Haunted Homes: Ghosts and the Supernatural Affect Real Estate Purchases

Disclosure is one of the tricky parts of putting real estate up for sale. Whether you’re selling your family home or some other piece of residential property, you have to be sure that you know everything about the property that you should disclose to buyers. These details usually involve structural damage or outstanding financial obligations attached to the property.
But did you know that you should also disclose if your house is inhabited by the supernatural? How can ghosts and other spooky stuff affect your real estate?

Stigmatized Property
A recent survey of people all over the United States uncovered that 45 percent of Americans believe ghosts are real. An equal number also believe in the existence of demons. This means almost half of your prospective buyers could be more than a little apprehensive of moving into a property.

Although there are companies that buy houses in Tucson,Arizona and offer reasonable prices for such a property, your market is still narrower. When the reputation of a piece of real estate lowers its market potential, it’s known as a stigmatized property.

Stigmatized properties come in many varieties. Primary are properties where violent deaths have occurred, also known as murder stigma. Homes associated with criminal activities other than homicide are another type. Both these types of property are shunned by buyers. Property that attracts too much unwanted attention, such as those used in famous movies or used to be the homes of celebrities, are stigmatized as well.

There are different legislations in every state regulating what you must disclose to buyers and what could be left unsaid. For example, in the state of California, sellers must disclose murder or suicide that happened on the premises within the last three years.

But why should you disclose if your house is haunted? The very subject came up decades ago in a court case that resulted in what is now known as the Ghostbusters Ruling.

The Ghostbusters Ruling
The case is designated as Stambovsky v. Ackley. The property in question involves a house that was owned by Ackley in Nyack, New York. She claimed poltergeists haunted her home and caused enough of a stir to have the haunting reported three times on local publications. Her house even became part of a walking tour.

When Stambovsky made an offer on the property, neither Ackley nor her broker mentioned the claims of the supernatural attached to the house. Stambovsky was not a local and had never heard of the house’s reputation. When he did learn of the claim, he filed to negate his contract of sale, claiming Ackley had misrepresented the property.

Why did Stambovsky object to buying an allegedly haunted house? By his own admission, Stambovsky didn’t believe in the claim, but other people do. The house’s reputation for being haunted could affect its resale value, something Ackley hadn’t told her buyer. The courts allowed Stambovsky to withdraw from his contract of sale by the courts.

Although there is no legal obligation to tell people whether your house is haunted or not, the Ghostbusters Ruling demonstrates what a poor move withholding that information can be. So when you put your property on the market, remember to tell your buyers if they should be wary of unseen housemates.

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