Across the country, a warm glow is beginning to appear — but might it be from Yuletide decorations destroying the chances of selling your home?
For some people the festive season involves inflatable Santas clinging to windowsills like burglars. Others prefer illuminated reindeers in the front garden.
But if you’re among the 100,000 households trying to sell this Christmas, the advice from many experts is to leave the lights in the garage and the plastic snowman in the loft.
Keep them in the garage: Over-the top decorations
Vendors must avoid anything that handicaps a sale in today’s difficult market.
Rightmove says the average asking price of homes across the UK coming to the market in November is 1.7 per cent down on October, while posh estate agency Savills reports some London prices are now 19 per cent below their peak.
And as buyers struggle to afford mortgages, the number of house sales nationwide this year is expected to be one million, according to Zoopla — or 20 per cent lower than usual.
The Your Move chain of estate agents is clear that decorations should be off the agenda, adding: ‘The key to potential buyers falling in love with a property is them being able to imagine themselves living there.
‘Piles of clutter and decorations make it harder. So make it easier for them by keeping spaces as open as possible.’
The public seems to agree. A survey by GetAgent, a comparison site on which the public can find favourably reviewed estate agents, shows 24 per cent of would-be buyers say they’re deterred from viewing a home with excessive outdoor Christmas lights.
Colby Short, chief executive of GetAgent, advises: ‘Selling at Christmas is no different to any time of year and you have to remember that not everyone will share your tastes, or sense of humour.
‘A blank canvas works best when it comes to attracting potential buyers and if your home is covered in Christmas decorations, it can be hard for them to get a true sense of the property.’
Tasteful: Forget inflatable Santas and pick refined, calming colours if you’re hoping to sell a property this Christmas
Tips for selling a home over Christmas
GetAgent recommends sellers stick to white lights and not coloured, flashing ones visible on a ‘walk-by’ initial viewing, and no gaudy exterior decorations.
Instead it suggests a festive twist on the smell of freshly baked bread — vendors should use Christmas scents such as cinnamon and mulled wine.
Not every agent is against decorations. Some, like Alex Oliver of buying service Prime Purchase, says they are inevitable and most buyers grin and bear them.
Nonetheless he tells sellers that if they must have decorations, they should follow two golden rules.
Firstly, don’t get a home photographed by agents at this time of year because listings on Rightmove with decorations in the photographs will make a home feel stale in the New Year.
Secondly, take the decorations down soon after the festivities to avoid giving the wrong message.
‘If the decorations were still up I’d be concerned there may be other issues that the vendor has not kept on top of such as maintenance or permissions for any works they may have had done,’ Oliver adds.
But many experts say listing your house now and having it on sale over the festive season has unexpected advantages.
That’s because Christmas is when many families have time to make plans for major events such as house-moving and, sadly, many couples agree to split up.
Agents say anyone preferring to view homes now instead of relaxing is likely to be a serious buyer, while there will also be significantly fewer homes on the market too, so you will face less competition.
Twelve months ago there were a jaw-dropping 51 million visits to Rightmove between Boxing Day and the first working day of 2023.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s data director, says: ‘Traffic to our website more than doubles between Christmas and the New Year, those sellers who get a head start now and have their home ready to launch can benefit.’