The Margin: Meet the realtor whose home listing scared up 1 million views with a Ghostface costume

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This real estate listing is a “Scream.”

A Michigan agent who loves Halloween decided to have some fun when putting a house in Lansing on the market last weekend. So James Pyle donned the “Ghostface” costume from the “Scream” horror movie franchise, and posed in a few pictures of the four-bedroom home that are sprinkled among the more professional shots featured in the Zillow ZG, -0.32% listing. They include the slasher raking leaves in the yard, hiding behind sheer curtains in the living room, and carving a pumpkin on the kitchen island using his signature butcher knife.

“There’s nothing wrong with the neighborhood or area; it’s just not one of those neighborhoods that everyone is dying to get into,” Pyle, 41, told MarketWatch. (The pun was not intended, he said). “And so I was hoping if we did something novelty and comical and kind of silly, that we’d garner between 500 and 1,000 views.”

Michigan real estate agent James Pyle wore the Ghostface costume from the “Scream” movies in a recent listing.

The result? While typical Lansing real estate listings get around 100 views after a week or two this time of year, Pyle said, his creepy, comical post for 809 N. Chestnut St. was approaching 1 million views on Zillow alone on Tuesday afternoon — just four days after it went live. And Pyle guessed that the total number of views from Facebook FB, -1.27%, Twitter TWTR, -2.31%, other realtors sharing his post, as well as pickups from local news outlets and the “Today” show, puts it closer to 5 million hits. He is also scheduled to appear on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, so this viral listing could be haunting social media feeds for days to come.

What’s more, this $30 Halloween costume — available at shops like Amazon AMZN, -0.01%   and Party City PRTY, +2.63%  — has already brought in one potential buyer for the $105,000 home. “The sellers are very pleased,” he said.

So what made this spooky stunt a hit instead of a horror show?

Pyle, who has 15 years experience as a real estate agent under his cowl, said that keeping things tasteful was key.

“This is a professional listing,” he said, noting that the Ghostface pics only make up about a third of the overall slideshow. “And as much as we were having fun with it, we didn’t want to do anything too scary. So we did things that weren’t gruesome. We kept it fun and humorous, so that kids could laugh at it, too.”

Michigan real estate agent James Pyle wore the Ghostface costume from the “Scream” movies in a recent listing.

Plus, he said the horror elements fit well with the 1,568-square-foot, century-old house and its original hardwood floors and large windows, especially with Halloween around the corner. “It was just the right combination of things that made it pop so quickly,” he said. “We did it classy, and it’s the right time of year.”

He was also sure to get the homeowner’s permission before proceeding with the frightening photo shoot, of course. “She said she’s thrilled with it,” he said. “She and her family have just had a really good time with it, too.”

It’s still drawn at least one Halloween hater, however, as another real estate agent left him a furious voicemail on Tuesday morning. “She said I needed to be more professional and grow the f— up,” he said.

Michigan real estate agent James Pyle wore the Ghostface costume from the “Scream” movies in a recent listing.

But while the extra attention is certainly good for getting people to look at the house, Pyle said that reading the market is even more important. “Real estate in Michigan has slowed down because winter is coming … so we have set the price right,” he said. “I was hoping to get an offer within a week, and we got one in four days. And I know there’s more serious interest than just this one buyer.”

He’s now considering hiding costumed characters in some future listings, as well, although he wouldn’t share which ones or when. “I don’t think I’ll be able to repeat the same success as with this listing ever again,” said Pyle. “But we’re going to have fun. I’ve been getting calls from real estate agents all across the country that said they loved the ingenuity. It’s put smiles on people’s faces, which has been the best part.

“I’m just completely enjoying my two minutes of fame,” he added. “And nobody will know who I am next week.”