Being that it's Halloween I thought we could take a light hearted look at the dangers of buying and selling a haunted house.
The issues around Haunted Houses really fall into two categories. The first category is the very practical "Is The House Actually Haunted?" This is somewhat uncharted territory as there is no real examples of what would happen if, say, we could somehow prove that an actual ghost existed in your home. It would be interesting to find what the outcome of a court case that involved the troubling experience of a ghost terrorizing a family, breaking dishes and causing all sorts of havoc. I assume that they might award the buyer some form of compensation from the seller if the buyer could somehow prove the existence of the ghost and that the seller knew about the ghost and neglected to disclose this to the buyer. It would be difficult due to the fact that ghosts aren't actually real!
The second category is the more commonly visited issue. This has less to do with the actual haunting of the house or with the house or property itself and all to do with the reputation of the home. If the common belief of the community is that your house is haunted, or has other non-functional problems, they refer to these homes as Stigmatized. A stigma is difficult to define but you can imagine some, perhaps a murder took place in the home or a suicide. Some cultures really frown on this and consequently some won't live in homes where these things have occurred.
Other stigmas include ex-brothels or drug dens. These types of stigmas have a more practical set of problems. Should an ex-customer, who is unaware that the old owners have moved, return; there can be very serious issues that come up and we have seen houses get burglarized or vandalized as a result. This is where disclosure should be made so as to ensure the safety of the new owners.
As for Haunting, it's a little less clear about the actual danger if any. The value of the home may be called into question, however, if everyone in the community is afraid of the house or property then you may see a decrease in value from the average or maybe less demand for that kind of house. There is an argument to be made, however, about the novelty of such a stigma might actually increase the value or at least the appeal to some of living in a house with that kind of notoriety.
The onus of determining Stigmatization will fall completely onto the buyer as in order to determine that there is a consequence of such a reputation then it should be easily discovered with a small amount of investigation. Simply put - if it's such a big deal then it should be easy to find out. Make sure you are working with a Realtor that you trust and is willing to make the inquiries necessary or knows the area really well.
If you have any questions about this or any other Real Estate issues give me a call 604-813-5130.
To you and your family have a safe and happy Halloween. Boo!