Halloween is just around the corner and with everyone feeling a bit spooky, Zillow has come up with useful information for real estate agents who’re facing the prospect of trying to sell a haunted home.
The good news is, from the seller’s perspective, in most cases they won’t have to say boo about it.
Zillow’s state-by-state analysis found that just four U.S. states – namely New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Minnesota - actually have real estate disclosure laws that stipulate sellers must inform buyers of any potential paranormal activity on their property. And even then the rules are pretty lax.
New York state probably has the strictest rules in place. There, it’s possible that the courts could annul a home sale “if the seller creates and perpetuates a reputation that the house is haunted and then takes unfair advantage of a buyer's ignorance of the home's ghostly reputation.”
As for New Jersey, the most important rule there is that sellers must tell buyers that a property could be haunted, but only if they’re asked. Don’t ask and you don’t get, apparently.
While many U.S. states have statutes that say any property facts which could cause a stigma or psychological impact do not need to be disclosed, Massachusetts and Minnesota are the only ones to specifically mention paranormal and supernatural activity. Again, sellers do not need to disclose if this is the case.
Other states do have laws that don’t mention ghosts, but rather, the disclosure of a death on the property. For instance in California, sellers must disclose all deaths on the property within the last three years. They must do the same in Alaska, but only for deaths within the last 12 months. South Dakota sellers on the other hand, only need to disclose if a murder was committed on their property at any time in the past.
Things are less rigid in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Carolina, where sellers are only required to disclose a death on the property if they’re asked.