Do's and Don'ts of Decorating Your Home for Tours [Seasonal Real Estate]

Preparing your home to sell can be challenging. Cleaning out your home so others can tour every inch and evaluate whether they like it or not can be stressful. Thankfully, we've developed some common themes over the years that have set sellers up for success. There's a delicate balance between decorating your home just enough before you've done too much. Here are some helpful tips to give you the best shot at decorating your home in a way that buyers will appreciate. 

Do's for Decorating Your Home to Sell

Here are some pointers to think about when setting your home up for tours. 

Do Strive for Minimalism

Staging your home can be fun and exciting. If you think about HGTV and all of the creative ways professional designers can transform a room, that might give you some inspiration for preparing your home to sell. Try to keep the extra decorating and staging as minimal as possible. 

Buyers will want to be able to imagine how they would use that space. Filling the room with too much furniture and decorations can distract them and keep their imagination from running free. Also, an area with too much furniture can make the buyer feel crammed or make the room seem too small. Realtors agree that the best selling point is a spacious room. Keeping the furniture and other decorations to a minimum is the best way to make the room feel spacious. 

Do Go with Seasonal Decor (Within Reason)

It's perfectly acceptable to spice up your decorations with seasonal tones and holiday decorations. During the holiday season, buyers might like to see how they can utilize their space for decorations. For example, a thoughtful touch of traditional Christmas decorations is great around the holiday season. Getting buyers in a joyful mood could be a successful advantage. 

Keep in mind, you should probably stick with generic decorations that nobody will be offended. We expand on what types of decorations to avoid in the "Don'ts" section. Be sure to use seasonal decorations wisely, as they can turn off the buyer if you take it too far. However, the good news is that you can still keep up some seasonal decorations around the holidays; you just might have to reign it in if you plan to invite buyers over for tours. 

Do Stage Your Home

What a buyer might imagine from your home might be different than how you have it set up to live in. In other words, staging might not be the most "functional" setup, but it's definitely the most appealing to buyers. Whether you want to hire a professional interior designer or stage the home yourself, it's crucial to arrange your furniture and decorations in a thoughtful way that will be appealing to buyers. 

Some buyers even purchase rental furniture and place their used furniture in storage. This is a great idea if you've already moved out and the place is empty. You don't have to stage every room if you've already moved out, but staging up the living room and one bedroom can give the buyer something to imagine. 

Stagers can also help with decorations that fit the style of the home. Some people have excellent design sense and can make their home look perfect. If you're like me, you probably don't have a good understanding of style, and you'll need to hire a professional. Either way, staging your home can be complicated, but it could pay off in a quick sale or a high offer. 

Do Remove Any Personal Items

This serves two purposes. First, there's an element of safety. You might not want everyone who comes into your home to see your kids' pictures that might tell them more than they need to know. Try to take down all your family portraits or any other decorations that might be considered personal to you. 

Also, we want buyers to feel comfortable when touring the home and imagine settling down with their family. When they see your family, it might make it harder to imagine themselves living there. Instead, seeing all of your personal items might make them feel like a guest rather than seeing themself living there. At the end of the day, you're selling the home, so you want others to feel like they can be comfortable buying the house for their family. 

Do Have Pleasant Scents

You want to make the buyers feel like they've already moved in and they're relaxing while the cookies are baking in the oven. If you're not into baking, you can light a candle that gives off a warm and cozy feeling. Some sellers don't realize that you want to make the place feel like home in as many ways as possible. Filling the air with wonderful smells could be a great way to put them in the right mood and really enjoy touring the home. Just don't take the candles overboard because some people are sensitive to strong perfumy smells. 

Do Shoot for a Warm and Cozy Feel

The best thing you can do to prepare your home is to make it feel as comfortable as possible. The number one factor a buyer is looking for when buying a home is, "could I see myself living here?" The emphasis on living includes relaxing, hanging out, hosting guests and family members, or just going through everyday life. Some select buyers might be looking for a luxury home with fancy furniture they'll probably never sit in, but most buyers want to know that they can feel safe and comfortable in their home. 

Don'ts for Decorating Your Home to Sell

We've found a few key factors that turn off buyers the most when they're touring a home. Consider these "don'ts" when setting up your home to sell. 

Don't Leave Up Controversial Decorations

This goes along with the emphasis on comfy and cozy homes. Try to avoid decorations that will make the buyer feel uncomfortable. This could range anywhere from religious or personal decorations to political, sports teams, or otherwise. It's okay to stand up for what you believe, but if you want a better shot at selling your home, avoid controversial decorations. Instead of making the buyer feel welcome and comfortable, divisive decorations could make them feel like an outcast, which is the last thing they would want for their own home. They will associate your home with negative thoughts and will probably move on to tour a different house. 

Don't Go Crazy with Holiday Decor

We mentioned that it is okay to have fun with decorating your home according to the season. However, you definitely can take it too far if you're planning on hosting tours. A common question we get is, "Can I still put up my Christmas decorations?" The answer is a complicated yes and no. Certain decorations will add a great pop of color and set up a cozy theme for the buyers. Others may distract from the home rather than compliment the space. 

Try to stick with traditional decorations like door wreaths or a Christmas centerpiece. Something that will replace standard decorations you probably always use. Avoid adding any garland or bright lights that can be distracting. Also, anything you'll have to continually monitor and keep clean, like a Christmas tree or poinsettias, could be too much work when you're already busy keeping the place spotless. Finally, any Santa, Frosty, or religious-themed decorations could be distracting as well. It's best to stick with generic decor that no one is likely to notice.

Don't Leave Out Expensive/Valuable Decorations

Remember to stow away any items that are important to you or that you wouldn't want a strange to know you have. When selling, your agent is inviting tons of people to tour your home, and it might be hard to keep track of everyone, especially if multiple people come on the tour. It's vital to remove any valuable items if you're going to host an open house because the realtor definitely can't keep track of everyone. We recommend finding a trusted friend or family member to keep your items safe while you're showing the home or take it with you when you leave the house. Buyers typically don't want the seller there because they might get intimidated, so you won't be there to protect your antiques and valuables. 

Don't Ignore the Cluttered Areas

Clutter can make some people anxious. This point ties back to minimalism and the idea that less is more. You may be used to the stack of papers on the counter, but it may catch some unwanted attention by the buyers. Even a bookshelf with stacks of books could be a bit too much if they're not arranged flawlessly. Most people like an empty space, and as long as you have a few essentials in the room, you've got a great start. Remember to declutter any spaces even if that cluttered space is typical to your day-to-day life. 

Don't Fill Up Closets and Storage Space

Full closets make it seem like you're using every inch of that space. A full closet may make the buyer feel claustrophobic or worry if there's enough storage space. Cleaning out the closet and leaving plenty of extra space will show the buyer that there is more than enough storage for their odds and ends. Even if you use every inch of the storage, you can make it seem like you have plenty of space and put the buyer's mind at ease. Buyers will want to look at every inch of your home, so be sure to organize all the rooms, even if it'll take some time to clear out.


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