Haunted Real Estate

Are you looking for or selling a house with a little extra atmosphere? Would you like the feeling of having a permanent unseen house guest? Some people, perhaps someone like you, actually want to buy a house that is haunted.

So how do you go about trying to find a haunted house for sale, or sell your own house that has a resident ghost? When house hunting, how do you find a house that comes with a ghost, and if you’re selling a haunted home do you have to openly divulge that information to everyone?

Hauntings fall into a shadowy area of disclosure, in part because there’s typically little or no solid proof that the ghost exist, and only “facts” have to be disclosed. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a “don’t ask/don’t tell” state regarding hauntings in houses for sale. You have to specifically ask the agent/seller if there is paranormal activity in the house, and they have to tell you what they know. But if you don’t ask, they don’t have to offer it up front.

The law in MA, Chapter 294 of the Acts of 1998, An act further regulating the disclosure of certain information in real estate transactions states: Be it enacted by the Creepy House with LightningSenate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:  SECTION 1. Chapter 93 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section: – Section 108. The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction, except as provided in this section. “Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following: (a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling; (b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and (c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon. No cause of action shall arise or be maintained against a seller or lessor of real property or a real estate broker or salesman, by statute or at common law, for failure to disclose to a buyer or tenant that the real property is or was psychologically impacted. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions of this section shall not authorize a seller, lessor or real estate broker or salesman to make any misrepresentation of fact or false statement.

Although it took place in the State of New York, it’s worth looking at the most famous court case on the subject – Stambovsky v. Ackley (572 N.Y.S.2d 672 NY App. Div. 1991), regarding the sale of a magnificent Victorian mansion at 1 Laveta Place in Nyack, NY . The sale was contested after the Stambovsky family made an earnest payment of $32,500 on the $650,000 home. Even though the house was clearly spooky at first sight, the couple was from out of town and did not know about its reputation. For a long time, the sellers had promoted the home as haunted, had a write up in Reader’s Digest, and had featured it on a haunted walking tour of the city. When the sellers chose to sell the house they stopped promoting it as haunted.

Once the couple learned of the house’s reputation, they tried to back out of the deal and get their deposit money back. The owner refused to cancel the sale or return the down payment, so the Stambovsky’s took the seller to court and lost, only to win with a narrow margin of 3-2 in appellate court, after the court found that by deliberately fostering the belief that the house was haunted, the seller had to, by law, disclose that the house was the psychological impacted.

Some great links for more information on haunted real estate:

Ghost Removal Solutions and Housecleaning: http://www.moonslipper.com/