U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports Christ- mas trees alone cause 300 fires annually and lead to 30 injuries, 10 deaths, and about $19 million in property damages each year. “If you are going to have a real tree, be sure you choose one with fresh needles, regularly water it, and dispose of the tree when it gets dry,” recommended loss prevention specialist BreAnn Stephenson, assistant vice president at Affinity Loss Prevention Services (ALPS). Everyone is familiar with the bright green leaves and bril- liant red flowers of the poinsettia, just as they are also prob- ably familiar with the idea that the holiday plant is deadly if eaten. In reality, said Marc Lallanilla with Live Science, “A child who weighs 50 pounds would have to eat more than 500 poinsettia leaves to reach a potentially dangerous dose.” The sap can cause a rash in people with latex allergies, though. Since many people believe this myth, the best route if you want to stage with poinsettias is simply to keep them out of reach of small children. Problem solved! buyers at home.” While the Christmas and New Year’s holidays certainly are busy traffic times of year, Memorial Day weekend is actually the worst holiday when it comes to fatal car accidents, fol- lowed by the Fourth of July and Labor Day, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Furthermore, this does not usually keep people off the roads! Since many sellers will actually take their homes off the market during the holidays, you might have less competition if you are willing to leave your property listed. However, buyers out to find a house during this season often do expect to find discounted deals, so be prepared to negotiate and don’t be offended by “low-ball” offers. is the best policy.” While some sellers take their homes off the market for the holidays because they think there is no point in listing during the alleged slow season, others do it because they have been told they cannot decorate for the season if they want to sell. I’ve got good tidings: There is no reason to pretend you don’t celebrate the season. Just keep things simple! Maybe get out half of the 150 holiday snow globes to keep the clutter down. Most real estate professionals agree a live wreath with some tasteful string lights on the door is one of the best types of curb appeal out there during the holiday season. Inflatables, however, might best be left in storage because they make the lawn feel small. BOTANICAL FEARMONGERING - MYTH 2: “Poinsettias are deadly.” JAMMED - MYTH 3: “Holiday traffic will keep potential GET LOST, GRINCH - MYTH 4: “Total disregard for the season

NONTRADITIONAL. NOT A BAD WORD - MYTH 5: “Stay safe with red and green.”

If a homeowner does decorate for Christmas, they often stick like glue to the traditional red and green. In reality, this is the perfect time to experiment with nontraditional colors and pick the ones that complement your home’s current color scheme. This can also help po- tential buyers celebrating other holidays envision themselves in your home this season. Not only will you look chic and stylish, but you also will be able to select items that accentuate your home’s positive char- acteristics, such as placing a tall, slim tree to highlight high ceilings. GO AHEAD, BE MERRY. Now that you know it’s okay to crack out the mistletoe, get to it! The holiday season can be a wonderful time of year to list and sell any property. •

Carole VanSickle Ellis is the editor of Think Realty Magazine. She can be reached at

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these myths, take steps to optimize holiday staging and pro- tect your investments, and stay joyous! You can still get the most “merry and bright” out of your properties this season. INSURANCE FUN - MYTH 1: “Christmas trees aren’t a fire risk if you don’t have real candles.” While putting real candles on a Christmas tree is an incredibly dangerous practice, next to no one does it anymore. Despite this, the

f you’ve been dreading the first strains of “Silver Bells” over the airwaves because you need to get a property sold before the “slow season,” take heart. A lot of the con- ventional wisdom about holiday home-staging is completely false! Whether you were worried you would have to forego the tree this year in order to avoid turning off buyers or you were just dreading the holiday traffic, there are plenty of good tidings for real estate investors this season. Read through I

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