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New Research Finds Nearly Half of Americans Claim to Have Lived in a Haunted House

By Thomas O'Shaughnessy | October 29, 2021

Could you live in a haunted house? According to a recent survey of 1,000 Americans by Real Estate Witch, 44% of Americans believe they've lived in a haunted house, and 73% say they’d be willing to buy a home with ghosts in a competitive housing market.

A Majority of Americans Believe in the Supernatural

During the pandemic, awareness of paranormal activity may have increased as people spent more time in their homes. Seventy-six percent of Americans reported believing in supernatural events, up from 44% in 2019, according to Real Estate Witch’s annual survey. 

For many, their belief stems from spooky firsthand experiences in their homes. Survey respondents attributed these occurrences to:

  • Strange noises (64%)
  • Feelings of being touched or watched (60%)
  • Strange shadows around the home (59%)
  • Ghost sightings (56%)
  • Cold or hot spots in the house (55%)
  • Certain rooms with an eerie or haunted feeling (54%)
  • Objects moving or levitating on their own (50%)
  • Previous owners disclosed the haunting (48%)

Malfunctioning systems, settling foundations, moaning pipes, and small animals may also cause strange sensations. Still, survey respondents believed that the source of their unease was a ghostly presence. 

Most Would Consider Buying a Haunted House

Under the right circumstances, survey respondents said they’d buy a haunted house. Fifteen percent said they’d actually prefer a haunted house. 

What could cause buyers to purchase haunted homes? For one, a lower price. Sixty-three percent of Americans said they’d buy a haunted house for a discount, 57% would choose a haunted house in a safer neighborhood, and 53% would purchase a haunted house as long as the spirits were friendly. 

Other reasons to consider buying a haunted home included:

  • Modern renovations and appliances (41%)
  • A larger yard or more land (39%)
  • More square footage (38%)
  • A better school district (37%)
  • Closer to amenities (28%)

Remember, owning a house — even if it's haunted — comes with several tax benefits that can make tax season a lot less frightening. 

When Ghosts Are Deal Breakers

Friendly ghosts are one thing, but some phenomena are too unnerving for some homeowners. Many respondents said they’d move away immediately if:

  • Objects moved or levitated on their own (45%)
  • They experienced the feeling of being touched or watched (42%)
  • Their children suddenly behaved strangely in the home (40%)
  • Someone committed a serious crime nearby (38%)
  • They saw a ghost (37%)
  • They learned about a crime previously committed in the home (34%)
  • Their pet began acting strangely in a specific area of the house (33%)
  • They heard strange noises (32%)
  • They felt unexplained hot or cold spots (28%)
  • They learned of previous hauntings without experiencing any supernatural events (27%)

What REALLY Scares Homebuyers

Some homeownership problems are far more concerning than ghosts. Buyers are less likely to pass on a home if it's haunted than if the house is:

  • Within a mile of a waste management facility (48%)
  • The scene of a violent crime (47%)
  • A former meth lab (45%)
  • Within a mile of a prison (44%)
  • Next to a cemetery (39%)
  • Dirty or cluttered (35%)
  • Within a mile of a busy highway (34%)
  • Near the scene of a serious crime (34%)
  • At an address featuring “666” (33%)
  • The setting of a pornographic film (28%)
  • Where someone died of natural causes (26%)

Even homes in a prime location can frighten their owners. Only 5% of Americans said ghosts were the scariest aspect of homeownership. Instead, most people are afraid of:

  • ​​Mold (57%)
  • Foundation issues (56%)
  • Termites (54%)
  • Asbestos (54%)
  • Water damage (54%)
  • Pests such as cockroaches, mice, and spiders (53%)
  • A leaky roof (53%)
  • Outdated electrical system (51%)
  • Lead paint (51%)
  • A leaky basement (48%)
  • Old plumbing (47%)
  • Radon (44%)
  • A broken furnace (41%)
  • Broken central air conditioning (41%)

Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid these problems when buying a home because nearly every state requires disclosing material defects. In addition, buyers can protect themselves by commissioning an inspection and following up if problems arise.

Despite fearing floods, fires, and other safety hazards, many Americans lack basic safety features in their homes. For example, 66% don’t have a radon detector, 45% lack an alarm system, 40% don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, 38% lack a fire extinguisher, and 29% don’t have smoke detectors.

Disclosing a Haunted House Usually Isn't Required

In nearly all states, sellers have no obligation to disclose paranormal activity. Some states require disclosure only if the activity is well-known because it could impact property values. Other states only mandate disclosure if the buyer asks. 

Real Estate Witch’s study found that most sellers would not disclose hauntings to potential buyers:

  • 10% of respondents claimed they wouldn't disclose hauntings even if required by law.
  • 32% would only tell prospective buyers if the law required it.
  • 20% would only do so if buyers asked them directly.

Just 38% said they’d inform potential buyers about ghosts, even if it wasn't required. When selling a haunted home, hire a good listing agent or even a real estate attorney to help you navigate legal requirements and stay out of trouble.

How to Avoid Buying a Haunted House

Although sellers in most states don’t have to tell you if their home is haunted, you can protect yourself by researching and choosing property carefully: 

  • Google the area’s history. Is the neighborhood on a former battlefield or burial ground? 
  • Buy new construction. It's probably not inhabited by ghosts, unless it’s built on haunted ground.
  • Check disclosure laws in your state. For instance, California requires sellers to disclose deaths that occurred in the home within the last three years.
  • Ask the seller if the home is haunted. 
  • Check the property's sale history. If the sellers have been in the home for less than a year, there may be a job change or divorce in the works. Or the building could be driving them crazy. If the property has changed hands frequently, be careful.
  • Take a walk through the community, and ask neighbors about the house. 
  • Check, which reports deaths in the home, meth labs, criminal activity, sex offenders, and fire-related incidents.

If you're trying to sell, consider hiring a paranormal investigator to find and clear unwanted guests. It’s an extra cost of selling a home but probably worth it if the investigator succeeds.

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