by Andy Asbury
Disclosing whether a property is haunted or not can work for or against the seller. Some buyers are specifically looking for a residence with a ghostly presence, while others would turn tail and run at such a suggestion. Either way, if a seller knows something about a property and fails to disclose it, they are setting themselves up for a possible lawsuit. In some states, a seller must disclose whether a death has occurred on the property within the last three years.
Information that a home may be haunted can affect the value of the house and most certainly should be mentioned, since it’s doubtful the buyer would make that discovery on his own before purchasing. The rule of caveat emptor, or buyer beware, can be used as an argument when the possibility of a home being haunted was not disclosed prior to a sale. Even if the owner has no solid evidence, if he cannot deny the existence of ghosts, it is enough for a court to declare a contract void and have the deposit returned.
Value: Generally a home suspected of being haunted is priced according to fair market value, and then adjusted depending on buyer interest. Such was the case with a Nottinghamshire property purchased in 2007. The family thought they had found their dream home when they bought Clifton Hall, a 52-room country estate dating back to the days of William the Conqueror.
The structure appeared innocent enough, until the family moved in. After enduring months of ghostly voices and bloodcurdling screams, the owners enlisted the aid of paranormal investigators. Even science couldn’t intervene and the hauntings continued. Unable to share their home any longer with these creepy tenants, Clifton Hall was put up for sale about one year later for £2.75m, and almost £1m less than they originally paid. The property was finally sold, but never returned to its status as a residence, and is currently being utilized as a conference centre.
Haunted houses may take longer to sell:
Actor Nicholas Cage, knowingly purchased the old LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans’ French Quarter in December 2006 for $3.45 million. Built in 1832, this home was the scene of horrible violence and is known for its paranormal activity. Although the Cage family spent time in the house, they never stayed overnight. In the fall of 2008, the actor put it back up for sale for $3.55 million. The mansion, now a bed & breakfast, is again for sale, with a price tag of $4.9 million, ghosts included.
In some cases when there is a history of well publicized violence, homes don’t even get listed. Such was the case In St. Catharines, Ontario, where the home of serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo, was bulldozed and sold as an empty lot. On the other hand, home of Sharon Tate, the scene of the Manson Family murders, was sold at full value. The new owner tore it down and rebuilt a new mansion on the prime real estate site.
Although most people would not actively search out a haunted house, there are those who consider a such a residence a bonus.
An ad on the site for San Diego Paranormal Research states:
“The San DiegoParanormal Research Project will teamed up with your Professional Licensed Real Estate Agents to assist with the buying and selling of allegedly Haunted Houses and property throughout the United States. We will also handle requests for regular houses.”
Apparently there is a market for haunted houses, and they will assist you in locating one that is truly authentic. Various hotels and inn’s often gain publicity and added business from advertising the fact that their establishments are haunted.
The Cashtown Inn, built in 1797 was the scene of many deaths during the Civil War. The current owners make no effort to hide this fact and advertise such specials as “Ghosts of Gettysburg Weekend Investigation Package with MARK NESBITT and his Investigative Team,” where guests can actually attend a ghostly investigation. During “Catch the Spirits Weekend,” guests receive special tours of the Inn, including the basement, and learn about the ghostly happenings in the area.