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Spooky New Research Shows 60% of Americans Would Buy a Haunted House

By Thomas O'Shaughnessy | October 28, 2020

As October comes to a close, makeshift graveyards and somber figures invade our streets and front yards. There are no doubts about it: Halloween is almost here. Like many other 2020 events, the festivities may look a little different this year.

About 58% of Americans are planning to participate in Halloween celebrations this year, marking a notable decrease compared to previous years. Many parades, costume parties, and other activities have been canceled throughout the country due to COVID-19 concerns. However, there is one aspect where Americans' enthusiasm for what many see as their favorite holiday, does not damper. Many have turned to all-out decorating their home as a safe, family-friendly alternative in the absence of trick-or-treating and haunted rides.

Does it mean that Americans are comfortable sharing their homes year-round with a ghost or two? Not quite. You are not the only one who would think twice before signing on the dotted line for your dream San Diego property or Colorado mountain cabin if you knew ahead of time it was haunted.  Studies show that there is a significant stigma attached to haunted houses.

Paranormal activity may make selling your home more complicated

If you think your house may be haunted, you are not alone. Most Americans (70%) believe in the supernatural. In addition, nearly 1 in 4 people claim they have lived in a haunted house before, with millennials 2.1 times more likely than baby boomers to report their spooky experience.

These supernatural roommates manifest themselves in different ways, but there is also a generational gap in how responders experienced their presence. Just over half (52%) of baby boomers who have lived in a haunted house report having seen a ghost, versus 44% of millennials. 

The younger generation, however, is significantly more likely to report seeing strange shadows around the house (43% of millennials versus 17% of baby boomers), seeing items move on their own (43% of millennials versus 28% of baby boomers), or getting an eerie feeling from certain rooms (47% of millennials versus 31% of baby boomers).

Despite how widespread haunted houses may be, most people are far from comfortable with these uninvited guests. Forty percent of respondents would not buy a haunted house under any circumstance. Unfortunately for them, though, it is likely they would find out too late about their spooky house guests. Nearly 70% of people reporting to have lived in a haunted house said they were unaware of any possible paranormal activity before moving in.

Unsurprisingly, home sellers are in no rush to advertise the likely presence of ghosts in their property for fear of — literally — scaring off potential buyers. Some states require sellers to disclose whether a violent death or homicide occurred on the property in recent years — in some areas, you will need to ask. However, state regulations regarding haunted houses are scarce.

Due to paranormal events' questionable nature, only four states directly address paranormal activity in their real estate disclosure laws. In New York, courts will rescind the sale if the seller (1) takes unfair advantage of the buyer's ignorance of the house's reputation [of paranormal activity] and (2) the seller herself creates and perpetuates that reputation. 

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the seller is required to answer truthfully about potential paranormal activity in the house but only when asked directly. In Massachusetts and Minnesota, paranormal and supernatural activities are mentioned explicitly as attributes that do not need to be disclosed.

Two-thirds of respondents think the government should require house sellers to disclose any haunting on the property. Still, property owners think otherwise. About 45% of those surveyed would only reveal the house is haunted if required by law, but 9% would keep any haunted happenings to themselves, regardless of the law. After all, disclosing that the house you're selling is haunted may lead to you making seller concessions to keep the buyer, which would cause you to either spend more money than you planned or lose money on the sale price of the home.

Haunted houses are not necessarily a deal-breaker

So, will selling your haunted house turn into a nightmare of its own? Not necessarily: 64% of millennials and 55% of baby boomers who took part in the study say that they would be willing to purchase a house despite knowing it may be haunted. However, they may require something in exchange when comparing a place that may be haunted to one free of ghosts. 

Buyers may prefer the haunted house if it is cheaper than its alternative (73% of respondents), if they are convinced the spirits are friendly (58%) or if it is located in a safer neighborhood (49%). If you want to sell your haunted property, now may be the time to boost your property value with some exterior improvements to make it as attractive to potential buyers as possible. This could be something as small as a fresh coat or paint or as major as a remodeled kitchen.

Finding out after the fact that they are sharing their abode with supernatural residents is not a deal-breaker, either. Only 1 out of 4 people would move out immediately after finding out their new home is haunted. The others would attempt to clean the house with smudging (33%) or exorcise the home (23%). They may also try to get on the good side of the ghosts by attempting to make contact with them (19%) or to make the home more comfortable for them (17%).

At the end of the day, the possibility that the property may be haunted is at the bottom of the list of homebuyers' concerns: 93% of respondents find home repairs a lot scarier than the potential presence of ghosts. Buying a fixer-upper is not for the faint of heart, as mold (68%), foundation issues (64%), the presence of termites (61%), and asbestos (61%) are all more concerning than ghosts for home buyers. Although they can serve as a tool to negotiate after a home inspection, undisclosed home repairs are often extremely expensive for homeowners.

With the real estate market heating up, the inventory for new properties is scarce. If the ghouls and goblins in your neighborhood make you wish for Halloween year-round, buying a haunted house may not be such a bad idea. After all, you can fix most damages to a property by applying for a loan for house-flipping, for example. Getting rid of ghosts, on the other hand, can be trickier. Nevertheless, think about all the anecdotes you could gather for your next Halloween party!

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