Listing Photos: Your Home’s First Showing

A picture is worth a thousand words, and could be worth thousands of dollars when it comes to attracting the right buyers to your home.

Let’s face it, buyers form their first impression of your home based on the online listing. As they say, Web appeal is the new curb appeal.

If you are serious about selling your home, you have to take your listing photo shoot very seriously. If your photos don’t excite buyers, they may not step foot inside.

You should prepare for your photo shoot as much as you would for an open house or private showing. Work alongside an excellent local real estate agent, and follow these tips to make sure your home looks its best.

Never list your home online without photos

Today’s buyers get email and text alerts when a new home that matches their criteria hits the market. There is nothing more frustrating than to see the desired address come across as an alert, only for the listing to be incomplete.

Buyers (and agents) will punish you for jumping the gun. Will they go back later and look again, once you have the photos up? Maybe — but maybe not.

You’re adding an extra step for them, and it comes across like you don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not a great way to start out with your future customer.

Clean, declutter, organize and remove

You should spend a good amount of time preparing for your photo shoot. This means that you fluff the pillows, put toilet seats down, put Fido’s bowl and toys away, and ensure the home is in impeccable condition.

People can zoom in, zoom out and play with photos in online listings. They’ll notice everything. If your photos don’t show your home well, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t care, and that you are not a serious seller.

The buyer is your customer. You have a product for sale. Take the time to present it in the best possible light.

Poor photos won’t cut it

Images that are blurry, poorly lit, or distorted are not going to sell your home.

It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who will take high-resolution photos, and even bring extra lighting or equipment to enhance their work. They’ll also take dozens of pictures and work tirelessly to show your home in the right light and from the best angles.

Don’t skimp on the number of photos

When it comes to photos, the more, the merrier. You want to make it easy on buyers to get comfortable with and learn more about your home.

Not only are the listing photos their initial impression, but they serve to help orient the buyer after the first or second showing. Once they have been through the home in person, they are better able to relate to the floor plan and how it flows. Going back to the listing photos allows them to make connections and dig deeper. Encourage them to do so by posting plenty of photos.

Ready to put your home on the market? Check out our Home Sellers Guide for more tips and resources.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published February 2, 2016.


Actor Walton Goggins Puts His Glamorous Hollywood Hills House on the Market

The actor Walton Goggins, currently starring in the sitcom “The Unicorn,” has put his unique Hollywood Hills home on the market for $3.35 million.

The five-bedroom, three-bathroom home is extraordinary in a number of ways. Chief among them is the fact that it was designed and built by Harold Ogden Sexsmith in 1927, and has only traded hands three times since.

Goggins purchased the place in 2010 for $1,555,000, and has done an admirable job of updating and restoring the property since then, while being careful to preserve its old Hollywood charm. The home is said to resemble the look of the nearby Chateau Marmont.

Among the meticulously restored features are the original coffered front door, hardwood and tile floors, an original wood-burning fireplace, arched openings leading from room to room, and classic casement windows.

Hollywood Hills home
Hollywood Hills home

Living room
Living room

Arched passageways and casement windows
Arched passageways and casement windows

With many original lighting fixtures hanging graciously from wood-beamed ceilings, the 3,240-square-foot home exudes a classic yet comfortable, well-lived-in vibe. Built-in bookcases in many rooms, even the kitchen, provide character.

Breakfast nook
Breakfast nook

The kitchen also features a cozy breakfast nook, top-of-the-line stainless-steel appliances, and is attached to a butler’s pantry/laundry room with a charming Dutch door leading to the side yard.

Vintage kitchen with modern appliances
Vintage kitchen with modern appliances

Every one of the bedrooms, one en suite guest room downstairs and four others upstairs, feature the beautiful and classic casement windows.

Guest room
Guest room


The main suite features a pristine bath and a large walk-in closet. Another bedroom located upstairs is currently being used as a spacious office, with more built-ins. The listing photos show that it was well-used by Goggins.

Main bedroom
Main bedroom


The outdoor areas on the private and gated large lot also have a natural, vintage feel, and have been masterfully tended. There are two outdoor dining areas, a fire pit/lounge, mature fruit trees that yield a generous harvest every year, and a lovely pool, lit with strings of overhead lights.

Porch with built-in seating
Porch with built-in seating

Outdoor dining area
Outdoor dining area


Goggins, 49, is one of the busiest men in Hollywood, currently starring in not one but two comedy series, the aforementioned “The Unicorn” and “The Righteous Gemstones.” Prior to that, he’s had leads in TV series including “The Shield,” “Justified,” “Vice Principals,” and “Six.” He has also appeared in such films as “Cowboys and Aliens,” “Django Unchained,” “The Hateful Eight,” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

Josh Myler of The Agency has the listing.


‘FBI’ star Jeremy Sisto sells a half-built home in Laurel Canyon

Jeremy Sisto is letting someone else finish the job in Hollywood Hills. The actor, who’s known for his roles in “Six Feet Under,” “Law & Order” and “FBI,” just sold a 1940s home that’s halfway through a remodel for $2.57 million.

That’s a little more than the $2.45 million he paid in 2013 when he bought it from Cassian Elwes, the British film producer behind “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Billionaire Boys Club.” Sisto had an interesting route to selling the place; records show he sought $2.4 million for it last summer before upping the price to $2.6 million in January and finding a buyer soon after.

At half an acre, the Laurel Canyon retreat offers a bit more space than the neighbors on a large corner lot. In addition to the 3,000-square-foot main house, there’s a guesthouse, lagoon-style swimming pool and patio with a fire pit.

The back patio

The back patio features a fire pit.

(Andre Warren)


The bones are in place, but the interiors are not yet finished. Listing photos show a brick fireplace in the living room and French doors along the back of the home. Elsewhere are three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

A native of Grass Valley, Ca., Sisto began acting in the 1990s and has appeared in an equal mix of films and TV shows over the last three decades. After landing a main role in the HBO drama “Six Feet Under,” he starred in “Law & Order,” “Suburgatory,” “The Returned,” “Wicked City” and “FBI.”

Craig Knizek and Andre Warren of the Agency held the listing. Daniel Jacobson of Compass represented the buyer.


Palm Springs’ House of Tomorrow, an Elvis Presley hideaway, sells for $2.6 million

One of the most striking homes in Palm Springs has finally sold. All it took was six years of relists and price cuts that saw the original $9.5-million tag slowly whittled down to the final sale price of $2.6 million.

Known as the House of Tomorrow, the futuristic dwelling in Vista Las Palmas not only stands out as one of the most stylish Midcenturies in a city filled with them, but it also holds a special place in rock ‘n’ roll history. The home is where Elvis and Priscilla Presley went after their secretive wedding in 1967, and listing photos show a portrait of the couple adorning one of the stone-clad walls.

Built by Midcentury architect William Krisel, the innovative digs serve as a time capsule of the 1960s. Floating fireplaces, rock walls and terrazzo floors adorn the interior, which is made up of four circular wings that total 5,000 square feet.


It’s pretty much entirely in touch with its original style today, with rounded walls of glass and a dramatic, eye-catching roofline. Floating stone spheres ascend to the massive double-door entry.

One of the main highlights inside is the sunken living room, which features a ring of clerestory windows and a floating fireplace hanging from the ceiling in the center. Built-in seating wraps around the room.

Other spaces include a chandelier-topped dining area and kitchen with a circular center island. Five bedrooms and five bathrooms complete the floor plan. Outside, lawns and landscaping add some color to the private backyard, which is anchored by a swimming pool vaguely shaped like a chevron.

Scott Histed of Bennion Deville Homes held the listing. Marc Sanders of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer.


3 Weird Things You Can Ignore When Home Shopping

Ugly paint colors? Treadmill in the kitchen? Creepy family portraits in every room? Don’t let it bug you.

In 15 years of real estate, I can honestly say that I’ve seen it all. Toilet seats up in listing photos, shag carpet covered with dog hair, bedrooms doubling as marijuana growing centers, and avocado green appliances from the ’70s.

Sellers aren’t required to get their homes in their best condition before showing them — let alone cleaning their home before listing. But one seller’s laziness can spell a giant upside for the right buyer.

Here are three sights that may be off-putting when you’re shopping for a home, but shouldn’t stop you from considering making an offer — particularly if you love the home, layout or location.

Odd wallpaper and dirty carpet

Today’s buyers generally prefer a home that’s turn-key or move-in ready. They’re too busy with their day-to-day lives to take on a renovation — and this is especially true for the continuously connected, mobile-ready millennial home buyer.

But painting walls and replacing carpets isn’t always time-consuming or expensive, and you can do these projects before moving in.

If a seller won’t replace their shag carpet or paint the interior a neutral color, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

A fresh coat of paint and finished floors or new carpet won’t break the bank or take more than a week, and the end product will be a like-new home for you to move into.

Rooms being strangely used

It’s not uncommon to see a home’s dining room transformed into a full-fledged office. Some homeowners even have a bedroom doubling as a walk-in closet. I once saw a first-floor bedroom turned into a wine-tasting room.

Just because the homeowner uses these spaces in a way that suits them, doesn’t mean you have to. These rooms might stand out as odd to you, but try to forget that the seller lives there.

Once they’ve moved out, the dining room will be a space that just needs a great light fixture and table. The walk-in closet can be turned back into a bedroom in less than a day.

A too-strong seller presence

It’s difficult for a buyer to imagine themselves in a home if it’s full of the seller’s photos, diplomas and other personal belongings. The best homes for buyers are those that are neutral and lacking any items specific to the owner.

What’s worse is when the seller is present at a showing. It makes everyone uncomfortable. The buyers feel like they need to be on their best behavior and can’t explore the house, dig deep into closets or cabinets, or feel free to talk out loud about what they see.

A home that is too personalized or where the seller is always present can sit on the market and get a bad reputation over time. A smart buyer will use that to their advantage and snag it below the asking price.

Sellers who sabotage their home sale — whether intentionally or not — leave money on the table for the buyer. But typical consumers today have a hard time seeing through a seller’s mess, personalized design style or custom changes.

If you see a home online that’s in a great location with a floor plan that’s ideal, go see it. Ignore the things you can change, and think about whether you can make the home your own.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published on July 4, 2016.


Should you buy a house sight unseen? Here’s what you need to know

A smart way to speed up your house hunt?

Many home buyers these days have to move quickly. That’s because demand outweighs supply, and appealing homes that hit the market often generate bidding wars and sell fast.

Some buyers eager to move fast will buy a home ‘sight unseen,’ without ever touring the place in person.

This can be a good strategy in a competitive real estate market. But sight-unseen homes aren’t without risk. Here’s what you should know before making an offer.

Verify your home buying eligibility (Feb 2nd, 2021)

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What does it mean to buy a house ‘sight unseen’?

Purchasing a home ‘sight unseen’ means buying it without having toured the property in person first.

Typically, someone buying a home sight-unseen will have looked at pictures and videos online and likely taken a virtual tour.

While it might sound odd to buy a home without having set foot in it, more and more home buyers are choosing to do so.

According to recent research by Redfin, a surprising 63% of those who purchased a home in 2020 made an offer on a property they hadn’t viewed in person.

Why remote home buying is increasing

There are several reasons why more buyers are opting to purchase a home sight unseen lately.

“Given the ongoing [coronavirus] pandemic, it makes sense that people make offers on properties without actually physically touring them,” says Rajeh Saadeh, a real estate attorney, investor, and professor.

“After all, people are trying to limit physical contact and going into places where they do not know if any occupants have COVID-19.”

“In hot markets, you must submit offers in minutes or hours, not days” –Bruce Ailion, Realtor and attorney

Bruce Ailion, a Realtor and attorney, agrees.

“The market has changed. People need to move quickly, and touring a home in person before an offer may not be possible. In hot markets, you must submit offers in minutes or hours, not days,” he says.

He points out, “Today, photos and videos are of better quality. And a smart buyer should be able to rely on a high-quality agent or broker to act as their eyes, ears, nose, and fiduciary.”

How to buy a house sight unseen

The process of buying a home sight unseen isn’t too different from a traditional home purchase. You’re simply using online photos, videos, and tours in place of an in-person tour or open house.

Saadeh says the following steps are involved for the buyer:

  1. Evaluate the property remotely using photos, facetime or video tours, and descriptions provided by your real estate agent or broker
  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage to show the seller you can afford to finance the home
  3. Make an official offer to the seller to purchase the property
  4. If the seller likes the offer and accepts it, you and the seller prepare a contract
  5. Both parties sign the contract
  6. You make an earnest money deposit (or ‘good faith money’) in cash
  7. You have the property professionally inspected (optional but strongly recommended, especially for a sight-unseen offer). If you are satisfied with the inspector’s findings, the deal continues
  8. You order a title report. If the title is clear or clearable at closing, the deal continues
  9. You choose a mortgage lender, finalize the terms of your home loan, and lock an interest rate

Then, as with any purchase, you’ll schedule a closing date to sign your final loan documents.

Once the mortgage is finalized, your lender pays the home seller and the home title transfers to you. You’re now the official owner.

Start your mortgage pre-approval (Feb 2nd, 2021)

Is buying a home sight unseen a bad idea?

There are pros and cons to purchasing a home sight unseen.

“On the positive side, you may get to purchase the property for a bit less because you moved quickly and avoided a bidding war,” notes Caleb Parr, vice president of Sales and Acquisitions at Renshaw Company Realtors.

Virtual home tours can also be helpful for long-distance purchases, like buying a home out of state.

“Most people end up visiting a home multiple times during the purchase phase. This can cost a lot of money if you are having to travel out of state to tour the home,” says Nathaniel Hovsepian investor and owner of The Expert Home Buyers.

“You may get to purchase the property for a bit less because you moved quickly and avoided a bidding war” –Caleb Parr, VP of Sales and Acquisition, Renshaw Company Realtors

On the other hand, with a sight-unseen offer, you won’t have the benefit of previewing the property in person.

You’ll have to rely on photos, video, virtual tours, and the descriptions and opinions provided by your real estate agent and home inspector.

“Given that a home purchase is likely the most expensive transaction of your life, it’s important to adequately ‘kick the tires’ and determine the true condition of the property,” cautions real estate attorney Charles R. Gallagher.

“There is great risk in failing to see defects to the property with a sight-unseen purchase, particularly if you choose not to have the home professionally inspected.”

Even when you’re in a rush, real estate experts recommend getting a home inspection to make sure there aren’t any major issues the seller neglected to disclose. An inspection is your one chance to get the seller to cover repair costs — or walk away if the problem is a deal-breaker.

Precautions to take with sight unseen homes

Again, there are risks involved with committing to a sight-unseen home. To minimize these risks, it pays to take special precautions.

“Try to have someone you trust at least drive-by the home and take fresh videos and pictures so that you know what you are getting. It’s possible that these images may more accurately reflect the property’s current condition than the images displayed on a website,” says Parr.

A friend or family member in the area you hope to buy could be a big help in this regard.

Additionally, consider placing a home inspection contingency in your offer.

“A buyer does not have a trained eye to notice or even look for issues and concerns with a home. It’s always prudent to have the property professionally inspected, whether or not the buyer did a walk-through or simply viewed pictures and video before making the offer,” advises Saadeh.

Also — using your agent as your representative — be sure to ask the homeowner about any aspects you aren’t sure about based on the listing photos and video tours; including home features, appliances, systems, design aspects, or potential renovations.

Buying a house sight unseen FAQ

Can you put in an offer on a home without viewing it?

It’s perfectly legal to make an offer on a home ‘sight unseen,’ meaning you haven’t viewed it in person. Sight-unseen offers are becoming more popular as home inventory remains low and COVID prevents home buyers from touring propreties.

What is a sight unseen addendum?

A sight unseen addendum is part of a home purchase agreement. It indicates the buyer has not seen the property in person, and accepts the purchase terms without an in-person viewing and without walk-through contractual entitlements, per real estate attorney Charles Gallagher.

Can you buy a house virtually?

It’s possible to buy a home virtually. But it has more to do with how your mortgage closes than how you view the home. “Some may define a sight-unseen purchase and a virtual purchase as the same thing. However, a remote or video closing doesn’t involve closing in person, which can happen even if the property is being purchased sight-unseen,” says Rajeh Saadeh, real estate attorney.

How quickly can you buy a house?

The time it takes to buy a home can vary a lot, depending on whether there are competing offers or multiple negotiation stages between the seller and buyer. If everything else goes smoothly, though, the longest stage of the home buying process is closing the mortgage. This usually takes around 30 days.

Do I need a real estate agent to buy a home sight unseen?

No, you don’t need a real estate agent to purchase a home sight unseen. “But it is prudent to use an agent to purchase a home. You can benefit from this person’s expertise in terms of valuation, deal points, and guidance through the entire transaction,” recommends Charles Gallagher, real estate attorney.

It’s especially helpful to have a professional on your side if you can’t see the home in person, or if you’re a first time home buyer without much experience in real estate.

Should I buy a home sight unseen?

The answer depends on your risk tolerance and the degree to which you perform due diligence on the property.

Purchasing a home sight unseen can help you avoid a bidding war and buy your new home more quickly.

“But a sight-unseen purchase increases the odds of an unfavorable outcome for the buyer. You may be saddled with some undisclosed defect that can cost you upwards of tens of thousands of dollars,” says real estate attorney Charles Gallagher.

So take certain precautions. You should have the home professionally inspected, make sure you’re satisfied with the inspection results, and consult closely with your real estate agent or broker throughout the process.

Can I buy a house as-is?

Anyone can purchase a home as-is. This simply means the “seller has no obligation to improve the property or make it better for the buyer,” Rajeh Saadeh explains. If you’re considering a home listed ‘as-is,’ you should be sure to have it inspected before you buy to make sure there are no major issues you’ll end up paying to repair.

Do I have to be physically present at closing?

The answer depends on the state you live in. Some states require in-person notarization. And some lenders require that a buyer sign documents in the presence of a notary.

If you choose a lender that offers ‘e-closings,’ and live in a state that allows remote mortgage closings, then you do not need to be physically present on closing day.

If there is no loan because you’re buying the home with cash, there is no obligation for a buyer, a seller or a closing agent to be in the same room or even building to conclude a closing. “Everything can be done by mail, email, and wire transfer,” real estate attorney Rajeh Saadeh explains.

What can go wrong at closing?

Issues can occur at closing if you no longer qualify for the mortgage you were pre-approved for. This might be the case if you lost your job or had a negative change to your income or credit score between applying and closing. In this case, you’ll need to re-apply and see if you still qualify for financing. If not, the deal can fall through.

Other potential issues at closing include problems discovered with the property’s title, a bank transfer of funds that falls through, or document errors. Consult closely with your mortgage lender, real estate agent, title company, and attorney to avoid these and other problems.

The first step to buying a home

Whether you’re buying a home sight unseen or touring homes the traditional way, the first step in the process remains the same.

You need to get approved for mortgage financing before you can make an offer on any home.

A pre-approval letter verifies your loan amount and your mortgage rate — and it shows the seller your offer is serious. If you hope to move quickly on a home purchase, getting pre-approved first is a must.

Verify your new rate (Feb 2nd, 2021)

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Lessons From Listing Photos: Why This Modest Home Sold in 5 Days and Grew In Value

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

All over the country, housing markets go through boom and bust, even in normal times. But during a pandemic, you might expect that real estate would slow down, and that many buyers would hold their ground—and their cash, waiting for a moment with more economic stability.

However, last summer, when COVID-19 cases were surging and social restrictions made house hunting especially challenging in certain areas, home prices hit record highs.

In July 2020, the median home price hit a new all-time high of $349,000, according to® data. Why? We chalk it up to a low inventory of homes, historically low mortgage interest rates, and people’s desire to own property in less crowded, less expensive locations.

In the suburban areas of Dallas, as in other suburbs around the country, home prices continued to grow as mortgage rates dropped, and city dwellers began to dream of the beauty of a little space.

That may help explain why this three-bedroom, two-bathroom home just outside the city was such a success when it hit the market in July 2020.

It took a mere five days for a buyer to come calling, and the sellers made a profit of nearly $200,000. They purchased the house in 2016 for $596,000, and just four years later, sold it for $779,000.

Of course, a popular housing market isn’t the only reason that this home sold so fast. We’re pretty sure the stylish home improvements, staging, and compelling listing photos had a lot to do with it, too.

Profits like that pique our interest, so we had to take a closer look at the interior changes that were made.

We asked our panel of design and real estate experts to pinpoint what you can glean for your own home projects from the updates the sellers made, as shown in these before and after photos.

Living room

“This room transformation is all about the magic of staging,” says Danny Davis, the owner/broker of San Diego Brokerage in Encinitas, CA.

“New shutters have been added to the windows, and the room has been painted, but beyond those smart upgrades, no major changes have been made to this lovely living room.”

Jonathan Spears, founder of Spears Group with Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty, says the new furniture makes a world of difference.

“The low-profile furniture upgrades are thoughtfully arranged to create a welcoming space,” he says, “allowing for a more comfortable atmosphere.”

As you can see, the color palette—seen in the wall paint, furniture, and accessories—has also been updated.

“They’ve used color in a really smart way,” says Nicole Michael, founder of the Los Angeles and Orange County-based interior design firm Nicole Michael Designs.

“These neutral colors, like the gray sofa, are far more in style than the colors used in the before photos, as are the pops of ginger-colored accents. Adding in pops of color to the bookcases makes them stand out as the great feature they are.”


Watch: Point, Shoot, Sell? To Show Off Your Home, Avoid These Listing Photo Mistakes



This kitchen update demonstrates that you don’t need to undergo a major renovation to make a strong impact.

“The cabinets, countertops, appliances, and even the under-cabinet lighting have all remained the same,” says Davis.

“Keeping the existing cabinets and appliances saved thousands of dollars,” says Michael.

“The use of aged brass finishes for the lighting, cabinet hardware, and faucet are right on trend. When you have the same color/material traveling through a room, it unifies a space and instantly elevates it.”

She adds that the new, lighter flooring makes the room feel much larger than it did before.

Davis also approves of the new banquette seating in the breakfast nook, which he says provides extra seating and storage.

“The result is a spacious, modern, light, bright kitchen that any home buyer could easily imagine themselves in,” he says.


Most of the home received merely cosmetic updates, and it’s likely that every penny saved was poured into the more substantial expansion of this bathroom.

“The bathroom has literally gone from eyesore to selling point,” says John Atamian, a Glendale-based real estate agent.

“And while this extensive renovation is somewhat costly, these upgrades will more than pay for themselves in value added.”

“So many elements in the before photo—the plastic laminate countertop, single-lever faucet, and molded sink—look like a rental apartment, not a single-family home. The after photo, on the other hand, has the spa feeling that home buyers absolutely love,” says Michael.

The experts agreed that the black and white color choices make the room feel crisp and clean, exactly the kind of vibe every bathroom needs.

Davis focused on the change he thinks made the biggest impact.

“Here is one absolute truth I have learned from my many years in real estate: Couples do not want to share a bathroom sink, and dual vanities are high on most home buyers’ lists for that reason,” he says.


While both iterations of this bedroom look cozy and comfortable, the after photo cultivates a more modern vibe, with boho-Scandinavian furnishings. The area rug, bench, and nightstands are all pieces we’d expect to see in current design magazines.

Michael got into more details, explaining the the new gray walls appeal to more buyers. She also says the headboard—which is now the same color as the walls—blends into the room to make the space feel larger.

The sellers pulled a similar trick by changing the fan from wood-toned to white.

“Home buyers want the functionality of ceiling fans, but they don’t necessarily like the look of them,” she says.

So why do all these changes—both big and small—draw in so many more potential buyers? Davis summed it up best.

“A home buyer needs to imagine themselves living in a home when they view it, and ultimately, they want to believe their life will be better if they buy this home,” he says. “Adding glamour, light, and modern flair to a room will have a potential home buyer swooning.”


Selling Your Home During the Holidays? 7 Tips to Help Sell It Fast

November 30, 2020 December 14, 2020 by Julia Weaver

Updated on December 14th, 2020

Believe it or not, the holiday season can be a great time to sell your home. It’s true that the housing market typically heats up during the spring. However, the holiday season is often overlooked as a prime time to sell, especially this year. 

Why? First of all, there is typically less inventory in the housing market, allowing your home to easily stand out among the available inventory. And though there are technically fewer buyers overall, the homebuyers that are looking are far more serious about finding a home within a specific timeframe. So, make your home warm and inviting and open it up to those looking to buy, because selling your home during the holidays might be your best present this year. 

Selling your home during the holidays

Selling your home during the holidays

1) Stage for the holidays. Think clean, cozy, simple.

Yes, you should absolutely decorate your home during the holidays even if you are trying to sell it. The real question you should be asking is, how much

One thing that happens to all homeowners is that we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. This is especially true of holiday decorations. As you begin decorating, channel your inner stager or designer. This year, for the sake of appealing to the buyers touring your home, use your best decorations as holiday accents without drawing attention away from your home’s best selling features.

Your home may have large windows with a great view or an expansive kitchen fit for a chef. Whatever sold you on your home when you first bought it is most likely the same feature(s) that will sell your home during the holidays. Don’t cover up your view with an excessively large Christmas tree and avoid filling your living room in snow globes, nutcrackers, and a large nativity scene. You want to accentuate your home with holiday decor, not bury it.

Holiday decor can help prospective homebuyers imagine your house as their future home. If you have a fireplace, decorate it with garland and hang stockings from the mantle. Use candles and essential oil diffusers with iconic scents of the season, such as pumpkin spice or balsam and cedar. You especially want to keep your home clutter-free and need to clean it regularly. Belongings can easily begin to pile up during the holidays, so make sure you stay on top of it. Create an environment that makes prospective homebuyers feel comfortable and warm the moment they walk through your front door. You want them to feel at home.

Consider working with a professional home stager to create the perfect holiday look to help your home stand out from the competition.

Selling your home during the holidays

Selling your home during the holidays

2) Price your home to sell 

You and your listing agent will most likely come up with a pricing strategy together based on comparable homes in the area, what the current housing market is doing, and what the demand for housing looks like or is projected to do. Ultimately, several variables go into pricing your home to sell, however, there are a couple of easy tricks that can help attract homebuyers.

Price your home competitively

If your home looks like all the other homes on the block with similar features, then a lower price point will definitely draw in more traffic than your rivals. However, if your home is the largest one on the block, has more acreage, or a double car garage and pool, you can price your home based on the increased value it provides. Check out online estimates for how much your home is worth and then compare them to other houses in your area.

Use strategic price points when listing your home

Have you ever noticed while you’re grocery shopping that almost all prices end in .99, such as $1.99 or $4.99? This simple manipulation of pricing is called setting strategic price points and actually makes the price of something appear smaller (or cheaper) than it really is. The same exact concept works when pricing your house to sell. For example, if you decide your home could sell for $500,000, pricing it at $499,000 can (theoretically) draw in more traffic and possibly more offers.

3) Make your curb appeal a top priority

Your neighborhood may actually look more appealing to homebuyers during the holiday season. You don’t want to go overboard with your exterior holiday decorations, but you want to make your house shine along with the other homes on your block.

During these winter days, your lawn may not be that lush green it usually is during the summertime and your trees may currently be barren. That’s why making your curb appeal a top priority is necessary when selling your home in winter. Make sure to pick up all the sticks, dead leaves, and any other debris and that your lawn is neatly trimmed. Even during the colder months, a few weeds that poke up from the ground can make your lawn seem neglected. If you have pictures of your home at alternative times of the year when your curb appeal is burgeoning with flora, these may also be a good idea to have available for homebuyers during home tours. This way, instead of homebuyers trying to picture your house in other seasons, they can just see it for themselves.

4) Keeping your property safe for homebuyers

Outside temperatures are well below freezing during the holiday season in most of the United States. Driveways and walking paths are blanketed in snow and ice, and icicles hang from gutters like glass curtains. A legitimate concern for home sellers in one of these colder climates is how to keep your property safe for homebuyers. The only thing you can really do is be proactive and break out that snow shovel and start clearing a path.

If you’re expecting snow on an almost weekly basis, then it might be best to hire out professionals to come by once a day and make sure your driveway, front steps, and any walking paths are cleared for people touring your home.

Yellow shovel for shoveling snow when selling your home during the holidays

Yellow shovel for shoveling snow when selling your home during the holidays

5) Turn on the (holiday) lights

To complement the coziness of your home, you’ll also want to make it bright. Turn on all the lights in your house during open houses and virtual home tours. It may be the darkest time of year outside but you can make sure it doesn’t feel that way inside your home.

This is a great time to replace burnt out light bulbs and fix light switches that aren’t working. You may also want to consider making all your interior lighting the same color temperature, such as a soft white which brightens rooms without giving you that institutional feel. This will help with consistent lighting throughout your home, creating a balanced feel as potential homebuyers walk through each room.

6) Take professional real estate photos when selling your home during the holidays

The best thing you can do for your house in terms of marketing it to potential homebuyers is getting professional real estate photos taken. In fact, research shows that professional photos can help sell your house faster and for more money. This is the one time you don’t want to have your holiday decor on display. In fact, getting your professional photos taken of your house before you decorate is a must because holiday decorations essentially create a time-stamp of your home. 

If you have trouble selling your home during the holidays be sure your house isn’t still rocking holiday lights in the listing photos come February or March, or you risk turning off potential homebuyers. Plan on hiring a professional photographer as soon as possible so you can decorate for the holidays and enjoy the season.

7) Get Santa’s perspective with aerial photography

It doesn’t matter if you live in sunny Tampa, FL, or buried in snow in Minneapolis, MN, consider aerial photography to help make your home stand out this holiday season. If your home has acreage, a view, or any other amenity that cannot be fully captured unless it’s done by air, then aerial photography may be just what you need. 

Drone photography offers buyers a unique perspective of your home and can help make your listing stand out among the other homes for sale online. It also gives potential buyers an overview of your neighborhood along with other amenities that may be within walking distance of your home.


Lessons From Listings Photos: See the Power of Staging in This Pennsylvania Carriage House

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

These days, staging a home—redecorating it with furnishings and decor selected to appeal to buyers—is an important step that nearly every homeowner should think about when it’s time to sell their house.

When potential buyers view a home—whether online or in person—you want them to be able to picture themselves in your space. But it’s hard to do that when your personal stuff is everywhere. That’s where staging comes in. It’s a tool to highlight the strengths of each room and eliminate anything that could give potential buyers pause—be that clutter, personal belongings, or design decisions that just aren’t for everyone.

If you’ve ever doubted the power of staging a home before listing it, this Pennsylvania home will make you see the light.

Built in 1925, it has many great features and tons of character, but it still didn’t sell when it was listed for $810,000 in August 2019. In June 2020, it was relisted with brand-new photos of fully staged interiors. We’re talking streamlined furniture and rugs in clean, neutral colors. No more mismatched wooden furniture! And just two months later it was sold for $820,000, a little more than the initial asking price.

Since home staging costs around $2,000 to $2,400 a month (the furnishings are rented), that seems like money well-spent, especially when you consider the money lost on extra mortgage payments while the home sits on the market.

We went right to our experts to find out why the staging of this house attracted a buyer—and how you can have the same success in your home. Here’s what they had to say.

Living room

The living room in this house had a lot of great features, but the original setup didn’t allow them to stand out.

“When you have a feature wall, such as the stone wall shown here, it’s best to showcase that instead of covering it up with bulky furniture,” says Dawn Gerali, a real estate agent with West USA. “The modern, lighter-colored furniture and minimalist artwork works well to make this a comfortable, inviting space.”

“By simplifying the color of all the furnishings, it is less distracting to the eye,” explains Lisa Vail, designer with Vesta. “A potential buyer can easily find themselves stepping into the space and making it their own.

Vail adds that swapping out the furniture is a quick and easy move that gives the perception that the entire house has been updated.


There was nothing really wrong with the original kitchen in this house, but it had a mismatched vibe that made it hard to present a functional, uncluttered space. Yet the magic of staging changed all of that with just a few simple swaps.

“The kitchen island has been staged with bigger stools and place settings, and the shelves have been cleared as well,” says Will Rodgers, a real estate consultant with KW Realty McLean. “This gives the buyer the idea that the kitchen can be a good area for meals, and makes it appear less cluttered.”

Jill Valeri, a home stager and owner of Welcome Home: Interior Design Solutions, says the staged version of the room just feels better to potential buyers.

“The matching stools, place settings, and small vases by the stove create a visually appealing rhythm in the space, while emptying the built-in shelves makes them less distracting,” she says. “The overall effect is that the buyer can now focus on the beautiful marble and vast counter spaces.”

Dining room

Obviously the selling point in this dining room is the gorgeous ceiling beams, but unless the room is staged right, they may look more like a hindrance than anything.

“The ornate furniture in the before photo competes with the wood-beamed ceilings and windows. It detracts from the room’s architectural features,” explains Gerali. “The sleek, modern furniture in the after photo draws attention to the beautiful ceiling and the natural light coming in through the windows.”

Marla Perez, account executive with Vesta, agrees.

“Staging this dining room made it feel larger and more grand,” she says. “Changing the orientation of the dining room table elongated the dining room, and adding a neutral rug brightened the space. The updated furniture and upholstered dining chairs created a more formal dining [area] for entertaining.”


Very little has changed in the bedroom of this home, save for the new furniture and decor, but it feels like a totally different space.

“They have elevated this room simply by adding the appropriate-scale bed and neutralizing the color palette,” says Vail. “The original bed was way too high for the room and drew attention to the odd nook it was set in. But now it looks like the nook was built intentionally for the bed.”

Rodgers emphasizes the impact of the cosmetic changes.

“This bedroom feels more airy and natural after the old chests and dressers were replaced with plants, neutral-colored linens, and a serene piece of art over the bed,” he says. “This gives buyers a relaxing feel upon entering the room, which is perfect for a bedroom.”