7 strategies for marketing a notorious real estate property


Lisa Caldwell of California, owner of Range Homes, Powered by Avenue 8, once represented a vacant Lafayette property that had undeniably spooky happenings. “The heater constantly turned on by itself,” she said. “In fact, it happened so often that I had the locks changed and put blue tape over the thermostat, convinced someone was coming in and turning up the heat.”

Lisa Caldwell

Without fail, however, each time Caldwell returned, the blue tape was removed and the thermostat was set to 78 degrees. “The story goes that the previous owner was an incredibly thin and frail woman and according to family members she always kept the temperature at 78 degrees,” she said.

In addition to the heat, there were slamming doors and frequent footsteps on the stairs. At one point Caldwell hired a rat reduction professional who went into the crawl space, quickly came out saying he heard voices under the house with him, then left and never came back. .

According to a recent study by real estate data firm Clever, most Americans would much rather live in a haunted house than face spooky scenarios like mold, termites, or foundation problems. In fact, some would even pay a premium for this privilege.

As a real estate agent, what do you do when you find out that something upsetting has happened to a home you are listing? What are your responsibilities and how can you make buyers and sellers feel better about buying a property where something troubling has happened?

Crime-related cults and property

Many agents we contacted suggested major renovations to change the look of a property with a poor reputation. In some cases, even a coat of fresh paint was enough to brighten up the look of a spooky house. Here are some additional things to consider.

1. Know your disclosure requirements

David Reicher

According to David Reischer, Esq., real estate agent, attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com, most state laws do not mandate disclosure of “non-hazardous” defects. This includes the idea that a house is haunted or that a death has occurred from natural causes.

In some states, however, a disclosure is required for a home or apartment where there has been a suicide or murder. Make sure you are familiar with your market’s disclosure requirements regarding the high profile property you are offering.

2. Help buyer customers see the value

Dani Burns

According to Gainesville, Georgia, real estate agent Dani Burns, even a gruesome murder may not be a deal breaker for some buyers. She sold not once, but twice, a luxury home in a prestigious housing estate that was the site of a gruesome murder.

When she represented the buyer at the first sale, she revealed all about the crime, but pointed to the considerable offer offered on the property itself. His goal was to help them weigh the stigma and its potential impact on resale against the value offered by the home itself.

Subsequently, when those first buyers were ready to resell the house, it was contracted in 30 days – also to a buyer who knew all the details.

3. Set the right price and let time do the rest

Dino DiNenna

According to Dino DiNenna of Hilton Head Island, statistically, a notorious home loses about 20% of its normal market value on its first sale. Therefore, the low price – but not too Low — can help retain some of that residual value. It suggests a discount of between 10-15% for a timely sale.

DiNenna once worked with a buyer who was buying a property that was previously owned by a cult family. Subsequently, many rumors had grown around the property within the local community.

DiNenna’s advice was to settle in and change the mood by reaching out and getting to know their new neighbors, letting their positive energy change the perception of the house.

4. Find a way to switch brands

Marina Vaamonde

Commercial real estate investor Marina Vaamonde has taken on a property dubbed “The Drug House” by locals. Located on a beautiful canal, the only good thing about the property was its location.

The Vaamonde team capitalized on the interest of local neighbours, inviting them during the renovation process, taking the time to get to know them, and then ultimately collecting their suggestions for renaming the house. Positive word of mouth and a rebranding as “River Home” saw the property sell out within a week.

haunted houses

It seems like every neighborhood has its own version of a haunted house. If you find yourself listing one — or guiding buyers through one — consider the following:

5. Find your target market

Ron Wysocarski

Port Orange, Florida broker Ron Wysocarski faced chilling rumors surrounding one of his listings by contacting a Facebook group made up of people interested in haunted houses and the paranormal. This sparked interest and he ended up selling the house to one of the band members.

6. Do your research

Vancouver’s Jordan Scarpino was showing a home to a potential buyer with the buyer’s son. The son went to the bathroom and came back claiming to have seen a man with a rope around his neck.

Jordan Scarpino

Scarpino checked the bathroom, found nothing there, and escorted the family out of the house. The next day, Scarpino was researching the property further and discovered that a suicide had occurred in the house, which he later revealed.

Even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, watch out for scary stories and rumors surrounding a supposedly haunted house. It could be the sequence of real events that you need to let your customers know about.

7. Do what it takes to make customers feel comfortable

Broker Kris Lippi used customer experience to create a brand new service for his listings. He worked with a salesman who was convinced his property was haunted and wanted it disclosed as such. However, she was concerned about the effect this would have on the sale of the property.

Kris Lippi

Ultimately, the client decided to hire an exorcist, leading Lippi to offer in-home exorcism service as a resource for clients. The service is published on the Lippi website with a contact form.

The initial consultation with the exorcist is free, while charges apply for the exorcist’s travel or for additional consultations. According to Lippi, the service helps put buyers and sellers at ease and makes it easier to sell properties if they have questions or concerns.

Lippi’s advice to agents is “not to dismiss their clients when they say they think they need an exorcist.” Respect your customer’s beliefs and help them find what they need. “The selling process will be much easier if you and the sellers are on the same page when it comes to everything relating to the property in question.”

Christy Murdock is a real estate agent, freelance writer, coach and consultant and owner of Real Estate Writing. She is also the creator of the online course Building the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Property Writers. Follow Real Estate Writing on Twitter, instagram and Youtube.

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