The Creepiest Home Tours Ever

October 31, 2014

When you work in real estate, you don't come across haunted houses only on Halloween. When touring properties for sale any time of the year, practitioners and their clients never know what they'll scare up. Foreclosures in particular, some pros say, often account for the oddest showings, but other types of homes lend some surprises, too.

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted some of the creepiest retellings of showings by real estate professionals. Here are a few.

House of the Dead

Phil Faranda, a broker with J. Philip Real Estate in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., recalls stepping into a home that contained floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and numerous vases. Then, on the second floor, he spotted a sign that read: "World's Greatest Mortician."

"Either it was the craziest coincidence that the owner liked to collect vases and was a mortician, or we were in a mausoleum," Faranda told the Journal.

Animal House

The last thing Tonya Nelson expected in a new townhome was a reptile-infested basement, says the Redfin agent based in Arlington and Alexandria, Va. But when she and her buyers walked into the basement, they saw bright fluorescent lights with 10 large reptile aquariums filled with frogs, snakes, and alligators.

Odd Stares

Jordan Clarke felt like there were people in every corner of the house watching him. That might have even been less creepy than the fact that those "people" were mannequins staring blankly at him from every angle. The house obviously belonged to a seamstress, says Clarke, a Redfin agent in San Diego. But it was startling nevertheless to see mannequins lurking in every corner of the home.

"You walk in and get that sense that something is staring at you," he said. "This has probably happened a half-dozen times now. I had one client scream briefly."

Foreclosed Nightmare

Colette Barnett, an Atlanta-based Redfin agent, may have an expanded definition of "dilapidated" after seeing one foreclosed home. A porch was upheld by cinder blocks with caution tape around it; the stairs were crooked; a garden window was caved in; tiles were falling off the shower; and a huge patch of black mold outlined the basement wall.

Avoid Your Listing Becoming Creepy

There are things you can do to keep your listing from scaring buyers. Here are some tips from real estate pros and stagers:

  • Watch for smells: Air out the house regularly by keeping the doors and windows open for a short amount of time.
  • Board pets: Keep pets — including any reptiles — at another place during showings and open houses.
  • Be ready to discount: If most buyers see your house as scary, you may need to be prepared to cut them a good deal.

Source: “These Real-Estate Agents Walked into Real-Life Houses of Horror,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 30, 2014)