Don’t want to buy a haunted house? Do your research
A few years ago, realtor Tara King was trying to sell a two-story house in the Homestead neighborhood of Centennial, a warm house in a red light district, she recalls. But it was not moving. What moved, however, was other things, like the kitchen cabinets, which would all open at once, and an unknown source of water that kept flooding the basement.
“These weird things just kept happening, and the salesman said, ‘Well, you know, we’ve been dealing with this the whole time we’ve been living here,’” King said. “So I brought in a psychic to clean the house and exorcise the ghost, and the house literally sold out in a week.”
A 2020 Realtor.com survey found that 13% of Americans think their homes are haunted, disturbed by strange noises, shadows, cold spots, strange feelings, and moving objects. About half of them knew or suspected it before they got into their boxes and have no plans to move. Still, most people would prefer to avoid the situation: almost two-thirds of respondents said they were unlikely to move into a house that could be haunted.
Still, making sure you don’t accidentally buy a home with unwanted occupants can be tricky.
In real estate jargon, these homes can be referred to as “stigmatized properties” or “psychologically affected properties”. Stigma follows a range of events, from everyday events (like the death of an elderly person in the home) to more gruesome events, like houses that were crime scenes. State laws vary depending on whether sellers must disclose these psychological impacts, with some extending specific details about paranormal activity.
Colorado law states that only property damage should be disclosed to potential buyers. It also means that a homeowner who suspects a house is haunted is not required to warn potential buyers, and real estate agents are not allowed to mention it.
“If the seller says, ‘I want to disclose this. I think it’s interesting or important or whatever, they’re welcome to disclose whatever they want, ”says Kelly Moye, Realtor at Compass and spokesperson for the Colorado Association of Realtors. “But as a listing agent, if I represent the seller and I know that something scary has happened in the house, or that it is haunted or someone has died there or something like that, so I’m not allowed to disclose it as it might impact their sale. . “
Moye had an ad in Boulder that the seller said was haunted (she didn’t want to hear any details) and she had to close the sale without mentioning it. It’s hard, she says, but the law is clear. Like King, she also took extra steps, having someone burn sage in the house to give the place a bit of a reset. She’s not sure if it works, she says, but “when you start getting feedback from buyers that the price is right, the house looks great, the condition is great, but it just doesn’t feel right. … [You start thinking] maybe something needs to be aired here.
Usually sellers know something is wrong, and rather than leaving a home on the market with its own stigma, they will ask for further action, King says. She asked for extra cleanings even after a bad divorce.
“It’s a plug-and-play solution, but it works,” says King.
People will also bury a statue of Saint Joseph (the patron saint of home buyers and sellers) upside down in the front yard or bring in church officials to banish evil spirits. King says she has also seen sales plummet because of these superstitions. Buyers with down payments on a $ 1.5 million house in suburban Denver, for example, learned from a neighbor that someone had committed suicide there. As a result, they withdrew from the sale just before the final visit, losing tens of thousands of dollars.
Just as buyers can view local schools and crime statistics, they can investigate past events in a home and decide if a traumatic event is significant. The diedinhouse.com website reviews death records, fires, meth labs, registered sex offenders, and nearby cemeteries for a fee. Housecreep.com also lists homes with “scary” stories (most of the properties listed in Denver are former underground drug labs).
High-profile suitcases come with their own luggage, like morbid tourists stopping to peek and take pictures. The Frederick House where Shanann Watts and her daughters Bella and Celeste lived, the subjects of the Netflix documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door, is empty two years later.
“Nobody’s going to buy this house,” King says, but that’s because the ensuing civil case gave the house a multimillion-dollar lien.
“What I’ve noticed in 30 years as a real estate agent is that buyers bring their own energy, and the house has its own energy, and a lot of times they connect really well. And if they don’t, then usually buyers don’t want to buy it, so it usually works on its own, ”says Moye. “Just because something happened in a house doesn’t mean it’s a bad house. … So I don’t think buyers necessarily have to be incredibly paranoid or crazy about it. But I think they should just follow their instincts, and if it feels good to come in, follow it, and if it doesn’t feel good to come in, maybe it isn’t for them.