'Hell no': Family finds bizarre feature in $530k house up for sale

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·2-min read

When house hunting, there are some major flaws that can automatically rule out a property from your shortlist.

No off-road parking, a small backyard or a dated bathroom are some of the drawbacks people can't see past.

But a uniquely-designed staircase? That's what one Tiktoker claims put his family off a three-bed, three-bathroom home in the US state of Maryland priced at US$400,000 (A$526,000).

Video of the staircase, which featured alternating tread stairs, has gone viral on the video sharing app with more than 10.8 million views thanks in part to the style widely known as 'witches' stairs'. 

The user and hundreds of others claimed the stairs were installed decades earlier to prevent witches accessing the above floor.

A Baltimore house, pictured on the left, up for sale had what some on TikTok thought were a dealbreaker feature, alternate-tread stairs (right).
The stairs at the Baltimore home caused a stir on TikTok. Source: TikTok/ themistershade

"We said hell no to these stairs," the post's caption read.

Many others simply struggled to comprehend how they would use the staircase.

"The one who created these stairs are possessed," one user wrote.

Some even said the stairs would actually be a dealbreaker for them.

"Am I the only one who thinks they look fun?" one comment read.

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Do these stairs ward off witches?

It turns out however the claim they were installed to ward off witches is simply an old wives' tale. 

Robin Briggs, an emeritus fellow at All Souls College at Oxford who has studied the history of religion, popular belief and witchcraft in Europe, told Reuters the claim was "disinformation".

He said common tactics used to deter witches were instead burying witch-bottles under the threshold or incorporating dead cats in the fabric.

“The nearest belief was that if you put a broom over the door lintel a witch who entered the room would be unable to leave it,” Mr Briggs added, noting the practice “crops up occasionally”.

Alternate-tread stairs “can solve problems of limited space”, according to Scott Schuttner, author of “Basic Stairbuilding”.

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