Local real estate agent Melissa Leonard took the plunge and showed off the sadomasochistic side of a $750,000 home in Maple Glen, PA. The home features a basement stocked with enough bondage implements to make Christian Grey blush.
Initially, Leonard’s decision was simply practical. The owner was planning to leave the basement in place with the sale of the home. The agent had to decide whether to surprise potential buyers touring the home with the kinky basement or be upfront about the home’s “special” elements.
According to Leonard, the basement doubles as a specialty Airbnb rental and fetches up to $2,000 a night—which makes for one heck of a side hustle for a buyer looking to offset a monthly mortgage payment.
“I decided I was just going to put it out there,” Leonard says. “I felt like this is the house—and I should just sell the house the way it is.”
Initially she was going to include just one or two photos of the basement, but the homeowner suggested they show off more of the space. So Leonard sent her professional photographer back down to the “sexual oasis” to shoot every inch of the space.
Here’s Leonard giving a video tour of the house:
The decision turned out to be a stroke of genius. After the first article appeared in Philly Voice, the home went viral. Reporters from across the country (including us!) inundated Leonard’s phone, hungry for details about the “50 Shades of Maple Glen” house.
Even “50 Shades of Grey” author E.L. James took notice:
— E L James (@E_L_James) February 8, 2019
The home received an additional boost online after the local multiple listing service decided to remove the pictures of the basement from the listing. Leonard says she was told the photos violate MLS policy.
The Streisand effect soon took hold. Once the photos were banned, the hunger to see and share them reached a fever pitch.
Here are the photos of the basement that were deemed over the line. If ever there were a way to design a tasteful sex dungeon, this is it, right?
The idea of a quiet, suburban home with a secret sex dungeon was tantalizing, to say the least. And, basement aside, the home is ideal. For families looking for a picture-perfect suburban home just a short commute from downtown Philadelphia, it fits the bill. If kink isn’t your bag, simply sell off the BDSM accessories, and voila, you have a great game room or man cave.
Built in 1997, the charming Colonial with a red door has more than 5,000 square feet of living space, including five bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. The kitchen was remodeled in 2013 with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.
There’s also a wall of windows in the family room, three fireplaces, a billiard room, fitness room, stately office, and dining room with custom wainscoting. Hardwood flooring runs throughout the interiors. Outside, the wooded yard is private and outfitted with a custom gazebo.
Since the home’s splashy debut on the market, Leonard has been inundated with calls from interested buyers. She adds that most folks would keep the basement as is.
Although Leonard says she’s gotten kudos from agents all over the country, she’s also received a share of “shame on you” comments. We contacted several agents, the local MLS, and the National Association of Realtors® about the listing. They all declined to comment on the home or its uproar.
Still, the viral success of the listing goes head to head against the conventional wisdom that only empty spaces, beige palettes, and nondescript decor help sell homes.
Leonard says her philosophy is to embrace what a home is, wrap your arms around it, and go for it.
“Go with the way your client’s personality is. Go with the way they live,” she says. “Then leverage it. It’s not bad to be different.”
Because the thing that makes a property weird can also make it magical—even if it’s too spicy for some folks.