‘Tis the season for jingle bells, snowmen and cheer – but for those trying to sell their homes, listing during the holidays presents unique challenges. Not only are there generally fewer active buyers this time of year, but inclement weather and the early onset of night can discourage prospective real estate seekers from trekking out to see your property.
It’s important to ensure your home shines, even against a wintery backdrop – here are some top tips for staging your home during the holiday season.
Just Add Salt
Providing clear and safe access to your home during the winter months is an absolute must. For those living in a detached house or townhome, be sure to shovel and salt all walkways, driveways and stairs. Not only is it vital for protecting your liability should a visitor slip and fall, but it’s also an important optic that improves your curb appeal.
Adding a few winter-proof elements (such as evergreen shrubbery or lanterns) can add some much needed warmth and green to your otherwise frosty façade. The same goes for condo balconies; ensure they are well-swept of snow, with furniture and cushions properly stored.
Coats Off!
Don’t let prospective open house viewers track unsightly sludge and salt through your door. Dedicate a portion of your landing or hallway as an outer-wear strip zone. Provide water-proof trays for soggy boots and ample racks and shelving so visitors aren’t left awkwardly carrying their coats around. Keep a few plastic shoe covers on hand too, just in case. Your gleaming hardwood floors will thank you!
Shine Your Best Light

A main challenge during the winter months is a lack of sunshine – a pity since most homes show best in soft, natural lighting. Host your open house during daylight weekend hours whenever possible to take advantage of winter’s weak solar power. It’s also a good idea to invest in lighting that casts a flattering glow during evening viewings. Where possible, swap out any harsh ultra-bright white or yellow bulbs or fluorescent lighting with well-placed and nicely-shaded lamps.
Ditch the Tree
Not to be a Grinch, but a Christmas tree will only serve to clutter up your living room and distract from other important features you hope to showcase. Same goes for stockings, tinsel and strings of outdoor lights. While your holiday décor may be charming to some, the kitsch can work against the sophisticated and clean space you’re presenting to prospective buyers. Instead, show chic details that reflect the holiday season such as plaid throws, warmly-scented candles, and a festive plant or two. Focus on offering a cozy winter respite, rather than Santa’s workshop. As well, keep in mind that overtly religious fixtures can be off putting to some buyers.
Showcase Warm Weather Potential
While your home’s curb appeal may be buried under feet of snow, it’s still important to let buyers know it’s there. Include photos of your garden in full bloom, and your patio on a summer’s evening, so buyers can visualize enjoying the outdoor spaces as well as in.
Stay Toasty
Showing your home isn’t the time for trying to save on your heating bill. Ensure the inside temperature is set at a comfortable range; buyers who shiver while taking the tour will be less likely to feel the home is comfortable, and may even develop a negative connotation about it. It’s also wise to apply a few cold-weather seasonal upgrades, such as sealing an drafts, investing in air-tight efficient windows and doors, as well as additional insulation where it’s needed.

Penelope Graham is a managing editor at Zoocasa, a real estate brokerage based in Toronto. 

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