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North Alabama Real Estate Blog

Jim and Caroline Davis


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Real Estate Services and Programs for 2017

by Jim and Caroline Davis

If you are considering purchasing, our real estate market is definitely a buyer's market with many great homes to consider. Today's interest rates are at less than 5%. Call New South Realtors TODAY to assist with your real estate needs!



Extensive, consistent and aggressive marketing is a key component in real estate marketing and generating continued growth. New South Realtors maintains a diversified and comprehensive plan to keep pace with market trends by using demographic research and tourism resources. New South Realtor’s marketing program utilizes multiple forms of media including the internet, Google, Yahoo, Print, Video and Public Presentations.


Property Service

It is our goal at New South Realtors to help maintain your property in the best possible condition. Our exprience demonstrates that a well maintained and clean property will rent more quickly by better qualified tenants and/or future homeowners.



New South Realtors utilizes advanced technology in all aspects of operations, including our website, and the most up to date property management software enabling us to efficiently manage every detail of your property. This increases our efficiency and translates into better service and increased owner revenue.



Inevitably, every property will need upkeep. At New South Realtors we have an on-call support team 24 hours a day to handle emergency issues. Our property management team is supplemented with an extensive network of experienced and trusted vendors to provide specialized services for your property.



Check out our rentals! We have great homes, most of them brand new that have never been lived in and ready to move into! Just like back home, maybe even better with custom amenities such as granite, crown mouldings, hardwoods and design that you see in the best Design Magazines. The builders work with professional interior designers to stay on the cutting edge of style. Many Neighborhood amenities include pool, tennis, clubhouse, & golf. Great locations close to shopping and schools! Maintain or maybe even improve your current standard of living. Forbes magazine stated that Huntsville is the #1 BEST PLACE to live and Business Week announced that Huntsville is the #1 best place to raise kids. Two great commendations all in the month of November 2008. Kiplinger's magazine in July 2009 has voted Huntsville as #1 BEST PLACE to live!


Tenant Programs

At New South Realtors Property Management, our commitment is to create winning experiences for the tenant and the property owner and carefully construct each program so everyone benefits! Regardless of your current credit situation. We have a program that's right for you.

• Relocating? You may want to get to know the area first before determining your permanent residence.

• Credit Issues? Our lease to own program is a perfect way for you to establish a good credit history and purchase the home without moving.

• Need Money? You may have sold your home for less than your mortgage and need time to build up your down payment.·

Regardless of your situation, New South Realtors Property Management offers the best of both worlds to its tenants. You get all the benefits of leasing, followed by the benefits of home ownership.


Let The Davis Team Help YOU Find A House To Make Your Home!

Mortgage Rates Mostly Flat

by Jim and Caroline Davis

Mortgage Rates Mostly Flat

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing mortgage rates largely unchanged from the previous week helping to keep homebuyer affordability high, refinancing strong and should continue to aid the ongoing housing recovery.

Results showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.38 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 17, 2013, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.40 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.88 percent.

Additionally, the 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.66 percent with an average 0.7 point, the same as last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.17 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.67 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, the same as last week. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.82 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.57 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.60. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.74 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

“Mortgage rates were flat to down a little this week amid reports that inflation remains contained,” says Frank Nothaft, Vice President and Chief Economist, Freddie Mac. “The overall producer price index rose 0.1 percent between November and December, below the market consensus forecast, and the consumer price index was unchanged. For the year as a whole, consumer prices rose just 1.7 percent in 2012, almost half that of 2011′s increase of 3.0 percent.”

For more information, visit

Retire in Huntsville Alabama Real Estate

by Jim and Caroline Davis

Retire in Huntsville Alabama Real Estate

Huntsville Alabama real estate has attracted a number of aging Baby Boomers who wish to find a comfortable place to invest and enjoy all the free time they’ve never had. “Our area offers a great playground for Baby Boomers,” says real estate specialist Jimmy Hill. “From fishing, hiking, hunting, golfing, spectator sports to the arts and fine dining, we have a lot to enjoy.”

Located in the northern Alabama, sandwiched between Nashville and Birmingham, the 160,000 residents of Huntsville Alabama real estate love the surrounding mountains, valleys and 1,897 acres of parkland. The weather is agreeable, with an January temperatures averaging around 48 degrees and the summer months climbing up to 89.

Compared to other cities in the state, Huntsville AL real estate is filled with eclectic residents, primarily because the NASA Marshall Flight Center, US Army Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park have attracted the best and the brightest to the region. A lot of people who work at these facilities retire and remain in the area to work as private contractors. On their off-time there’s no shortage of things to do; residents can enjoy the Madison County Botanical Gardens, the US Space & Rocket Center, the Huntsville Museum of Art, Monte Sano State Park and the Alabama Constitution Village. Hill says retirees can enjoy a more urban life, while also indulging in luxuries like the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail facilities.

Resident Mel Fisher said of Huntsville Alabama real estate: “There is a great four-season climate, no recession, lots of job openings, very little crime, a very high percentage of professional people, the latest and best in shopping and entertainment, and very good schools – all in a beautiful area in the Smoky Mountain foothills.” In fact, for all these reasons, US News World & Report has deemed Huntsville one of the “Best, Healthy Places to Retire in 2008.”

John Allen, president of Southern Construction and Design of Huntsville AL real estate, says that Boomers make up a substantial segment of the local market. Often, those approaching retirement seek out territory in older subdivisions close to shopping and entertainment, but they’re also snapping up investment properties. The area’s low housing cost and property taxes, coupled with the rising Huntsville Alabama real estate values, is something even less risky investors can feel good about. Over the years, the median house value has appreciated from $100,000 to $175,000, even in lieu of the nationwide housing crisis.

Recently REDUCED Rental!

by Jim and Caroline Davis



Great Rental Property in Yarbrough Farms Subdivision! 4 Bedrooms PLUS Bonus Room and 2 1/2 Baths! Located in a Cul-De-Sac! Granite Countertops! Tile in Kitchen, Bathrooms & Laundry Room! Hardwoods in Foyer, Dining Room & Family Room!

New Listing Alert!!!! 228 Postwood Court

by Jim and Caroline Davis



Realtor Magazine's TIPS for STAGING ON A BUDGET

by Jim and Caroline Davis

REALTOR® Magazine asked readers of our  Daily Real Estate News e-mail to send in their best tips for sprucing up listings on the cheap. Here are some of the quick, creative ideas that poured into our inbox.


Create a Focal Point

"Pick out the most visible corner and put a large plant—I've found that silk trees work best. Set up a spotlight behind it so it lights up the leaves and throws an interesting shadow on another wall. It really makes a difference in a person's perception of the space, especially if it's a large room without too much natural lighting."

—Izabela Stone, Keller Williams Realty, Apollo Beach, Fla.

Set Up a Chat Room

"Be sure that the living room furniture is positioned for conversation as well as entertainment. Potential buyers should be able to easily envision sitting in a space where they can easily talk without having to move a chair or turn completely around."

—Rana Lindhorst and Troy Schmidt, Prudential One Realty Centre, Edwardsville, Ill.

Get Rid of Carpet Dents

"Furniture often leaves indentations in the carpet. When a piece of furniture is moved, I tell my clients to put medium-sized ice cubes in the imprints. As the ice melts, it causes the compacted carpet to expand and erase those imprints."

—Shawn Moss, Century 21 C.R. O'Neil & Co.

Accent Special Features

"Place an accent by a home's feature, such as an attractive plant near a fireplace to draw the eye to it or a tall palm or two in place that directs the buyer toward another part of the home or suggests a separation of areas. This also ensures that someone often enters the home to care for it."

—Susan Cramer, HomeSmart Real Estate, Temecula, Calif.

Invoke the Outdoors

"Use a little nature in each room. I create a flow throughout the home using cuttings, flowers, dried flowers, whatever will work. Simple things, such as twigs to spell out a word or a small cutting tied with raffia around a pillow on a bed, draw the eye into the room but don't overpower it. I have even used a branch cutting to make a 'tree' in an empty corner. I try to use one piece of nature in each room to create an ongoing theme throughout the home. It works with any type of decor, whether it's modern or traditional. One important note: Always check for insects!"

—Lauren Scurlock, North Star Real Estate Inc., Virginia Beach, Va.


Bring Your Own Bed

"I have a great way to add a bed to a vacant bedroom. I arrange moving boxes into the shape of a bed, and then I dress it up with nice bedding. It takes about half an hour and it's really inexpensive."

—Kria Lacher, Meadows Group Inc., Realtors, Portland, Ore.

Make a Bed

Another trick to add a bed: "Purchase an inexpensive air mattress that has a folding frame off the floor.  Once the bedding is on and staged, it's hard to tell the air mattress from a real bed. After the home sells, all the client has to do is deflate, fold and pack." 

 —Jackie Limsky, ABR®, TX Cyber Homes, Hank Layton, Texas

Get a Fabric Donation

"Here is an inexpensive staging tip: Ask a local fabric shop to donate beautiful fabrics. Use it to cover the following: an air mattress with a not-so-great comforter (cover the comforter with an over-sized sheet, and then place a nice fabric in the middle or end of the bed). Or use the fabric to cover TV dinner stands, to appear as nightstands, entryway pieces, or any other decorated 'table.'"

—Jannel Lee Allen, Keller Williams Realty, Livonia, Mich.

Add Luxurious, Affordable Touches

"If the master bedroom is too boring (and most are), I have my sellers go out and buy a new luxury comforter set with bed skirt, throw pillows, matching valances, etc. We have a Burlington Coat Factory here that sells dramatic sets with rich, embellished material for around $100. The right set will totally transform a boring master bedroom into a luxury hotel suite."

—Karen Walton, Share Realty, Midlothian, Va.

Try a Dramatic Fabric Backdrop

"One surefire way to dress up a plain bedroom is to hang sheers, fabric or draperies on the wall behind the bed. (I often remove window treatments from the other windows to allow more light in and then use these for the fabric backdrop.) It serves as a headboard, visually raising the ceilings and, particularly in a master suite, adds a sense of elegance and luxury. It's inexpensive but packs a dramatic punch."

—Liz Harrison, Spruce it Up! Home Staging and Room Redesign, Salem, Ore.


Add Bathroom Elegance

"Get some decorative hand towels, tie a sheer ribbon around them, and place them on towel racks in all of the bathrooms. This does wonders to dress up the bathrooms of your listings. I also put some dried flowers and candles in complementary colors to add a little more pizzazz."

—Haley Hwang, e-pro, Coldwell Banker, Glenview, Ill.

Put a Lid on It

"The best thing you can do for your home, vacant or not, is to close all the drains, sinks, and tubs; close all the lids on all the toilets; close all the closet doors; and let all the sun in. You'll get amazing immediate results and the cost is zero dollars."

—Judith Preston, HomeSmart International, Anthem, Ariz.

Make the Old New Again

"I recently listed a big house built in 1979. In the master bathroom was a sunken cultured marble bathtub and matching his and hers marble vanity tops in swirly 1970's brown. The shower stall tile was gold and white speckled. The cost to update this bathroom would be a lot. So we got the tub and shower stall painted with epoxy paint in white and the marble tops a white with little tan specks. It was a huge improvement for about $800." 

—Linda Walker, Main Street Real Estate, Garland, Texas


Go Neutral

"The moment the potential buyer walks into the front door they should be 'wowed' by the rooms on either side of the entry. Paint a nice neutral khaki color allowing for the painted or stained wood work to stand out.  Make the color bold enough to make a difference, not just an off white.  Tans and khaki’s 'warm' the space."

—Julie C. Preston, GRI, REALTOR®/interior designer, Indianapolis, Ind.

Add a Splash of Color Everywhere

"Currently over half the homes we list are vacant and can look very sterile in photos. We ask sellers to neutralize their wall colors and carpet, but then we discover all the photos of the interior look similar and boring. Our best staging tip is to add bright, bold colors to the kitchen and bathrooms with accessories, towels, and plants. Red is a call-to-action color. A vase with red flowers can add interest to the photo when placed on a kitchen island or bar. We like burgundy or black towels in a neutral bathroom and green silk plants in the living areas. A colorful picture over the fireplace mantle with a couple of vases on each side can make a great vignette in the family room."

—Holly Janney, Realty Executives Associates, Knoxville, Tenn.

Light It Up

"Replace the light bulbs in the home with higher wattage bulbs. Buyers like 'light and bright,' and the brighter light bulbs make all the difference in the world. Inexpensive and easy!"

—Ann Bishop, Ann & Denny Bishop Group, Realtors, Wichita Falls, Texas


Tease Their Noses

"I believe in appealing to all five senses of a buyer, including smell. I always put something in the oven like apple pie or fresh bread."

—Chad C. Caramanna, Shadetree Realty Group Inc., Fellsmere, Fla.


"Adding decorative items in the kitchen can warm up the area and make it more 'cozy'.  Go to a thrift or resale shop and get great deals on glass items.  Use a tray (wood, silver, glass, etc.) with two coffee cups and a small package of Starbucks coffee displayed between the cups, and pretty paper or cloth napkins. Also, find a large glass—or pottery bowl—and fill it with individual candies, pre-packaged crackers, pretzels, etc. It looks nice and each buyer who comes through can grab a snack from the bowl. It'll help them remember your listing."

—Trina Griffith, Summers Real Estate Group, Longview, Texas

Go Green

"If your listing has some green features (EnergyStar appliances, generator, double-paned windows, bamboo flooring), continue the theme with strategically placed soy candles, homemade guest soaps, and green cleaning products under the sink area. People will notice!"

 —Peggy Edwards, green, Coldwell Banker, Tampa, Fla.


Expand the Closet

"One of the most overlooked areas of staging is the closet. Most people will unclutter and move boxes out of the closet but forget about the hanging clothes. I tell my clients to remove the clothes they only wear once in a while. If the closet still looks stuffed, remove more. The ideal closet will have significant space (two hangers worth) between the next hanger."

—Joseph F. San Angelo, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, Clifton, N.J.

Offer Before and After Photos

"Have owners pack everything they don't use daily and put in storage or in the garage. It neutralizes the home and allows buyers to picture their family living there. It creates a sense of cleanliness and order by having clean countertops, sparsely decorated walls and minimal furniture. I give sellers before and after photos of other staged homes and remind them that this is how model homes sell."

—Amy Herring, Keller Williams, Tallahassee, Fla.

Create a Neutral Pallet

"When I first meet with potential clients planning to put their house on the market, I walk through the home with them and make a detailed list of all furniture, clothing, and miscellaneous items that should be packed away.  Staging a home requires that each space be defined, but that personal items and clutter be non-existent.  Potential buyers need to see a neutral pallet: Rooms that they can envision themselves living. I then pay for the delivery and removal of a Smartbox portable storage unit as part of my marketing strategy."

—Carrie Mock, Long and Foster Real Estate, Annapolis, Md.

Nix Those Personal Photos

"Make sure there are no personal photos to be seen anywhere in your listing. Pack them up or put them away. Buyers tend to stop and see who lives there, which takes them away from seeing the home's attributes!"

—Kyle Davis, RE/MAX Select Properties Inc., Ashburn, Va.

Don't Let Furniture Get in the Way

"I think one of my top staging tips is to arrange the furniture so that it does not block any of the home's features and allows for easy traffic flow. Sometimes that means removing some furniture—the more furniture in a room, the smaller the room looks."

—Jean Risha, Greenwood King Properties, Houston, Texas


Say 'Welcome Home'

"There's nothing more pleasing than a front step or porch with bright and cheerful planters filled with plants and flowers. It says 'welcome to your new home!'"

—Carol Anderson, ABR, GREEN, Coastline Realty, Cape May, N.J.

Create a Curb Appeal Checklist

"A top item on the staging list should be curb appeal items (you can't get people in if they don't like the drive-by): Trim shrubs, fix peeling paint, and add greens or planters near the entrance."

—Lori Geraci, Bannon & Hebert Properties LLC, Middlebury, Conn.

Entice Them at the Entrance

"Tighten any loose doors or cabinets and re-stain, paint, or varnish doors. Paint the trim on floors and ceilings. Also, paint outside trims and nicks on the house, especially where clients come into the house."

—Rhonda Burns, Windermere Real Estate, Wentachee, Wash.

Stage the Lawn

"In San Antonio the grass is usually parched by the end of the summer. For my fall listings, I purchase a bag of winter rye grass seed and apply it generously to dried-out lawns of my listings. I advice sellers to water the grass frequently for a few weeks until it begins to sprout. Soon the lawn is emerald green, and it stays that way through the end of April, at which time the regular grass should be recovering."

—Larry Stewart, Deborah Myers Real Estate Inc., San Antonio, Texas


Create a DVD of the Home

"Have the sellers make a short DVD of fun times that they had in the home and surrounding area. Make the DVD run on a loop on the TV and use it to show potential buyers the area, neighborhood amenities, proximity to parks museums, etc. It is easy and cost effective."

--Scott Holland,, Phoenix

Frame a Local Scene

"Frame pictures from inexpensive calendars and place them throughout the home. Look for pictures that reflect nature and themes for the local area. We don't want buyers to wish they were in Aruba while looking at a home in snowy Michigan!"

—Jannel Lee Allen, Keller Williams Realty, Livonia, Mich.

Showcase Designer Bags

"I stagger colorful, logo, designer, retail bags in different sizes and shapes and place them on the shelves in the walk-in closets in the master bedroom, linen closet as well as other closets. It creates a fun visual and people think it is unique and clever. Plus, it is basically free. You just tell the stores that you are staging your seller’s home and would love to advertise their company with their bags. They love the idea of getting free publicity.  I put crumpled up tissue in the bag to give them body. I use bags from Neiman Marcus, Coldwater Creek, Chico’s, Crate & Barrel, Pier 1, St. John, Coach, Victoria Secret, and Nordstrom. Also, since the bags can lie flat, the storage factor is very efficient."

—Robyn Starr Dezendorf, Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere, Portland, Ore.

Customize the Art

"Buy a couple of iron easels and place them in different rooms. On the easel, place a mirror or framed art that complements the colors of the walls or floors. Or, prepare a large poster with photos and additional information about the house. This is inexpensive, yet provides a focal point of interest in the room."

—Trina Griffith, Summers Real Estate Group, Longview, Texas

 Redo the Doghouse

"Freshen and consolidate pet areas. Purchase new bowls, etc., to indicate upkeep and freshness. Choose one place to house pet beds and litter boxes; the laundry or utility rooms or garage space may be appropriate."

—Mae Thompson, Prudential One Realty Centre, Edwardsville, Ill.

Have Sellers Write a Letter

"Part of staging is conveying the pleasures of living in the marketed home. I have sellers write a one-page letter to the prospective buyers detailing less evident benefits, such as the annual Easter egg hunt at the end of the cul-de-sac, the amazing sunrise from the breakfast nook window, and the fact that the school bus stops at the corner. I copy these on pretty paper and put them at the front of the property profile book on the kitchen counter."

—Cari Pemberton, Buy, Sell, Organize & Stage, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Make It Memorable

"I have two things that I do when staging a home. First, a wreath on the front door (that I make). The wreath stays with the house for the new owners. Second, I hang a black nightgown on the master bathroom door. The buyer (husband) always remembers that house!"

—Cissy Snyder, Svetlik Real Estate, Sumter, S.C.

Are Young Adults Missing Out on Big Housing Opportunities?

by Jim and Caroline Davis

Are Young Adults Missing Out on Big Housing Opportunities?

With low mortgage rates and fallen home values, some housing analysts are questioning why more first-time buyers—particularly the younger generation—aren’t flooding to the market. As a recent Reuters article questions: Could they be missing out on the “sweet spot” of the housing market by delaying their home purchases?

The desire to buy is certainly there. Ninety-three percent of renters in the millennial generation say they plan to buy a home in the future, according to a poll by Trulia. But the number of first-time home buyers remains constrained: One in three home buyers are first-timers, the article notes.  

“Maybe that's because some millennials—generally those now in their 20s to early 30s—don't have the jobs that qualify them for mortgages, or because they are taking time to accumulate down payments, or because the ongoing wave of foreclosures has frightened them,” writes Linda Stern, a Reuters columnist. 

Whatever the case, they may still have some time to cash in, particularly as long as financing a home purchase remains so low. The Fed announced it is keeping interest rates low until the unemployment rate drops below 6.5 percent, which the Fed doesn’t expect to happen until 2015. 

Real estate professionals may be able to help the younger generation work toward their goal of home ownership in the meantime too. 

For example, as the Reuters article points out, those looking to buy soon should take several steps to home ownership, such as working to improve and protect their credit score. “If your score is anything less than 740, find out how you can raise it — paying down a credit card balance, putting more time between you and your last late fee,” Stern writes. The article also notes, a free site that allows you to monitor your credit score until it’s more attractive to a lender. 

Young adults who are aspiring for home ownership also should start tightening up their wallets and saving for a down payment and closing costs. Also, they should learn about mortgages available from the Federal Housing Administration, which offers loan products with low down payments that are popular among first-time home buyers. 

Source: “Are First-time Homebuyers Missing the Sweet Spot?” Reuters (Dec. 19, 2012)


New Recipe for the New Year!

by Jim and Caroline Davis

Monkey Bread with Caramel from Pillsbury


You won't believe how five simple ingredients can combine to make a heavenly breakfast pull-apart!



¾ cup granulated sugar


2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


4 cans (7.5 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated biscuits


½ cup butter or margarine, melted


3/4 cup packed brown sugar

  1. Grease or spray 12-cup Bundt® cake pan.
  2. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon bag. Separate dough into 10 biscuits; cut each in quarters. Shake quarters in bag to coat; place in pan. Mix butter and brown sugar; pour over biscuit pieces.
  3. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Turn upside down; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
  4. Makes 12 servings

Makes 12 servings

Make the Most of This Recipe With Tips From The Pillsbury® Kitchens

Substitute 2 (9x5-inch) loaf pans for the Bundt® pan. Divide the biscuits and butter mixture evenly between the loaf pans. Decrease bake time to 35 to 40 minutes.


Residential Real Estate Expected to Be Strong Through 2014

by Jim and Caroline Davis

Residential Real Estate Expected to Be Strong Through 2014

New home sales, existing home sales, and new construction have all made noteworthy gains during 2012. Just as importantly, prices have steadily been increasing in almost every market. All indications are that the residential market will sustain growth at least through 2014 if no major economic downfalls force it off track. Inflation and any further tightening of the finance market are two data points to watch in the coming months.

With rents rising and housing inventories shrinking, home values should see a total increase of six percent for all of 2012. Over the next three years, the outlook for home prices is to appreciate by a total of 15 percent.

Now is the time to understand what is happening in your local market. Nationally, the move is away from REO but into short sales in the foreclosure market. The foreclosure and short sale markets should remain strong going into 2013. This market will begin drying up in the middle of next year.
With existing home sales steadily increasing you need to learn what price point is the most active and which neighborhoods are seeing the most sales at your local level. Nationally there is a trend for homeowners to move into larger, better appointed, houses before prices increase and while interest rates remain extremely low.

Many markets are also seeing more investor activity as investors recognize that the bottom of the market is well behind us.

There are key data points that you want to track. These would be the number of houses sold per month or even by week. Group these by selling price and also look at the pending sales in the same price range. When you find a large group of houses selling in a narrow price range, you have identified the most active market segment. You should be seeing the number of days these houses are on the market declining. This is were you want to be investing in your local market.


Rules for Tasteful Holiday Decor

by Jim and Caroline Davis

Rules for Tasteful Holiday Décor

Sellers don't have to forgo all holiday trimmings just because their home is on the market. But they should decorate in a way that won't turn off buyers.

There's no doubt the holidays are near: Malls filled with poinsettias, festive music filling elevators, catalogs flooding mailboxes, and home design magazines packed with ways to make the season bright.

Many sellers want to pull out the stops and decorate according to family traditions, but houses that are on the market shouldn’t be overly personalized or cluttered at any time. Your job as a real-estate practitioner is to help sellers strike a balance between enjoying their traditions yet showing restraint. Explain that too much “stuff” camouflages what’s most important when decorations come down: a home’s architectural details, its condition, location, and price. 

“Your goal is to help sellers show off their houses, but not their holiday decorations,” says Julie Dana, a home staging professional and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell (Alpha, 2007). If you succeed, you’ll get them to convince buyers, “I wish this were my home for the holidays,” says Bruce Johnson, president of Lee Kimball, a design/build firm in Winchester, Mass.

Amid all of the challenges of listing a home during the holidays, there is one big plus: Most buyers who are actively looking at this time of year are serious. The following tips will help sellers achieve the right decorating balance:

Add tasteful, generic decorations.

“Tasteful decorations can be an asset to a sale,” says David Iannuccilli, CRS, GRI, and co-broker/owner of RE/MAX Professionals in East Greenwich, R.I. But since taste is subjective, we asked Iannuccilli and other pros to define what good holiday taste looks like—and doesn’t. Most define it as “elegant,” “simple,” and “quiet.” Iannuccilli specifies a minimalist approach--one wreath, one tree, one dining table centerpiece. Dana recommends a tall narrow tree to emphasize a room’s height and conserve floor space. In the don’t-do list, Dana cites no “cute” wreaths with gingerbread men or oversized inflatable snowmen on front yards. She also suggests steering clear of personalized objects such as monogrammed stockings. “When decorations get too personal, people have a hard time picturing themselves in the home,” she says. Pat Heydlauff, a feng shui expert in Palm Beach County, Fla., recommends no or few religious symbols, whether crèches or menorahs.

Trade nonseasonal for seasonal decorations.

To avoid clutter, remove a nonholiday accessory for each seasonal accessory added, says Dana.

Don’t imitate Scrooge.

Even if decorating seems a Herculean task, tell sellers not to avoid all decorations. “People expect some, and they add warmth,” says Dana.

Think green…and metallic, and white.

Too much red and green can backfire. Practitioners suggest a neutral palette of fresh greens, elegant silvers and golds, and classic whites. Karen Fornash, a real estate guru in New York, favors vases of white roses, lilies, and freesia, complemented by evergreens. Christi Page, owner of Top Drawer Hardware in Santa Monica, Ca., suggests replacing a few knobs in a bathroom or kitchen with ones that add a touch of seasonal color.

Remember the joy of entertaining.

Because home entertaining connotes happy homeownership, builder David Cohen of Hampden Design & Construction in Newton, Mass., suggests staging a kitchen as if the owners were going to throw a cozy holiday party. “People don’t want things to look stark at the holidays,” he says.   

Be mindful of valuable gifts.

Keep most holiday presents and family heirlooms out of sight to avoid distracting buyers, says Gregg Goldsholl, a practitioner with Weichert Realtors in Larchmont, N.Y. Doing so also is a smart precaution for open houses. “Not all people who tour a home are trustworthy,” Dana says. 

Keep up decorations for a limited time.

While most homeowners love prolonging the holiday spirit, experts suggest curtailing it when the house is on the market. Dave Sears, co-founder of OptHome, a homeownership resource Web site in Winchester, Mass., advises a maximum of two weeks before and two after Christmas.

Add warmth and energy.

Nothing says holidays more than twinkling lights and crackling fires, but make smart choices. Lights, which also help illuminate a home’s exterior in the dark—particularly important in winter when many showings take place—shouldn’t be left on all the time. Advise sellers to select efficient LED bulbs and use them with motion detectors or timers, says Rozanne Weissman, senior director of consumer campaigns with the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy in Washington, D.C. To get a fire going quickly and make clean-up easier, consider manufactured logs, says Mendy Aul, with Pine Mountain in Daleville, Ind.

Minimize smells.

Holiday aromas—baked goods and live greens—enhance seasonal decor, but overly strong odors from air fresheners and candles may send buyers running, says Deanne Kory, senior vice president with The Corcoran Group in New York. Heydlauff tells sellers to leave out a plate of cookies, which buyers will associate with the spirit of giving.

Play soothing music.

Most people get their fill of jingles and carols, so suggest nonseasonal favorites that appeal year-round, says Sears.

Use timely marketing materials.

Everyone wants to lower expenses, but it’s critical not to cut corners when you're taking photos for listing materials. The wrong images—a living room with a tree in summer—signal that a house has been on the market too long, says Dana.

Remember winter’s threat.

If sellers live in a cold climate, remind them to shovel walks rather than have snow and ice become part of the décor.

And when sellers seem in doubt, remind them that less is always best. Happy Holidays!


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Contact Information

Jim, Caroline, & The Davis Team
New South, Realtors
1874 Slaughter Rd. Suite C
Madison AL 35758
Jim: 256-651-8500 / 256-325-8500
Caroline: 256-653-8289 / 256-325-8500
Fax: 256-325 8504