Rick BissonThe holiday season is upon us. Festive decorations, music and holiday parties are in full swing. It’s also the holiday shopping season. Many shoppers are out with their lists enjoying the gratification of finding the perfect gift for family and friends. For some shoppers, that list may include purchasing a home.

To attract buyers looking to find that perfect home for a holiday gift, it’s important for sellers to keep their homes on the market and well-advertised. The age-old trend was for sellers to take their homes off the market during the holiday season. However, there are some good reasons to keep that for sale sign in the yard. Two primary reasons are the serious nature of buyers who are looking to make a purchase during the holidays and the decrease in available homes for sale.

In today’s world of 24-7 online engagement, buyers are always plugged into real estate. From desktops, laptops, tablets to smart phones, serious buyers are engaged in the hunt to find their ideal home. They are especially engaged when they have downtime, like the time they’ll have during the holidays.

Because many sellers will take their homes off the market before the holidays, the inventory of available homes will tighten. This shrinking pool of homes equates to less competition for sellers when motivated buyers are hungry for more homes to see.

One of the best ways to attract and encourage the sale of a home during this time of year is to stage it properly. Staging a home for sale is important whatever the season; however, there are some special rules to consider during the holidays.

Decorating for the holidays is a good idea, just remember that the same basic “off season” staging principles apply … keep the clutter in check. Holiday decorating should be simple and elegant. Living in a house while it is on the market has its challenges. Having a home on the market during the holidays adds a few more. Here are a few tips.

Curb appeal is key. Home staging is always about quality over quantity. This is especially true outside. Yard decorations, outdoor house lights, and holiday collections may be distracting and should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely.

Welcome buyers into the home by creating classy front door appeal with a simple holiday door mat and a live wreath. The entrance into a home sets the tone. Let the buyers know this is just the beginning of a house they will love.

Before decorating inside, make sure the house is thoroughly clean and depersonalized.

Wherever holiday decorations are added, keep it simple so potential home buyers can envision themselves living in the house with their own holiday adornments. Don’t go overboard with holiday decorations in each room. A few subtle holiday touches are best; one holiday tree, with simple white lights and a cohesive theme of standard ornaments. Bright lights and contrasting decorations can distract home buyers.

Fresh displays of poinsettias, holly and other holiday greenery can be a nice touch in the kitchen or dining room. Go for one big, display versus lots of little arrangements.

The mantle should be uncluttered – no stockings. Here again, the idea is to let the buyers visualize decorating the mantle themselves. If having stockings hung by the fire with care is a family must, hang the stockings and remove them for showings.

Create a holiday aroma. Freshly baked cookies on the counter are a welcome touch to make the house smell fabulous and are a great way to win over buyers. A pot of cider simmering on the stove is another enticing way to create a warm and festive feeling and increase the chances of buyers spending more time in the house.

Remember, selling your home over the holidays isn’t that much different than any other time of the year. By using these simple tips to help you stage your home, it will stand out from your competition and help you win the home selling game over the holiday season.

If you, or someone you know, is considering selling their house during the holiday season be sure to talk with your trusted, expert Realtor. Their experience and expertise will guide you through the selling process and help you stage the house appropriately so it will sell at the best price in the shortest amount of time.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.