Selling a Haunted House

Buyers tend to remember homes by a significant detail: the house with the great kitchen, the home with the large yard. There’s one label that can stigmatize a sale: The Haunted House.

In my early days of staging, I was also a Realtor. One Fall day, I was taking newlyweds to see homes. We pulled up to a quaint colonial on a quiet tree lined street. My client’s eyes widened. “Oh wow. It’s perfect!” We found a parking spot directly in front of the home. The house appeared to be a gracious host, beckoning us to enter. The wife wrapped her fingers around her husband’s hand as they walked towards the front door. The excitement was promising. After fumbling with the lockbox, I unlocked the door to their future home with a smile. “Here it is.” Their eyes widened. I watched their faces shift to discomfort, as the door opened with a squeal. “Whoa,” the husband exclaimed. Inside, the home was a shrine of religious artifacts. Statues cluttered the house in every direction. They were on floors, tables, inside nooks, and covered the walls -heavily guarding the premises of a loyal follower. My clients stepped in hesitantly. I could nearly hear their hearts racing. “Hello,” the wife called out with a slight quiver to her voice. Something felt unsettling. “We don’t have to continue the tour if you’re uncomfortable,” I said. They looked at each other. I could sense their fear. “It’s ok,” she responded hesitantly, “I really wanted to see this house.”

We continued tentatively into the living room. “Creepy,” the husband whispered as our eyes peered at the old relics staring coldly down on us. They appeared to be watching. Silently waiting. “Did either of you hear something,” the wife asked. “I think it was this statue,” the husband joked pointing at a life-size Saint, “He said GET OUT!” His wife jumped. “Stop. I want to see the house. Don’t scare me.”

We were all on edge. Tiptoeing. I giggled realizing we were creeping through the living room in a single file like Velma, Fred, and Daphne hunting for a ghostly villain. “We’re being silly, aren't we,” the wife questioned with a sigh, “They’re just very religious. We should look past it. It could be a great house.” Her husband whispered, “Sure. If they don’t get to us first.” The wife turned to her husband. She had already mastered THE STARE. “I’m just kidding, Honey,” he reassured. It’s not like all this comes with the house.”

We headed towards the dining room. Her husband now the valiant knight leading the way. BOOM. We jumped. “What is that?” A loud hiss echoed through the house. We quickly scanned all directions. Then turned back to the living room. A large tv, which was off minutes earlier, was now very much on, displaying and hissing a screen of static. We all looked at each other and raced to the front door. My hands fumbled with the keys, tossing them into the lockbox. No faster than I could punch in my key code, my clients, including the valiant knight, were already in the safety of the car. “Cross the Haunted House off the list,” the wife laughed.

While this may not be a typical scenario and though this was certainly not decoration specific to Halloween, it begs the question, how much is too much even when decorating for Halloween? “The house with the body hanging over the balcony” may not be the best reference reminder for buyers. Is there a way to decorate for a spooky holiday that leaves a positive impression?

Creating a cute and festive design for the holiday can create a positive reflection of warmth and family. Here are some suggestions for Halloween decorating when selling a home:


Carved pumpkins can carry a design straight through Thanksgiving. Festive as opposed to creepy, they can be the perfect way to welcome guests to your Halloween holiday home.


Festive Fall Foliage

Nothing says fall like beautiful orange, red, and yellow colors of nature. Mums and festive fall flowers can create a warming glow to front entries. Consider creating layers by stacking planters on hay bales, rustic boxes, or tins.


From Creepy to Cute

There’s no reason to exclude the spooky Halloween decor hiding out in your garage. The kids will have a blast turning the creepy to cute with a few of these clever ideas.

Nikki Lynn/

Sweet and Sophisticated

Monogramed pumpkins can add a classic sophistication to any Halloween design. Simply paint and stencil to personalize pumpkins, tins, and accent pieces.

© Leigh Anne Butler

View the tutorial at The Butlers blog site here

Un-Scary Scarecrow

These scarecrows won’t scare much away and will certainly look adorable in a front lawn.


Festive Fall Wreaths

Fall wreaths can extend throughout the entire season. Their beauty and elegance welcome guests. A wonderful way to remind buyers that this home will host festive family gatherings for years to come.


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