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Attracting Trick-Or-Treaters... And Buyers?

Does an epic Halloween display help or hurt the bottom line?

Halloween is a reminder; it tells us why we choose or don’t choose to live in family-friendly neighborhoods. Burlingame is a family-oriented town. Halloween is in its sweet spot. Twenty miles north, trick-or-treaters battle fog and wind, climbing enormous flights of stairs for candy, only to as often as not be turned away at the door. The young, hip couple living in whatever Victorian flat they’re at is in the Castro tonight, dressed as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. They’ll be back later, long after all the trick-or-treaters are tucked safely in their beds.

Closer to home, though, entire blocks hang fake cobwebs in the trees, put fake tombstones in the front yard and dress as Dracula while handing out candy to children. San Francisco can have its “Exotic Erotic Ball.” In Burlingame, Halloween is more of a wholesome event.

In preparation for Halloween, Patch recently posted a map of “” Word on the street is that Cabrillo Avenue has the title sewn up, with other blocks running right on its heels.

I’ve been pretty consistent in insisting that community events like this – even events like pet parades – are good for a city’s real estate bottom line. They are part of the intangibles that ultimately mean as much to overall property values as good schools, new kitchens and low crime rates. The city at large benefits from Cabrillo Avenue’s commitment to Halloween. But what about on a macro level? Does an annual Halloween bash make your house more attractive to potential buyers?

One way to find the answer to these questions is to study a neighborhood located several miles south of Burlingame. San Carlos’ Eucalyptus Avenue is known regionally for its Halloween celebrations, which serve as a warm-up for the main event, a month-long holiday festival whose scope is so grand that the 1900 and 2000 blocks of the street basically shut down for December.

"On Halloween, they literally shut the two blocks of Eucalyptus down to vehicle traffic so that it becomes a walking plaza," said Realtor Chuck Gillooly. "It's usually mobbed with people all night."  

It’s big enough that realtors are compelled to warn prospective buyers who, according to Gillooly and agent Ed Gory, are seldom scared away.

“[The events] definitely make the neighborhood more desirable,” Gory says. “Looking historically at properties that have sold on Eucalyptus over the past 13 years, easily 90 percent of the time these homes have stayed on the market between one and three weeks [before selling]. Often they sell in less than a week.”

“And most of the time,” he said, “they go for over asking.”

"Homes tend to sell very quickly [on Eucalyptus]. I really don't think there's a negative hit to the bottom line on home values because of it," added Gillooly.

Eucalyptus is a desirable street for many reasons. It is not unlike Burlingame’s Easton Addition in that it attracts buyers looking to put down roots and be part of a stable neighborhood. Its most common demographic, said Gory, is young families – exactly the sort of buyer who would want to be part of massive annual holiday events.

The downside is traffic, both of the automotive and the pedestrian variety. Come Halloween (and of course, in December), the streets surrounding Eucalyptus will be filled with slow-moving cars, some gawking at the decorations, others looking to park and offload a gaggle of trick-or-treaters. If you prefer to turn off the porch light and hide in the dark, streets like Eucalyptus – and Cabrillo Avenue – are not for you.

“Generally, someone considering a Eucalyptus home will know about the annual traffic jam on the street that Christmas and Halloween brings,” Gory said, sensibly. “Either they know or their agent will tell them.” Shy, retiring types will know to stay away, but if San Carlos’ Eucalyptus Avenue is any indicator, ramping up Halloween on your street will make it more tempting to buyers, not less – especially in a town like Burlingame whose entire being, it often seems, is designed to attract families.

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