An outdated kitchen and a lack of curb appeal aren’t the only things that can keep buyers from biting. When it seems like there’s just no explanation for a perfectly good home sitting on the market, you might consider other possible causes.
Certain items, colors, and symbols have been thought to attract malicious forces to an otherwise peaceful abode. And while some people scoff at such beliefs, others take them seriously—and not just around Halloween.
“There are countless folkloric beliefs, and savvy homeowners are smart to acknowledge and respect such beliefs, whether they share them or not,” says Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and co-host of the “Squaring the Strange” podcast.
Whether or not you believe in bad omens, you might still be interested in covering your bases. After all, there’s no telling what prospective buyers of your home believe.
To get you started, here are a few supposed bad omens related to houses that you might want to avoid. Because it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
1. Empty rocking chair
Irish legend says an empty rocking chair brings dark spirits, and if the chair rocks, the evil spirit is already here. This could be of particular interest to sellers in the South, where rocking chairs are often placed on porches. One look at a chair that’s rocking by itself could send a seller running. But that doesn’t mean you have to remove it when you show the house.
Radford suggests keeping the chair still by placing a stone or doorstop under the legs to brace it.
“It just takes a few seconds, and might help seal a sale,” he says.
2. Green-painted walls
Pantone may have chosen Greenery for its official Color of the Year in 2017, but some people believe that green on the walls can bring bad vibes.
Back in the day, green paint was made using arsenic, and the presence of this toxic chemical is believed to have killed a number of people. While arsenic is no longer found in green paint, some still consider it bad luck to use it in the home.
If you want luck on your side, consider using blue paint instead. In the Southern United States, it was traditional to paint porch ceilings blue to keep evil spirits away.
“In many places around the world the color blue is considered lucky—originally associated with the sky and divinity—which is why many window and door frames are painted blue,” says Radford. “Blue windows likely won’t make or break a sale, but if you like the color and need to repaint anyway—why not?”
3. Red and white flowers in a vase
Red roses mean love and white flowers designate purity and innocence. As innocuous as a flower arrangement like this may seem, according to Victorian superstition, combining the two in a vase means death will soon follow.
But that doesn’t mean you should nix all flowers during an open house. They’re vital to elevating the appearance of your home. Instead, professional home stager Krisztina Bell of Atlanta suggests going green by using succulents and other types of greenery throughout the house. We’re also partial to eucalyptus branches, monstera leaves, or a pothos plant.
4. Old calendar
Make sure your calendar is up to date! A calendar showing the wrong month is believed to cut short a person’s life.
If you’re still stuck on the beautiful art that accompanies the calendar, cut it out and frame it for decor. Just make sure your calendar is flipped to the current month.
5. Black cats
Your sweet black cat might be minding its own business, but to potential buyers who happen upon it, your cat could be a bad omen. Black cats have been associated with witchcraft since the Middle Ages; but in Britain, Japan, and Ireland, black cats are seen as bringing good luck.
“Some people love black cats, while others look at them with suspicion. If you have a black cat, crate him or her up while showing the house,” says Radford.
In fact, that goes for other types of pets, too. You want potential buyers focusing on your home, not your four-legged friend.