The holidays are officially here—and while merrymaking and gift shopping are likely top of mind, you may have to keep some of those celebratory urges in check if you're planning to sell your home next year. Why? Because many holiday season activities can come back to haunt you when your house is on the market, even if it's months later.
Don't believe us? Here are five holiday splurges to avoid if you hope to have a smooth home-selling process next year. It's our gift to you! (You'll thank us later.)
1. Don't do decorations that could damage your home
Yes, we know you want to display your holiday spirit. But avoid any decor that could leave behind damage you'll have to repair later—holes in the walls, marks on the floor, screws that mar the side of the house. If you have a live Christmas tree, be careful not to let spilled water sit on hardwood or laminate flooring, which can warp and stain. And it should go without saying that you don't want to paint walls dramatic colors; save the winter wonderland mural for another year.
Think about curb appeal, too. "Avoid blow-up animals and reindeer in the yard," advises Flor Blanchett, a Realtor® at the Keyes Company in Florida. "When you take those things out, especially in the South, they leave spots on the grass that are totally dead for months afterward."
2. Don't clutter your home with huge holiday gifts
The mantra of anyone trying to sell a home? "Declutter, declutter, declutter," says Blanchett.
Don't buy a bunch of gifts that are going to have to be hidden away after the new year.
"If you have young children with toys all over the place, I advise packing it all away in a container under the stairs or somewhere people won't see it," she says.
The basic organizational rule is that you don't want your closets to appear bursting at the seams, which will give the impression there's not enough storage.
Obviously, nobody is saying that Santa has to skip your house this year, but consider forgoing the bulky play kitchen or drivable toy car in lieu of smaller action figures or electronics.
Remember: You're going to have to move all that stuff after you sell the house. You'll thank yourself at packing time if you spring for a gift certificate or jewelry instead of sports equipment or kitchen gadgets.
3. Don't buy appliances or furniture that may not fit your future home
It's another prime gift-giving no-no. Avoid shelling out for appliances, furniture, or anything that's specific to your current home's layout. Unless you already know where you're moving, that gorgeous (and large) new couch might not fit correctly in your new digs. And that sparkling new washer-dryer set is probably going to be a gift for the buyers, since appliances usually stay with the home. Grills, sheds, anything bulky—you're going to either gift it to your buyers in a few months or pay someone to move it. Save the heavy stuff for next year.
4. Don't take on too much holiday-related debt
This is not the year to live out your "new car with a giant bow on it" fantasies. Taking on debt, whether it's credit card debt or a car or boat loan, can hurt your chances of getting approved for a mortgage when you're ready to buy your next home. So, don't go out and buy expensive things; a lender will take note and it could work against you. When in doubt, ask first.
"Speak with your lender if making a real estate purchase after the sale on how much you can spend on big-ticket items," says Dillar Schwartz, a Realtor in Austin, TX.
5. Don't surprise the family with a new pet
The holidays are a common time for families to get a new furry friend—there are even adoption drives based around getting a holiday pet. However, right before you're ready to sell your house is not a terrific time to be housetraining a puppy or teaching a cat not to scratch the couch.
Showing a house with a pet can be challenging enough even when it's not a new pet, and then they're going to have to go through the wildly pet-unfriendly process of moving. However much you're longing for a cat, pup, or capybara, it just makes sense to wait until after the move. Especially the capybara.