Deathly Disclosure and Haunted Real Estate

Has a client ever asked you if the property they were viewing was haunted? Have you ever sold a haunted house? Did you disclose the fact that there might be an other-worldly resident in the home? In the spirit of Halloween, we dug up disclosure laws for haunted home sales.

Before, if someone had the feeling there was a ghost in their home, it would be kept a secret. Now, a haunted house or building is considered “psychologically impacted,” along with homes that had a murder, suicide or one that was used as a drug house, and some states require that psychologically impacted property be disclosed during viewing.

Many people don’t believe in ghosts or paranormal activity, but with some states’ disclosure laws, there is some reality to the fact that certain properties have exceptional experiences within them. For example, in New York it is against the law to sell a haunted house without a disclosure. You could face a lawsuit if undisclosed paranormal activity causes problems for the buyers once they move in. California law requires a seller to reveal a death occurrence at the property if it happened within the previous three years. Other states don’t require you to disclose anything that won’t physically affect the house. So if the ghost isn’t messing with the structure, the roof or the plumbing, he’s alright to go undisclosed.

But buyers and sellers beware – even if state law doesn’t mandate disclosure, it may be a good idea to be upfront about any ghostly attributes of a property to avoid lawsuits. Buyers have the right to inquire about whether or not a house is haunted. And there are always those who are in for a thrill and want to live in a real life haunted house. Happy Halloween!

Have you ever had a client ask if a home was haunted? Have any good real estate ghost stories?

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  • RE_Insider

    From one of our readers:

    We had a home where the seller felt that there were paranormal events
    happening and that she felt the presence of some spirit in the home.
    This was before formal disclosures, and we put it into the listing
    information. We sold the home and had a great number of showings
    because of the paranormal events.

  • RCinfaith

    Can of worms! If we go that way then, in my opinion, we are opening up a vortex of time consuming and possibly expensive issues. What if a seller discloses all and after COE a buyer decides the house is haunted and sues the seller for non-. disclosure? Prove the haunting – Can’t. Disclose material facts, not feelings, emotions or thoughts. The only gain in mandating is to attorneys willing to take the case and Ghost Busters!

  • RE_Insider

    From another reader, Stephen R. De Sena: We had a home where the seller felt that there were paranormal events happening and that she felt the presence of some spirit in the home. This was before formal disclosures, and we put it into the listing information. We sold the home and had a great number of showings because of the paranormal events.