How to Decorate Your House for Halloween if You’re Selling

This is a guest contribution from Brooke Niemeyer who is the Partnerships Manager at PolicyGenius.

Autumn means crunchy leaves, ghosts, gourds and pumpkin spice everything. And, for many, it’s also time to dig out the Halloween decorations to get the house looking its creepiest.

Fun and festive, sure. But probably not ideal if your home is on the market. After all, you want potential buyers to feel like they’re visiting their new home, not a haunted house they’ll run screaming from.

That doesn’t mean you have to refrain from putting out any holiday decor — just follow these tips from real estate professionals to help you decorate without scaring off someone looking to buy a home.

1. Stick to Decorating the Outdoors

“Too much ghoulish distraction indoors will make the buyers feel as if they are touring a haunted home rather than a home for sale,” David Meek, a real estate broker with Keller Williams Arizona Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona, said.

…But don’t go overboard.

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Whatever you put outside, make sure it isn’t too scary, as you want your home to look appealing, not frightening.

“I would focus on making it more seasonal-based by sticking to lots of pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds, etc.,” said Kevin Lawton, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Schiavone & Associates in Bordentown, New Jersey. “You don’t want the decorations to detract from features of the house.”

And if you go with pumpkins, Jeanine M. Boiko, a real estate agent for Exit Realty in New York, recommends going faux, as these don’t “rot or give off an odor — or invite critters to lunch.”

Bonus tip when thinking about outdoor Halloween decorations: “Avoid being the guy on the block with the inflatable yard decor [because] it will eclipse your yard sign,” Meek said.

2. Inside Isn’t Entirely Off Limits.

You won’t want to decorate heavily indoors, but “candles and soaps in Halloween-inspired scents and colors are welcome additions to the kitchen and bathroom,” according to Boiko.

“The soaps can be neatly tucked into a small basket that you can leave on a counter,” Boiko added. “Candles also fit nicely on mantels, shelves and countertops — unless your countertops are small. If they are small, avoid putting too much on them, as you want to create the illusion of more space, not less.”

Boiko also suggests adding Halloween pillows to couches or beds or even “simply adding candy corn to a clear vase or dish” which you can place on a shelf or table.

3. Keep Safety In Mind

If you’re putting pumpkins or other decorations outside, Boiko advises to “avoid lining your outside steps with them … as you want to keep potential buyers safe when coming and going. If you have a porch, put them off to the side where no one can accidentally trip on them, or set them up on either side of your steps on your lawn.”

Note: It never hurts to check up on your homeowners insurance policy when you’re selling your home. Your insurance agent can tell you what sort of coverage you have in case someone gets hurt on your property so you are aware if the worst happens.

4. Get Those Snapshots Before Decorating

Hopefully your home gets taken off the market quickly, but just in case, it’s good to have timeless photos of your home. After all, “you don’t want to be on the market in January with halloween decor in your photos,” Meek said.

5. Don’t Forget to Clean Up

Once Halloween has come and gone, take down decorations that were holiday-specific. And if you went with real pumpkins instead of fake ones, ditch those as well. After all, as Boiko pointed out, you don’t want them to smell or attract unwanted critters.

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