Halloween Across America
The biggest holiday between July 4 and Thanksgiving is upon us, and it's an important milestone for many reasons.
First of all, it means it's officially getting colder. Temperatures will plummet as we continue our way through fall and into winter, and the type of person who can never believe it is what date it is (When did November get here?) will finally have to face facts and winterize their home.
After all the aimless wandering that summer's warm weather and spread-out holidays allowed, it's also easy to forget how quickly the holidays hit. Halloween is here, which means it's not long until you've got to see that uncle again at Thanksgiving, and then the endless shopping holidays usher us right into Christmas, with New Year's on its heels. To some, Halloween's a reminder that you can't really take a breath again until January, when we'll all keep accidentally writing "2017" for the date.
Americans are expected to spend over $15 billion this year on Halloween, and while the oft-touted statistic that it's the second largest US holiday is overstating things a bit, that's certainly a huge number.
Being in the real estate business as we are, what can Halloween tell us?
Consumers say they expect to spend $86.13 on Halloween. That's more than Independence Day and the Super Bowl, but nowhere in the league of Mother's Day or Christmas, where Time reports that consumers expect to spend $795.97 each. If you're wondering why your local Wal-Mart has Christmas decorations on display before Halloween, that would be why.
So if we as a country really spend $15 billion on Halloween, what are we spending it on? Unsurprisingly, the biggest cost is costumes. The only holiday where you can get dressed up no matter how old you are, costume sales are huge. Second place, naturally, is candy, since no one wants to be that house. Lastly amongst the big three costs is the big one for our purposes: decorations.
The general rule of thumb for listing a house during the holidays is to not go too crazy with the decor. Pretty much everyone agrees that houses look cozier and more charming when lit with some string lights, but religious imagery can be offputting to some potential buyers, and it makes it harder for them to picture themselves living there - which, of course, is the goal of any listed house.
The same rules apply to Halloween, though it's a lot easier to be offputting in October. If you're staging a house, steer away from the gory props and skip the ones that jump out at unsuspecting guests. No one's going to fault you for having some carved pumpkins or cutesy ghosts, but a buyer doesn't want to imagine what put those bloody handprints on your window when they're walking through your otherwise charming house.
Then again, your awesome and disgusting Halloween decor might just catch the attention of someone who also loves Halloween.
Many parents wile away All Hallow's Eve by ogling the houses in their neighborhood, and for many it's an unprecedentedly close look at their neighbors' homes. In an era where we're typically more connected online than in person, it's reported that a third of Americans have never met their neighbors.
Trick or treating is the rare excuse for everyone to leave their home and roam around the neighborhood at a child's pace. You can (finally) meet your neighbors, or at least see what their entryway looks like.
One website goes so far as to say Americans not knowing their neighbors is bad for the future of democracy, and maybe they have a point. Pew surveys say that, every year, Americans know less about their neighbors. Many older people may point to the good ol' days when they knew all their neighbors and could count on them without reservation, but change is natural. Rolling with it is how we move forward.
Real estate is a social industry, and knowing more people can only help you out. Whether you're out trick or treating and meeting the other parents roaming the block, or if you don't yet have kids and just want to get involved, meet your neighbors! You never know what cool stuff they could be into.
Trick or Treating
Surely you know which neighborhoods around your city are the best for trick or treating, and even if it isn't from past experience, you can make a pretty solid educated guess. They're typically wealthy, well-lit, easy to walk around, and young. That last one, young, follows the rest, since "well-lit" and "easy to walk around" are also high on the list of things millennial homebuyers look for in a neighborhood.
Zillow has put together a handy list of the best 20 American cities for trick or treating, and they've also broken it down by neighborhood. Though they won't tell you which houses are cool enough to hand out the full-size candy bars, it's easy to see that wealthy houses give good candy.
Zillow's criteria included number of kids under 10, high home values, dense population, and cities with populations over 500,000. The top 10 cities are all coastal, but when you keep reading, it's clear that great trick or treating can be had in practically any city. California's great weather certainly helps matters, but even cold-weather cities like Baltimore and Chicago snuck into the top 20.
As a real estate agent, sometimes finding new clients is as simple as getting out in the world, but spreading your card along with some holiday cheer is always a more fun way of networking. Consider a spooky open house in one of your vacant listings, or reverse trick-or-treating, where you give out candy to houses in your chosen area.
If you're curious to read more into what trick or treating says about the neighborhood, check out one of our other blog posts.