With low interest rates, now may be a good time to consider buying that haunted house you’ve always dreamed about. Extroverts suffering from the isolation imposed by the pandemic might be able to find built-in companionship, guaranteed to be COVID-negative. For introverts, the allure of a candlelit property on a windswept moor may prove irresistible. Regardless of your personal motivation, discovering the haunted backstory of a property may provide the buyer with an edge during price negotiations. But how does one find such a property?
Consider your constraints
Among the considerations for many home buyers are commuting distance to their jobs, the reputation of area schools, and the property tax burden for the locality. In addition, the property itself must meet certain minimum requirements to offer the lifestyle buyers are trying to achieve.
Finding property that meets these practical needs first will narrow down the choices and save you time during the in-depth research on the properties.
Will they tell me if the property is haunted?
Depending on the local laws, a death in the house or other similar event are not considered a “Material Fact” and do not have to be disclosed by the seller. While a haunted house falls under the category of stigmatized property, in many states in the US, it’s not mandatory to disclose a stigma like a murder, suicide, or crime—or paranormal activity. In the UK, the Property Misdescriptions Act of 1991 makes it an offense for sellers to make false or misleading statements. This Act puts the onus on the buyer to ask the right questions.
As of 2019, only four states in the US included paranormal activity in their real estate disclosure laws: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Minnesota. While New York and New Jersey require sellers to truthfully tell buyers if they have experienced paranormal activity on the property, Massachusetts and Minnesota statutes state that sellers need not disclose a haunting. In Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and South Carolina, sellers must disclose a death on the property only if asked. California law requires deaths that occurred on the property within the past three years be disclosed, while Alaska requires disclosure if a death is within one year. South Dakota only requires disclosure of homicides.
New York’s disclosure laws were impacted by the “Ghostbuster Ruling” of 1991, a frequently cited ruling that set legal precedent. The buyers of a home sued when they learned that they had not been told by the previous owner that their house was well-known to be haunted. Three out of five justices from an appellate division of the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in this case of fraudulent misrepresentation. The ruling was justified based on the claim that a house inspection would not detect a haunting, therefore this was not a case of the buyer not exercising due care. The justices concluded that failing to disclose a house’s reputation may be grounds for contract rescission. The plaintiff’s case was also helped by the fact that the defendant had been public about the home’s ghosts, with stories featured in the Reader’s Digest and the local newspaper. She was just mum about it when it came to selling the house.
[It is not clear how the laws would apply if after being assured by the seller that the house is haunted, the buyer finds their new house is not haunted or only haunted to a small degree. The buyer may have to prove that s/he is sufficiently sensitive to detect paranormal activity. The seller will likely insist that s/he is a better medium than the buyer.]
Bottom line? Caveat emptor. Check your local disclosure laws and ask the right questions if you want to buy a haunted house. Also, be sure that your medium skills are up to the task. Not all hauntings will be equally active.
Can I do any research on my own?
The first check is an easy one. DiedInHouse.com is a web-based service that performs the initial research on the property for a small fee. In addition to telling you whether someone died on the property, you will also learn cause of death (if available), information on the deceased, fire incidents, if registered sex offenders lived at the property, house history information, and whether anyone ever cooked meth in your future home. All useful pieces of information, but note that this service only has data for valid US addresses.
Search the land deeds or contact the local historical society to find out details about the land. Knowing if the land is the site of a former burial ground or battlefield is helpful in determining the likelihood of haunting. Just be careful and recognize that while the grounds might be haunted, the house may be devoid of activity, and vice versa.
Talk to the neighbors. Neighbors usually love to gossip, so while the seller may be tight-lipped, the neighbors might be happy to fill you in about any stories related to the property.
Check the buy, sell, and repair history of the house. If the house has been sold many times over the years and lost value, it may be haunted. However, former owners desiring to live in a haunted house will have longer histories in the home, so don’t be discouraged. An unusual amount of repairs to the house may be indicative of a haunting, particularly poltergeist activity, but a more prosaic explanation may be that the house is just a money pit. Again, ask the right questions.
Is it a good idea to buy a house next to a cemetery?
A house next to a cemetery is delightful regardless of its haunting status. Your search for such a property may be aided by The Geography of the Dead, an inventory of 144,847 graveyards and cemeteries in the contiguous United States.
While purchasing a home near a cemetery may increase the likelihood of supernatural visitors, there are several caveats that you need to consider before making your purchase. Though mostly quiet, funeral processions, earth movers, visitors, and overall maintenance may create noise on occasion. Also, toxic chemicals used to embalm bodies can leach through the soil and enter groundwater.
On the plus side, homes situated next to graveyards are on average 12% less expensive than comparable homes in the area.
I hope that you will enjoy your new home and spectral housemate(s). Certainly, drop me a note in the comments and tell me about your haunted house. I look forward to hearing from you!
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By darksouls1 – https://pixabay.com/en/house-cemetery-haunted-house-2187170/ archive copy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57689729
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Soul Search, Soul Scent, Soul Sign, and Soul Seek novels of supernatural suspense, have been described as Marley & Me meets The Sixth Sense. Readers have praised these novels for the very human stories behind the hauntings that create unexpected plot twists, drama, and even moments of humor. The Zackie Stories are available for purchase as ebook, audiobook, and paperback on Amazon and Audible, and free on Kindle Unlimited.
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