Christmas or other holiday decor at one's entryway, tastefully done, can be the eye candy that catches the interest of a potential home buyer. It's a truism but, indeed, first impressions are critical when selling any home, said Lee Ralph, a Realtor in Coldwell Banker's North Tampa office. So go ahead, perk up your home with a bit of sparkle and shine. "We even negotiated a contract on Christmas Day last year," Ralph said.
Terri Bryce Reeves, Times correspondent
. The basics
Save the giant inflatable Santa Claus for another year. He may look jolly on the lawn, but his big belly could mask important architectural features of your home. Park his reindeer and sleigh in the attic too.
Ralph noted that because we live in a diverse, multicultural area, sellers may want to minimize or forgo religious symbols during the holidays.
"If you overdecorate with items that make strong personal statements, you may keep the buyer from being comfortable and able to visualize the home as their own," Ralph said.
. Make an entrance
Designer Rick Davies, co-owner of Lafayette & Rushford Home, a home decor store in Dunedin, suggests that sellers keep beautiful, elegant themes that appeal to universal tastes.
"This is not the time to bring out the Star Wars wreath," he said. "Play it safe."
He also recommended the following:
• When considering a theme or look, work with the color, style and age of the house and door.
"And of course scale, proportion and balance are important. Don't put a tiny wreath on a great big door," Davies said.
• He favors swags that frame the door or wreaths hung from ribbons.
• If a showing is scheduled during dusk or evening hours, he recommends that sellers light the way with tiny lights strung along the sidewalk.
Davies favors energy-efficient LED lights. "They come in all different colors and shapes now, and you can string together miles of them without blowing the breaker box," he said.
. Think chic
If your annual artificial swags or wreaths look outdated, refresh their look. Remove old or loud adornments and add a few trendy touches.
Bright greens, lemongrass, golds and ambers are popular holiday colors this year that reflect the focus on the environment.
Natural-looking and organic materials are also in vogue. Think berries, artichokes, moss, twigs, acorns, icy glass sprays or feathers.
Pottery Barn and Pier 1 feature peace symbol wreaths and ornaments this year, in hues of green and gold. Vintage-looking mercury glass and ornaments with patina are also in vogue. It's also fashionable to mix warm and cool metallics — gold, silver, copper and bronze.
And it's never wrong to go for a seaside look with attractive shells and other pearls of the sea, Davies said. "It's one of our most popular looks. Many buyers are from up north, and this is the look they love,'' he said. Winter visitors may be Christmas shopping for a second home, and beach themes appeal.
. Natural greenery
Pick up wreaths and garlands at roadside stands, local florists or online. Andrew's Florist on Fourth Street in St. Petersburg carries a variety of greenery, as do other shops in the bay area. Some greenery is in stock now, but other types can be ordered. If you're wondering what to buy, store owner Blanca Michaels shared descriptions:
Balsam: soft needles, a traditional look and scent
Cedar: soft, flat needles, classic fragrance
Noble fir: soft blue-green needles, mild, pleasant scent
Douglas fir: fine, soft green needles with long-lasting pinelike aroma
Princess pine: long needles, soft to the touch, distinct pine scent
Holly: pretty with its red berries, but it can prick fingers
Juniper: A pungent aroma, and some people love the smell, Michaels said, "but some people hate it."
Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at email@example.com.