How do you stage a “haunted” house?
Our wonderful host at WSOS Radio, Kevin Geddings, posed a chilling question to us on the Halloween radio show episode. When you’re working with a house that’s seen tragedy—especially a death or murder—do you address the home’s dark history? How do you stage it?
We here at Rave have, fortunately, never had to deal with this situation. But bad things happen, and maybe you’re wondering how you would deal with this situation as a stager, realtor, or seller.
Don’t turn it into an attraction
Legally, yes, you need to disclose that there’s been a murder in many states. BUT you definitely don’t need or want to dwell on it.
Murder is a great theme for a Halloween haunted house. But for staging first-class real estate? Not so much.
A flipper would probably be most likely to buy a house like this because they could replace everything. You don’t want people walking in and wondering, “Is this where it happened?” Obviously, as stagers we can’t do remodeling, but you’d want to try to make the furniture layout and feel of the home as different as possible from what it was during the tragedy.
What if the house is actually haunted? If you honestly believe there’s paranormal activity, you might have to disclose that too. In some states, that includes exorcisms. Which could be a plus to an American Horror Story superfan, but still…you’d probably be better off using sage to ward off evil spirits.
And as always, don’t make “rookie” mistakes
Make sure you start the process with a buyer-first strategy. While you don’t want to clutter the home, most stagers make the mistake of leaving it too sparse, so don’t be afraid to fill up the space you have. At the end of the day, you want a buyer to leave thinking about the home, not the furniture.
You also want to make sure the staging isn’t TOO personal. This is especially true for occupied stages. Just like you don’t want the buyer wondering where a tragedy happened in the home, you don’t want them looking at personal photos and knick-knacks and wondering about who lived in the home. You want them to see themselves in the home, not the former owners. And, hopefully, no ghosts.