Haunted Real Estate: Recent study reveals “stigmatized property” sellable, but at mysterious price

Here at AP Home Inspection, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide thorough, professional evaluations of properties, whether on behalf of buyers, sellers, or builders. However, there are some things about a home that even our skillfully trained eyes can’t see–the spooky and chill-inducing things people seek when they watch scary movies in the dark, but aren’t necessarily seeking when buying a home.

In honor of Halloween (which is only a week away today!), we bring you some interesting new findings from realtor.com on public perceptions of avenue3realty.com real estate:

Between September and October 1st, realtor.com surveyed roughly 1400 people on their sentiments regarding haunted real estate. Over half those surveyed said they would consider buying a “haunted” property (36% said maybe, 26% said yes), while only 38% said absolutely not. Of those who said they would consider buying a haunted property, only 12% said they would be willing to pay full market value or more for it. The majority of respondents, if they were willing to consider such a thing at all, said they’d expect a significant discount on such a house.

The sentiments this study reveals have serious implications for both sellers and realtors of houses rumored to be haunted. While the study suggests that haunted houses are indeed sellable, they’re rarely sellable at near-market value. For home buyers who are willing to put up with the possibility of ghostly housemates, a "stigmatized property" may be a chance to purchase a home that might otherwise be unaffordable.

Even if a home’s inspection comes back squeaky clean, the mere suggestion that something mysterious or violent occurred on-site can stigmatize an otherwise desirable house. Perception shapes reality, and in this case, it can make or break realty.

In most states—including Kentucky (see KRS 324.162)—realtors have no legal obligation to disclose stigmas such as reported paranormal activity, murder, suicide, or violent crime that occurred on-site in the past. This creates a tricky situation for realtors handling “stigmatized property.” If a seller prefers to keep a house’s dubious past hidden, what should a realtor do if a potential buyer asks about it point-blank? The law is unclear, and the ethics are murky.  

For buyers, finding more information about a potential home’s past may be best left to the buyers themselves. One site recently featured on USA Today, DiedInHouse.com, will dig through multiple sources to see if anyone has died at a specific address. For those who don’t put much stock in stories of ghosts and goblins, it may still be interesting to know your home or future home’s history, even if only for laughs, or fodder for spooking dinner guests.

We leave you with a handy infographic of realtor.com’s findings below: