Real Estate TipsSelling December 16, 2012

Ditch the Creepy Stuff When Selling Your Home

True story: about 2 years ago, while looking at homes in Lower Westchester, my clients and I entered a place that must have had a collection of 200 vases on the shelves of the living room. While over the top, we considered it benign until we walked into the home office upstairs and a coffee mug that said the following:

“World’s Greatest Mortician”


That home was not purchased by my clients. Much like the house that had 20 deer heads being sold by the avid hunter, the distraction was too much. Was the home really filled with the ashes of non-paying customers? I rather doubt it. But was the damage done? You bet it was.

I’ll add another one for the books that occurred today: While looking at a turn of the 20th century home, we noticed a number of hand crafted, creepy masks and dolls that made my clients start immediately referring to the place as “the voodoo house.” Yes, buyers label homes with the most memorable characteristic: the artsy house, the pool house, the patio house, the spaceship house, and yes, less positive descriptors.

The “voodoo house” had another fun trait, which was that some of the rooms, and the cellar, had no obvious or easy way to find a light switch. In the cellar, we saw in the dim lights of our cell phones a workshop with what appeared to be an assortment of teeth where they made these creepy dolls. Not far toward the back at the edge of the crawlspace were two masks that looked like props in a Vincent Price movie. I am sure those weren’t really teeth and that it was all innocent, but nothing about the place said “home” to my clients, who wrote the place off immediately.

This is not so much about staging as it is about common sense. People want to switch on a light. People notice it when a shrunken head is staring at them in every room they enter. You don’t have to hire a renowned home stager (although it will sure help), but at least dispense with the creepy stuff and mark where the lights switches are. Better yet, leave some lights on; it is worth the extra few dollars on the utility bill. If these folks were my client I’d have them put all the dolls and masks in a box marked for their next house.

Dark and creepy don’t mix, and they certainly don’t help sell the house.