September Home Checklist

Favorite Halloween Traditions of the Past and Present

Here’s a treat for you: a look back at frightful Halloween trends and customs through the years.

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

No matter how many great political or lion-eating-dentist costumes we’ll see this year, being an adult at Halloween can be a bit of a bummer. Between obligatory “clever” costumes and the egregious lack of candy at most adult-themed Halloween parties, there’s not a lot of giddiness left in the holiday for the grownups.

In honor of the bygone days of candy-trading and itchy wigs, we rounded up a few of the fun, quirky, nostalgic spooky traditions of yore — some of which are alive and well today.

Maybe we can’t trick or treat anymore, but we can delight in remembering the highlights of our childhood Halloweens.

Trick or treating

Ah, door-to-door sweets retrieval from strangers. It’s the day every kid looks forward to all year, but how on earth did this tradition come about?

Frankenstein and friend, circa 1974-1978. © Larry Racioppo Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library .

Turns out trick-or-treating actually has a couple of sources. One is the early Celt tradition of dressing up like demons at the end of the year — the idea being, if you ran into one, he’d think you were part of his posse.

The other is a later practice from the Middle Ages known as “souling,” in which poorer members of the community would go to wealthier homes on All Souls Day and offer prayers for their dearly departed in return for “soul cakes.”

Over the centuries, soul cakes gave way to Snickers and prayers gave way to tricks, but the practice of going house-to-house remains.

The classic witch costume

Before TV and movies made vampires and werewolves and witches ridiculously attractive, there was the classic witch, made famous in “The Wizard of Oz” and beloved as everyone’s last minute go-to costume.

Hallowe’en postcard, circa 1910. Published by Raphael Tuck & Sons. Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library.

All you needed was a broom, which your parents were no doubt super happy to surrender for a night, and maybe a pointy hat — which, as it turns out, wasn’t actually associated with witches until the 18th century. Bonus points for green facepaint and nose warts.

Front lawn graveyard

Let’s be honest. We’ve all been secretly terrified by this. Maybe you passed the yard while out on a jog, maybe you were a kid trick or treating, but at some point, those bones sticking out of a well-manicured lawn took you by surprise.

Halloween decorations in the front yard of a house on Halloween.; Shutterstock ID 132523844; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Halloween decorations in the front yard of a house on Halloween.; Shutterstock ID 132523844; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Yearning to re-create this childhood favorite in your own yard? If you can’t get your hands on plastic gravestones, there’s always the classic “dead body in the front yard” thing. Just make sure everyone knows it’s fake, unless you want the cops to show up. Seriously.

The Monster Mash

Okay, so maybe it’s not “cool” to dance to, and you still regret that time you chose it at karaoke, but you gotta hear this song at least once in October, right?

Inspired by ’60s dance records and the simultaneous horror movie craze, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash” actually topped the charts when it was released in 1962 — and again in 1973. How about a 2015 revival? Put it on repeat at your Halloween bash and see if it catches on.

The Singing Ghost

The mask with a knife; Shutterstock ID 2276447; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The mask with a knife; Shutterstock ID 2276447; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post


Speaking of Halloween music: Once motion activation got going, you couldn’t trust any doorway.

Things have gotten a little more sophisticated since, but step under any awning on Halloween night in the ’90s and there was a solid chance you were going to hear this “eerie” tune.

The ‘Scream’ mask

Ah, “Scream.” It brought Neve Campbell back to the silver screen, knocked off Drew Barrymore in the first scene (spoiler alert?), and gave teenage dudes everywhere the perfect Halloween costume to terrify and annoy their friends from 1996 to this very day.

The Addams Family

Whether you watched the show in the ’60s or the movies in the ’90s (ideally both), the Addams are the iconic “all together ooky” Halloween family you know and love — and fear. (Unless, of course, you were a fan of “The Munsters,” instead.)

Bonus points to the mysterious and spooky gang for offering a huge variety of fun Halloween costumes, most of which are relatively easy to pull off —except for, say, Cousin It. Nobody wants that much hair in their Halloween candy.


Believe it or not, the reason we all have to struggle with these kits every October is because of an Irish folk legend about “Stingy Jack.”

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Halloween pumpkin with leafs on orange background; Shutterstock ID 158297801; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

This Jack dude apparently tricked the Devil — twice! — and wasn’t allowed to go to Heaven or Hell upon his death. Instead, he was doomed to roam the earth forever with a coal lantern which, for some reason, he put into a turnip. Fast forward a few centuries and “Jack of the Lantern” becomes jack-o’-lantern, pumpkins take over for turnips, and Stingy Jack, for all we know, is still wandering around, turnip in hand.

What Halloween decorations, costumes, and traditions are you looking forward to this year?

Posted by Zillow Team on Zillow

This Is the Scariest Open House Ever (Good Thing It’s Fake)

A lot of strange things have happened at open houses—agents have found voodoo dolls and naked couples, among many other odd sights. But how many times have mirrors cracked, microwaves sparked with static electricity, and pictures randomly dropped to the floor at an open house?

Renee Lee/iStock

At least once, at an open house at an infamously frightening setting: the home used as the setting for the first “Paranormal Activity” film. Marketers for the next film in the franchise, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” staged the faux haunted open house as a promotional stunt and posted a video of it to YouTube, to get some Halloween traction for the movie. (Guess it worked—we got sucked in.) They brought real people in and gave them a tour of terrifying shakes, sparks, and cracks that sent them screaming and scrambling out of the house.

How authentic was it? The open house–goers are suspiciously good-looking, and a few seem to be suppressing smiles. One assumes they had an idea that some kind of unusual activity was on the docket. Maybe they just weren’t expecting it to be paranormal.

As for as we know, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home isn’t actually up for grabs.Our records show it was sold in February for $760,000.

Posted by Lisa Davis on

How to Stage Your Home for Fall Showings

Follow these tips to show prospective buyers a home for all seasons.

Staging a home is like vacuuming before company arrives: You might not notice it when it’s done well, but you definitely notice when it isn’t.

Fall’s biggest buyers are millennials with a sharp eye for detail and empty nesters looking to have some space to themselves, so it makes even more sense to set your home up to show well to these demographics. Since autumn is an especially homey time of year, it’s easy to add a bit of cozy comfort while keeping your place ship-shape for showings.

Set the scene

Do as much purging and packing as you can before beginning home showings. Store packed possessions out of sight in the garage or at a storage facility.

Of course, furniture can stay, as long as it’s neutral and doesn’t take up too much room. It may seem counterintuitive, but pulling furniture away from the walls can make a room seem bigger, which is ideal.

Positioning furniture in the middle of the room can make a space seem bigger. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

A few small touches are not remiss. A folded throw on the back of a chair is welcoming, as are a tasteful cluster of candles on the coffee table or a selection of nice-looking magazines.

Put a shine on it

Once you’ve de-cluttered, a good old-fashioned deep clean is the number one way to make a house shine. Don’t forget the “hidden” spaces that buyers may check, such as under-sink cabinets, closets and storage areas.

Clear out the clutter and make sure cabinets stay tidy. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

It’s easy to become oblivious to things you see (and smell) every day, so hiring someone to come clean may be worth the investment if you’re short on time. Clear kitchen counters completely, except for perhaps a bowl of fresh apples or pears and a candle with a simple scent such as vanilla.

Don’t forget the outside, too: Replace burnt-out bulbs on garage lights, sweep cobwebs, and power-wash siding or decks if necessary. A simple fall wreath and new welcome mat are effective and inexpensive improvements.

Let them in

Potential buyers want to be able to see themselves living in the home they’re touring, so safely stowing away your family photographs and mementos will easily free up visual space for their mind’s eye. Hanging mirrors instead will bring light and life to the space, making it look larger as well.

Natural light is paramount to most buyers, so remove or open blinds and heavy curtains to keep rooms airy and bright. Inexpensive sheers on all of the windows will instantly lift visual weight from the interior. Fall days can turn gloomy, though, so be sure to have warm interior lighting ready to go if you need it.

Use natural light and careful lighting to create a welcoming glow at any time of day. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Show purpose

Setting up spaces in a neutral and intentional way will also help potential buyers design their own ideal life in the house. If you’ve turned the dining room into a catch-all station, it’s time to let that dining room table be seen again.

If there is an office space, keep it as streamlined as possible. Millennials will want to see a clean office space where they can envision telecommuting.

Streamlined rooms allow buyers to envision themselves living in the space. Courtesy of Thea Segal.

While these tips may be inconvenient or expensive in the short term, they can pay off in higher sale prices and less time on the market. And since the bulk of packing and moving work will be done already, you’ll be able to smoothly transition once your home sells.

Posted by Natalie Wise on Zillow

6 Fall Gardening Tips You Need to Read

If you thought spring was the only time to plant and indulge in some gardening, you’ve come to the right place! There’s no need to worry about your garden turning dull and lifeless as fall approaches as there’s a lot you can grow depending on where you stay.

Even if you don’t want to grow plants in the cold months, preparing your garden for next spring will be helpful in more ways than one.

Here are some great fall gardening tips you’ll find helpful.

Clean up the Place

Start with clearing the ground of fallen leaves and twigs. Remember to save the leaves to make compost. Pick up fallen flowers and fruits, and dispose diseased or infested plantsappropriately after uprooting.

Check the ground carefully for weeds and get rid of them. Some perennial weeds can be killed more easily with fall weedicides than with summer applications.

Don’t Uproot it All

While you may want to uproot annuals that flower in summer, leave a few of them untouched. Certain annuals and perennials like ornamental grasses, tall sedums, and Russian sage will add interest to your fall and winter garden.

Store Bulbs and Seeds

If you had planted some great annuals in the summer, you can store the bulbs and seeds for next spring. For bulbs, let root structures dry out for a few days after you dig them up. Shake off excess soil and store in a cool, dark place in sawdust or peat moss. Seeds of open-pollinated plants can be stored in paper envelopes placed inside glass jars indoors.

Freshen up the Soil

Freshening up the soil will help your fall plants grow to their full potential. Further, by growing plants that can replete the soil with nutrients, you’ll be doing your future spring plants a favor.

Move the existing layer of mulch to one side. Compacted soil can hinder root growth so use a garden fork and fluff up the ground. You may want to test the pH of the soil at this stage and make amendments as needed.

Once you’re done, see if the old mulch can be reused; you might have to add in fresh organic matter if the mulch has decomposed considerably.

Shred the dead leaves you picked up while clearing your garden and spread them over the ground. Shredding leaves is important as whole leaves will form a mat and prevent water from flowing through the soil. Wet the shredded leaves down or cover with a light dusting of compost to stop them from blowing away.

If you’re planning to grow fall vegetables in your garden, use straw as mulch. This will help as you can easily scatter and move straw about. Moreover, it will provide an excellent home for spiders who will help keep pests away.

Take Care of Green Cover

Grass will turn green again after the blistering-hot summer and will grow vigorously next spring if you fertilize it while it’s still green. Refrain from mowing it too short, and continue to aerate and water it until it turns brown. If snow cover is scant where you live, you can water your lawn once a month throughout the winter.

Synthetic grass won’t require as much care and maintenance. However, continue caring for your synthetic turf as you normally do to keep it looking lush and natural.

Choose Fall Plants Wisely

Before you start planting fall varieties, identify your fall gardening goals. Do you want to grow plants of a particular color or texture, or do you want to fill in blank spots created by dead warm-weather plants?

Decide on a fall garden plan and remember to stick to established gardening guidelines to ensure your garden looks as pretty as it does in the warmer months.

When it comes to selecting plants, note that depending on where you live, you can grow several plants and vegetables in your garden in fall and winter. Try growing vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, and chard, and you’ll fall in love with the taste of home-grown produce! Do plant some quick growers like radishes and spinach- these can go from seed to table in a month or so.

To add color, you can grow ornamental grasses or succulents. Trees that show fall colors will also be a great addition to your garden.


Gardening in fall allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature season after season. With fewer pests to deal with, your fall plants are sure to grow better. And when you plant perennials in fall and winter, you can relax knowing that they’ll grow bigger by spring and be better adapted to brave the hot summer!

Now that you’ve read these tips, you know that fall gardening isn’t tough at all. With just a little care, you’ll have a beautiful garden to look at even in the cold months.

Happy gardening!

Posted by Francesca Holmes on HomeZada

Bavarian-Style Homes Primed for Oktoberfest

It’s that time of year when lederhosen- and dirndl-wearing tourists head to Munich for the world’s largest funfair: Oktoberfest. But you don’t have to leave the U.S. to join in the festivities. From Fredericksburg, TX to Leavenworth, WA, towns across the country celebrate Bavarian culture, beer and architecture year-round.

from Zillow

from Zillow

In celebration of all things Oktoberfest, here’s a look at Bavarian-style homes for sale in America.

Tamworth, NH

26 Margo Ln, Tamworth, NH
For sale: $136,200

This cute-as-a-button ski chalet is nestled among pine trees near White Lake State Park. In the winter, you can snowmobile from your door or head to King Pine Ski Area, a 15-minute drive away.

See more listings near White Lake State Park.

Leavenworth, WA

303 Commercial St, Leavenworth, WA
For sale: $687,500

“Haus Timmermans” is located in the heart of Leavenworth, a Pacific Northwest village where everything — even the street signs — are Bavarian-themed. The three-level chalet is filled with a collection of authentic European furniture, a wine cellar and sauna.

See more homes for sale in Leavenworth.

Fredericksburg, TX

685 Pedernales Estates Rd, Fredericksburg, TX
For sale: $473,000

Fredericksburg or “Fritztown” attracts visitors with its boutiques and local wineries. This custom 2-bedroom in the heart of Texas Hill Country shows off scalloped eaves and railings reminiscent of a Bavarian home.

See more Fredericksburg real estate.

Beaver Creek, CO

65 Elk Track Ct, Beaver Creek, CO
For sale: $8.5 million

This Bavarian-style manor mixes German taste with a presidential past. Previously owned by former President Gerald Ford, the ski-in, ski-out home features a presidential seal in the entryway floor and wear and tear left by Ford’s favorite desk chair.

See more homes for sale in Edwards.

Incline Village, NV

1313 Moritz Ct, Incline Village, NV
For sale: $419,000

With hiking trails just outside the front door and views of the Diamond Peak Ski Resort, this Incline Village home is an ideal ski chalet. It also shows off Bavarian-style shutters and trim.

See more Incline Village homes for sale.

Franklin, NC

184 Pinecrest Ln, Franklin, NC
For sale: $84,900

This rustic mountain retreat is on the market fully furnished for less than $100,000. Located in Franklin’s Swiss Colony Estates, the home boasts long-range mountain views.

See more homes listed in Franklin.

Tafton, PA

116 Shore Rd, Tafton, PA
For sale: $359,000

With details like a gingerbread house, this A-frame is directly across from a dock and boat slip on Lake Wallenpaupack. The home features a new refrigerator, windows, carpet and roof.

See more Palmyra Township homes for sale.

Tacoma, WA

8624 E Side Dr NE, Tacoma, WA
For sale: $725,000

Built in 1990, this Bavarian-style custom home has five balconies to maximize mountain and Puget Sound views. Each bedroom is a suite with its own bathroom and a large closet.

See more homes in Pierce County.

Gaylord, MI

2214 Michaywe Dr, Gaylord, MI
For sale: $79,000

Cozy up this fall with a wood-burning fireplace or take a hike through lush woodlands at this Gaylord, MI property. Public amenities include cross-country ski trails, nature areas and a championship golf course.

See more properties for sale in Gaylord.

Londonderry, VT

480 Magic Cir, Londonderry, VT
For sale: $249,900

With snowflake shutters and a beautifully-crafted Swiss-style fireplace, this ski chalet has character. The home was designed to suit a mountain lifestyle close to ski, golf, hiking and lake destinations.

See more Londonderry homes.

Bolton Landing, NY

73 Longview Ln, Bolton Landing, NY
For sale: $845,621

If you’re looking for a huge Bavarian chalet to celebrate Oktoberfest with friends and family, look no further. This home has 6 bedrooms and 4 baths on 8 acres.

See more homes for sale in the area.

Roselle, IL

790 S Roselle Rd, Roselle, IL
For sale: $364,900

With German and Dutch architectural elements, such as a clinker-brick construction and cedar-shake roof, this 1928-built home is full of charm. The Roselle, IL home is located on a 1-acre wooded lot with a spacious patio for cookouts.

See more listings in Roselle.

Bartlett, NH

77 Linderhof Strasse, Bartlett, NH
For sale: $179,900

A curved door and wooden cut-outs add to the personality of this Bavarian-style home. The interior features a nice layout with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a fireplace.

See more Bartlett homes on the market.

Spokane, WA

9227 N Mountain View Ln, Spokane, WA
For sale: $440,000

With a recent $10,000 price cut, this custom-built Spokane home is available for $440,000. Neighbors reportedly call the street “The Lane,” and it’s not hard to see why. This 1912-built home is filled with Bavarian-inspired details, making it a historical and cultural gem.

See more Fairwood residences for sale.

Wellesley Island, NY

22238 Stone Gate Ln, Wellesley Island, NY
For sale: $575,000

A German-style, half-timbered design, this century-old property was built by self-made millionaire George Boldt to house his prominent guests at the height of the Golden Era. The house has since been renovated for a more contemporary lifestyle.

See more homes listed in Alexandria.

This article was originally published by Catherine Sherman on Zillow Blog. See it here.

Catherine Sherman, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers real estate news, industry trends and home design.

Calling All Ghost Hunters! Homes with Horrifying Histories for Sale

By Catherine Sherman | Zillow Blog

It’s that time of year when pumpkins are carved, ghoulish costumes are worn and ghost stories are acceptable dinner conversation. In celebration of the mysterious, spooky and hair-raising, we’ve gathered homes for sale in some of America’s most haunted cities. Don’t worry: No ghost sightings have been reported in these houses … at least not yet.

Villisca, IA

107 W High St, Villisca, IA
3 bedrooms, 2 bath, 1,966 square feet
For sale: $85,000

107 W High St, Villisca, IA

Villisca, IA is haunted by an unsolved murder. In 1912, Josiah B. Moore, his wife and six children were bludgeoned to death in their beds, and there was never enough evidence to bring the murderer to trial. Now the Ax Murder House has been restored to its original condition and is open for tours or an overnight stay. If you’d rather not sleep under the same roof where an ax-wielding assailant roamed, however, a 3-bedroom home on a landscaped corner lot is available on West High Street.

Weston, WV

333 N River Ave, Weston, WV 
3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2,180 square feet
For sale: $148,500

333 N River Ave, Weston, WV 26452

There’s nothing like 6 fireplaces in a 1900s Victorian to set the scene for a good ghost story. This home is in the same town as the former Weston State Hospital, which housed thousands of people with mental illnesses before it closed in 1994. Now known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the site is a nationally recognized landmark with a history of Civil War raids, a gold robbery and reminders of patients who died in its four walls. The Asylum also offers ghost tours, with guests, staff and ghost hunters reporting “apparition sightings, unexplainable voices and sounds.”

Baltimore, MD

1703 Lancaster St, Baltimore, MD 
2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, 1,185 square feet
For sale: $259,999

1703 Lancaster St, Baltimore, MD

According to Zillow’s mortgage calculator, you can own this 2-bedroom row house in Baltimore for $1,010 a month, assuming 20 percent down on a 30-year fixed mortgage. You can also lay claim to Fells Point, where the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe is believed to reside. Not convinced? Grab a drink at “The Horse” and find out what locals have to say.

New Orleans, LA

526 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA
2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,489 square feet
For sale: $510,000

526 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA

A French Quarter condo is available on Dauphine Street, which is also home to The Sultan’s Palace. The Sultan was a wealthy businessman who rented an estate in the 1800s and came to be known for his lifestyle of partying and holding women against their will. But the creepiest part of the story is how The Sultan died. Some say it was a pirate, while others say it was his brother vying for the sultanate. Either way The Sultan was reportedly buried alive while his family was hacked to pieces.

Savannah, GA

510 E Saint Julian St, Savannah, GA
3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,863 square feet
For sale: $939,000

510 E Saint Julian St, Savannah, GA

If a Savannah accent makes you want to come inside and stay awhile, you’re not alone. In Georgia’s oldest city, burial grounds have been covered up and built over, leading many to believe the town is ridden with ghosts of the past. With a history of Civil War-era skirmishes, Moon River Brewing Company has reported bottles being thrown across the room by an indescribable force. You can investigate the city’s haunted history yourself from this 1797-built Savannah home. Three well-appointed bedrooms and a beautifully remodeled kitchen are selling points, though you may want to leave the lights on!