Selling a house can at times be a horrifying and stressful experience — but it can be even more nerve-racking if your home is unusual or different.
However, an ad for an historic Adelaide home has gained international attention for its unearthly features.
The mansion at Magill in Adelaide’s leafy eastern suburbs looks like a typical 19th-century colonial home, but there are terrors lurking within.
Marketing images of the home on real estate websites show ghoulish dummies in the cellar, and unnerving ornaments scattered throughout its many rooms.
The house has been compared to a horror movie set, with some suggesting similarities with the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Psycho.
“It’s not for the faint-hearted but wow, what a property,” an online listing states.
“History, excitement. Challenge your senses. If you are a scaredy-cat, don’t come.”
From the outside, the historic mansion looks like a typical colonial-era property. (Toop & Toop)
Seller Brad Pannell explained that the unusual decor was the result of his unusual upbringing, and slightly eccentric family.
“Mother was very inventive. She [loved] arts and craft … and she loved putting on birthday parties. She’d have a themed birthday party every year for us four kids,” he said.
“She liked the spooky ones, she liked scaring us kids.
“It was always interesting, there were always things moving around. She had fishing wire to make a little bat drop down from the ceiling, that sort of thing.”
Mr Pannell said he decided to make the home’s quirks part of the sale strategy after consulting the agent.
The approach appears to have worked so far, with the property gaining attention as far afield as the US and the UK after going viral on social media.
“The Australian nightmare house is perfect. When can my cult move in?” one Twitter user wrote.
An excuse to get creative
The Magill mansion is not the only home to have gained interest in recent times after being promoted in an unusual way, and talking up the quirks of a home is a growing trend among real estate agents.
Antonia Mercorella is a property expert and CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland. (Supplied)
“We are seeing real estate professionals having a lot more fun with their marketing … looking for ways to get more attention,” CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland Antonia Mercorella said.
“When you have a property like this that’s a little bit quirky, it does give you an opportunity to get creative.”
She said social media had also been a game changer in terms of marketing because it offered a chance for free advertising to a much bigger audience.
A Brisbane real estate agent recently spoofed the Hollywood film Mr & Mrs Smith to spruik a luxury Murrumba Downs property, and a Sydney firm used a ballroom-dancing couple to show off a western Sydney home.
“In today’s age where social media plays such a big role, if you’re able to develop a marketing campaign or form of advertising that goes viral, that can be a real gift,” she said.
“It’s a really inexpensive way of getting marketing out to the real world.”
Risk versus reward
However, Ms Mercorella said there was some risk involved in pitching a house as quirky, or highlighting parts of a home that could potentially put people off.
In 2012, the old Snowtown Bank — where the bodies of eight murdered people were kept in barrels — was bought by a couple.
The agents listing the home simply stated it was a piece of Australian history and “the setting for the movie Snowtown”, but did not detail the gruesome nature of the crimes committed.
Real estate firm NGU recently marketed a property in the style of the movie Mr & Mrs Smith. (Facebook: NGU Real Estate)
“You need to pitch it correctly, not all attention is good attention,” Ms Mercorella said.
“You want your property to be getting lots of marketing attention, you want to be driving people to come and visit and look at the property online.
“That needs to be fairly finely balanced against putting people off … potentially a sex dungeon may do so, particularly if you’re looking for your next family home.”
Former president of the Real Estate Institute of SA Gregory Nybo said there were a range of factors to consider when marketing your home.
“There’s an obligation perhaps on the selling agent to highlight the individuality of any home,” he said.
“A competent and prudent seller would look at all features of the dwelling to see, well, ‘is there a bit of a spin here I can utilise to attract attention?’
“What some people might see as a bit odd might be of real interest and desire to another.”
What should you do?
Ms Mercorella said sellers of quirky homes should talk to their real estate agents to maximise good marketing opportunities.
“Let them know that you are prepared to be bolder and give them licence to have some fun with it,” Ms Mercorella said.
“Seek their advice on how far you should go with that. You want to ensure that, at the end of the day, you’re getting the best price possible for your property.
“You don’t want to be emphasising certain things about the property if they’re going to be detrimental.”
The bizarre decor inside the Magill mansion is being marketed as a selling point. (Toop & Toop)
As for the Magill property, seller Brad Pannell said the home would be auctioned later this month — although he had considered holding on to it until Halloween.