Is this House Haunted? Stigmatized Properties

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group S-96414

Is this House Haunted?     Stigmatized Properties

Properties that have been the site of a murder, suicide death or a haunting have long been considered "stigmatized".  

As a Seller are you required to disclose this known fact to a potential purchaser?   As a purchaser do you feel you should be told of such an event?  haunted house

A conversation this evening with friends found us all over the board on this issue.  Clearly some feel it is no big deal while others feel the opposite.  

This is Massachusetts.   Arguably the oldest community in America.    We have lots of old homes and if we remember correctly, at the very least, many of these old homes hosted  "calling hours" for the dead.    Not as dramatic as a murder for sure, but still for some an unusual and uncomfortable situation.   It puts us in a very interesting situation.

So, that being said...this brings up a few questions. Would you consider purchasing one of these properties?   Does it affect the price your are willing to pay?  As a Seller are you obligated to offer up this information to a prospective purchaser?     How about your Realtor?   What can you expect of her/him?

The reality is that Massachusetts Realtors are not obligated to disclose this type of information to you.    A law enacted in 1998 is clear on the issue.     

There are other properties that may be considered stigmatized where other rules apply (including HIV status  of former or current occupants),

but for this conversation,  as a Buyer, if it is an important you know that someone was murdered or committed suicide in a property, or that a ghost resides there, then you should ask questions pertaining to this type of event.   Your questions will trigger a duty to disclose.   Kind of weird, I know, and it is sort of like my Doc, a very cool guy, tells me that our health care is in our own hands.   We should investigate, ask and question.   The same should be said for purchasing a property. 

You should and can rely on your agent for sure, but ultimately you should be looking out for yourself as well.  

Back to the question.    Is this house haunted and will you buy it?  

Comments (74)

Toby Barnett
KW North Sound - Marysville, WA
Toby Barnett

That question is probably more common on the east coast than here out west especially with the deeper history. I would suggest a EVp session during a walk through or inspection to see if anything comes up. Even though brokers do not have to disclose or provide information on deaths in the homes, a EVP session could quickly elivate any concerns a buyer may have :)


Nov 13, 2012 01:42 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

If I happened to be the buyer, I'd want to know. All the ghosts in my life have been friendly ones, but if a house was home to an unfriendly ghost, that would be a different matter.

Nov 13, 2012 01:51 AM
Mike&Marie Edwards
Estes Village properties & Plains Real Estate in Greely/Windsor - Fort Collins, CO
"We Bring You Home To Colorado"

What an interesting topic! We also do not need to disclose but would rather if it were recent

Nov 13, 2012 02:40 AM
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate

So do you walk up to the neighbors door & ask is it haunted?  Ridiculous questions gets the door slammed in buyers faces. 

Nov 13, 2012 03:00 AM
Sonsie Conroy
I serve buyers and sellers everywhere in San Luis Obispo County - San Luis Obispo, CA
Energetic, Enthusiastic, Knowledgeable Realtor

Where I live, there is a home way out in the boonies (basically off the grid) that was the scene of two murders that made headlines across the country. The property was eventually deeded to a local nature preservation organization, which wanted to sell it to finance other ventures.

The property is situated on 140 acres, in a gorgeous canyon close to town, and has various livable buildings on the premises, but it's been on the market for something like three years because it is necessary to disclose this situation to prospective buyers and they all have backed out despite the extremely below-market price on the property. I don't know whether it will ever sell, at this rate.

Nov 13, 2012 03:38 AM
Carol-Ann Palmieri
RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group - Franklin, MA
"Cal" the Real Estate Gal

Thank you all for your comments and opinions.     It has been interesting hearing what you all have to say.  Thank you!

Nov 13, 2012 03:52 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

I would want to know - and I would avoid buying a house if it had negative energy. But, we also do NOT have to disclose something of this nature. If I did know about it - I would tell my client. They have a right to decide for themselves.

By the way, we lived in a house with bad marital record -  learned, after moving in that the previous 2 couples have split up. I felt that my husband and I were more at odds with one another in that house - we sold it to a very nice couple in 2006. I was just visiting a neighbor and told me the new owners are now divorced - after 20 plus years of marriage.

Not sure what to make of it, but it seems eerie to me.

Nov 13, 2012 04:09 AM
Beth and Richard Witt
Long Island Cash Home Buyer - Center Moriches, NY
Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940

We recently had the Amityville Horror sold for over a million bucks... so I guess some folks love the drama...

Nov 13, 2012 04:42 AM
Nan Jester
Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery

Again, let the buyer beware. This is where a couple of well-placed questions will answer questions that MAY matter to a buyer.

Nov 13, 2012 07:03 AM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I could never understand why the significance of a gruesome or deadly event will negatively impact a sale of a property.

The reality of life is our certain mortality and millions die everyday, so why is that a stigma? It's all about the reality of a persons perspective to use a mortal event as an excuse to defer any action. Just my opinion, so don't you agree or do you really think it's a legitimate excuse not to buy? 

Nov 13, 2012 07:43 AM
Carol-Ann Palmieri
RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group - Franklin, MA
"Cal" the Real Estate Gal

Hi All.  Thanks for the most interesting comments.    Can you imagine selling the Amityville house?  and, Debb,  I have always thought that houses have their own karma... It seems so strange to me that all our states fall down differently on the issue.   Thank you all for making your thoughts known.   

Nov 13, 2012 08:41 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Carol-Ann,

My vote is always disclosure, if you know. The buyers will find it out from the neighbors in short order anyhow. For your historic properties, some events may no longer be remembered as vividly as in the past. I own a property on what is colloquially known as "gallows hill." There has not been a hanging there in the past 200 years, that I know of, but if the hill could talk, who knows, what it would have to tell.

Nov 13, 2012 10:52 AM
Short Sales, Foreclosure & Bank Owned Real Estate

I agree that full disclosure always is better... Great post!!

Nov 13, 2012 12:47 PM
Brian Kuhns
Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber - Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne Real Estate by Brian Kuhns

I have a buyer who claims to know whether a home is haunted or not the moment they walk into a home...has cost us some time eliminating a couple of nice houses but ultimately they have to be comfortable with their new home

Nov 13, 2012 10:22 PM
Karen Eddinger
RE/MAX On The Lake - Seattle, WA
Relocating to Seattle?

I'm licensed in 2 states that both do not require disclosure of a murder on the premises.  Before we start deciding to disclose, we need to check with our clients to get their authorization.  Here's another good reason (as if we needed more) not to be a dual agent.  I happen to be a believer in the power of energetic patterns in a house, so the earlier account of the house that broke up marriages totally made sense to me.

Nov 14, 2012 09:33 AM
Brian Park
Park Realty Investments - Murray, UT

Yes, the law is the law but I prefer to disclose to buyers because of the reasons cited and I believe it to be a material fact whether the legislature of my state agrees or not.

Twice I disclosed ghosts, why, because I saw them which was truly something I didn't believe in prior to my first experience. Both were friendly and non-threatening but the sellers insisted I keep my mouth shut, I told them to find another broker and gave them the name of a good attorney in case the buyers didn't like the information being withheld. Both sold with disclosure, both buyers happy.

As one poster stated property with very bad vibes. I had a newly married friend move into a home and then the fighting started. We went over to visit with a second couple and withing an hour 6 good friends were ready to kill each other but as soon as you would leave the property every thing would be back to nice.  He did very well in business and after losing one renter after another, he donated it as a burn house to the fire department. He then salted the land after the burn debris was removed, followed by a sprinkling of holy water by his priest. He then let the county have it by not paying the property taxes. I don't know if it was ever built on again. Maybe one of these days I will be back there and check it out for fun.

Another case that wasn't disclosed was the attempted murder of two parents by a mentally deranged son who was committed to a mental hospital and when he was released years later where was the first place he headed to, you got it but the new owner wasn't the type to play games and just shot the "cured " son holding a big knife from the kitchen and telling to get out and attempting to slash them, problem solved.

Nov 15, 2012 02:14 AM
Sylvia Jonathan
Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties - Irvine, CA
Broker Associate, SFR

If a house experienced a much publicized violent crime it could be uncomfortable for new owners simply because of a never-ending stream of nosy visitors congregating outside (remember OJ Simpson's house?)

As for disclosing, Realtors and sellers MUST disclose a death in California if it happened within last 3 years. But we all know that the neighbors will be over first opportunity with the gossip no matter how far back it was. My credo is: disclose to the buyer, and the one who does not care, will buy the house anyway.

What do you all think about houses that have been foreclosed on multiple times like a daisy chain from one owner to the next? Coincidence or bad vibe?

Nov 15, 2012 08:00 PM
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

Carol-Ann, In PA, it is not something the seller has to disclose, but I have had two buyer clients in the past year that have specifically asked about para-normal activity, and I've had to ask the seller's agent to find out for me.  Fortunately, in both cases, there was nothing to report.  I really feel that at some point, that question will appear on the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement. 

Jan 19, 2013 07:28 PM
Carol-Ann Palmieri
RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group - Franklin, MA
"Cal" the Real Estate Gal

Thank you all for the very interesting comments.    Syliva, I do think homes have karma and it appears by reading the other comments others feel the same way.    

Jan 19, 2013 10:05 PM
Jul 15, 2013 04:40 PM

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