When I first saw the listing for this charming one-bedroom house at 228 Townsend Ave. in Baltimore, I thought: Now there’s a house with an aesthetic! That aesthetic can best be described as “sexy funeral goth.” From the coffins to the guillotine art to the mirrored loft bedroom to the faux hearse embedded in the outside wall, this home has everything you need for some cozy Elvira roleplay. I spoke to the seller’s agent, Matt Godbey, a broker with Re/Max in Frederick, Maryland, about what it takes to sell a house this unique. Our conversation has been condensed and edited.
Slate: When you have a house with decor as unusual as this, do you try to get the sellers to neutralize it a little? Or do you just embrace it?
Matt Godbey: Well, you should have seen it before. He somewhat neutralized it. I told him: I’ve been doing this for 33 years, and I know what sells. Some of the things in there, I told him, will frighten people. There were about 25 mannequins in the basement and some upstairs.
His thing is horror movies. It’s not a cult thing. And I can relate—I’ve seen quite a few of those movies myself. He removed the mannequins. He did what he could, but between getting the house ready for sale and working six days a week, it’s just about all he could do by himself. Some of the pictures are fastened to the wall, and he said he’ll have to tear them out and plaster and paint. But sometimes you don’t get 100 percent of what you ask a seller to do.
But it was worth it to just take what you could get.
He never planned to move, but something changed in his life. We wanted to catch the spring market. And it’s working—I’ve got six or seven showings scheduled already, and it’s been up less than a day. Part of what’s going on is there’s just nothing for sale. Everything I put on the market is getting multiple offers.
What’s the most sellable feature of the house, do you think? What do you lead with when you’re telling people about it?
Oh, there’s quite a bit. Unusual for that neighborhood, there’s a double wide driveway, so parking is easier. And you can access the garage from the front or the back—it connects to the alley. It’s a two-car garage.
The one with the big mural of skulls and things on it.
Right. And the backyard—oh, the backyard’s a paradise. He built, himself, out of stone and granite, a 14-foot wet bar that has built-in coolers and a TV on the wall.
What about inside?
The interior—well, he’s done some updates, as you can see. He customized it so there’s one loft-style bedroom. That makes it a lot easier getting furniture upstairs. People like that. And if you want to make some kind of a change to the interior, you could throw a wall and a door up there and make it two bedrooms.
Look, is the seller a vampire?
No, not that I’m aware of.
If he was, would you be allowed to say, or is there some kind of realtor privilege?
Well, in real estate we talk about the property, not the people, because of housing discrimination.
Oh, that’s a good point. I don’t know if vampires are a protected class.
I’ve learned in fair housing seminar after fair housing seminar, you do not talk about people. You want me to tell you how many square feet or how long the driveway or what it looks like inside, no problem.
So to me the most shocking thing in the house is not the mirrored bed or the dungeon but the Raiders art on the walls. Aren’t you worried that Baltimore buyers will be turned off by that?
You know, we’re a pretty transient area. We’ve got Ravens fans, we’ve got, uh, Washington Football Team fans, we’ve got lots of different kinds. No one’s been upset about that.