Written by Rebecca GrahamRebecca Graham is BestCompany's expert on home loans and cell phones, empowering readers to make the best financial decisions based on data and research. Rebecca unplugs from consumer culture on occasion to hike with her family.
Halloween is just around the corner. Year after year, you decorate your house with ghoulish glee and proudly wear your badge as the most festive in the neighborhood.
But this year, you’re selling your house. Can you celebrate without turning off potential buyers?
The answer is yes, but there are some things you’ll want to consider.
We teamed up with Laurie Stauffer, Utah Realtor® with Urban Utah Homes & Estates and owner of Golden Hive Real Estate, to bring you four important tips from a buyer agent’s perspective while out in the field looking at homes this time of year.
Stauffer has some valuable tips to share regarding types of decor that work to your advantage, as well as specific decorations to avoid. Her guiding takeaway?
“The most important thing to keep in mind is to not distract prospective buyers from the beauty of your home.”
Tip #1: Prioritize curb appeal
“A porch set-up with curb appeal in focus works great for Halloween or throughout the remainder of fall,” Stauffer advises. “Think pumpkins, branches, or corn stalks.” Flower baskets with mums, pansies, or aster showcase vibrant colors tastefully.
Make sure your entire yard, not just your porch, is ready for a showing. Dispose of fall yard work clutter like bush and tree trimmings along with any rotting pumpkins or remaining garden spoils.
And as much as we all love Casper, this would be a good year to skip the outdoor inflatables.
Tip #2: Keep it simple
Stauffer explains that “it’s fine to be festive, but don’t let your decor be overwhelming.” She even suggests considering a monochromatic color scheme.
One mistake sellers sometimes make is covering surfaces in the interior of the home with holiday trinkets because “it’s tradition.” No matter how cute or clever the decorations, clutter makes rooms feel smaller and usually hides the simple beauty of a clear surface.
“Clutter infamously distracts buyers from being able to really see the home,” Stauffer cautions. “Some buyers just can’t see past it.”
Keep any cliche or potentially-tacky Halloween displays in storage and experiment instead with a pair of colorful gourds on the kitchen table, a bouquet of bright stalks by your walk-in shower, or a simple wreath on your bedroom door.
Tip #3: Opt for spooky instead of gory
For families with kids, nothing screams “run away” like blood-spattered caution tape or a frightening clown figurine. And you obviously don’t want prospective buyers to avoid your house! This year, “go spooky rather than going for gore,” Stauffer suggests.
Pair together elements of classic Halloween like a vintage chandelier, old books, and candlesticks. Even homemade decorations like hanging paper bats can work well in a kids room.
But spook needs to be applied with care. As fun as it is to come home to dancing skeletons and shrieking witch dummies, those items probably don't belong, even when selling a haunted house.
Tip #4: Stand out with subtlety
Finally, as you stage your home for walk-throughs, sprinkle pleasant, sense-appealing signs of the season throughout. After all, a home’s appeal is more than just visual — the overall “vibe” of a home can make or break a buyer’s interest.
Why is subtlety important when selling your home? “Buyers want to see themselves in this home, and not you,” Stauffer explains. “The way to do this is to appeal to the masses and entice as many people to walk through your listed home as possible. Keeping it neutral casts a wider net to the buyer market.”
Stauffer recommends maintaining a subtle festive feel in your home by keeping your seasonal touches limited to a few rooms — a simple centerpiece for your dining table, a grouping of striking candles on the mantle, or a themed pillow tossed on the couch. Meanwhile, keep your everyday decor neutral for any time of the year.
Utilize aroma with essential oils, candles, or wall plug-ins. A hint of cinnamon, orange, sage, or pine can elicit positive feelings towards your home. Just make sure to get the second opinion of your agent to make sure the smell isn’t overpowering!
A small bowl of festive candy with a friendly note to “help yourself” is a personable gesture that gives your home a welcoming feel.
If you’re missing your usual Halloween get-up and wonder if it’s worth the sacrifice to follow our tips, remember that the goal is to impress with your listed home, not your decorating skills.
Stauffer encourages sellers to get the right decor down for this year, then reward yourself by going all out next year in your new home. “We all know you’ll be wanting to throw a big Halloween party in your new house.”