home took a month longer to sell than it should have, Ms. Teplitzky says.

On the other hand, home sellers can use the holiday season to their advantage, says Paul Boomsma, president of Web site, Luxury Portfolio Fine Property Collection. A few years ago, one Lake Forest, Ill., seller of a 27,000-square-foot luxury home put up Christmas decorations in July so photos of the decorated home could be used in for-sale listings for the home, which went on the market in the fall, Mr. Boomsma says. The sellers eventually decided not to sell, but the décor – a mix of fresh pine greens and decorations in gold and silver, “gave the home a lot of warmth,” he says.

People purchase homes for lifestyle and for entertaining family and friends, he says, and the home’s holidays decorations made it feel like “You showed up to the party early,” he says.

Readers: If you had your home on the market, would you decorate it any differently for the holidays than you currently do? Could holiday decorations turn you away as a home buyer?



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