Dancing Ghosts and Opening Doors

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with SunWest, REALTORS

I was teaching a class of prospective real estate agents a couple of years ago when I started a conversation about stigmatized properties.  Stigmatized properties are properties where events have occurred or were rumored to occur that didn't physically impact the property but might psychologically impact it.  These types of events include everything from a baby dying of infant sudden death syndrome to suicide to haunted houses. 

One of my students was very unconvinced about haunted houses.  "Ghosts don't exist," she said with her arms folded across her chest.  So I told my repertoire of haunted house stories but she still thought I was pulling the class' collective leg.

About a month later, she was back to take the cram exam for the state licensing test.  She had been following an agent around in the field learning the business first hand and proceeded to tell me this story. 

She and her mentor had gone on a listing presentation regarding a four-year old home and, naturally, asked the seller why he was selling.  He replied that he couldn't keep the upstairs doors closed.  "What?" they said.  He said that every time he closed all of the doors upstairs (bedrooms and bathrooms) in his two story home, they would come open.  He then demonstrated that by taking them upstairs, closing all the doors and then going back down stairs.  A couple of minutes later, they all went upstairs and all the doors were open.  He had concluded that the house was haunted and that was why he wanted to sell.  And, indeed, there seemed to be no other reason that the doors would swing open of their own accord.  This ghost evidently liked newer property.

Do ghosts exist?  When it comes to selling real estate, it doesn't make any difference.  If your buyers believe in ghosts, then they will want to know about the "automatically opening" doors.  If they don't believe in ghosts, the opening doors probably won't make any difference.  I have surveyed my classes over the years asking them this question.  "If I told you the house was haunted, would you still buy it?"  My informal survey revealed that about 50% of the population believes in ghosts and, therefore, would not buy the property even at a discount!

From a listing agent's standpoint, the question becomes whether or not to disclose the presence of ghosts to the showing agents and their clients.  This type of question is what I call a "broker's call."  Since there are no statutes (that I'm aware of) that mandate the disclosure of ghosts, it should be up to the broker who has the resulting liability to make that decision.

Before you decide, you should know that there is any number of lawsuits involving haunted houses.  Plaintiffs usually win when they are not told about the ghosts.  One New York case went all the way to the New York Supreme Court where the court decided that, yes, the seller should have told the buyer the house was haunted-a number of ghosts dressed in Revolutionary War clothing and having dances all the time.  And there are cases in which the buyer paid a premium for a "haunted" house and when they moved in the ghosts moved out and the buyer sued and won-no ghosts!

In my office, we disclose the ghosts and don't guarantee that they are there or not there but only that this is what the seller told us.  I love these haunted houses especially when I can talk the ghost into holding the open houses.

Comments (13)

Jese Gonzalez
The Real Estate Power Houses - El Paso, TX
The Real Estate Matchmaker

I would like to personally welcome you to the ActiveRain community!  This community has a wonderful atmosphere and you will find lots of helpful friendly people and useful information.  I just recently joine myself and I'm already loving this place! I often find something new and interesting when I read the new blogs.   

Active Rain is an excellent networking forum with a variety of interesting characters.  Expect to learn a lot and be entertained if you have an open mind.  The opportunities to learn, earn and network are absolutely incredible here on Activerain.   

 Welcome to the RAIN I look forward to reading your blogs

Jul 11, 2008 11:47 AM
Jese Gonzalez
The Real Estate Power Houses - El Paso, TX
The Real Estate Matchmaker

I would like to personally welcome you to the ActiveRain community!  This community has a wonderful atmosphere and you will find lots of helpful friendly people and useful information.  I just recently joine myself and I'm already loving this place! I often find something new and interesting when I read the new blogs.   

Active Rain is an excellent networking forum with a variety of interesting characters.  Expect to learn a lot and be entertained if you have an open mind.  The opportunities to learn, earn and network are absolutely incredible here on Activerain.   

 Welcome to the RAIN I look forward to reading your blogs

Jul 11, 2008 11:47 AM
Kim Sellers
Lake Arrowhead, CA Coldwell Banker - Lake Arrowhead, CA
Lake Arrowhead Realtor - BRE#01412099 - Lake Arrow

If you have to ask the question on whether to disclose, then you must disclose.

Jul 11, 2008 11:50 AM
Jane Wallace
HomeSmart Realty - Denver, CO
CRS | SRES, Denver Real Estate

I think it depends on what dimension you live in

Jul 11, 2008 11:55 AM
Kirk Westervelt
Van West Realty - Greenville, SC Realtor -Short Sale Expert! - Greenville, SC
Kirk Westervelt, Broker In Charge, Van West Realty - CDPE - Short Sale Agent - Home for Sale - Greenville, Simpsonvil...

Hi, welcome to Active Rain! I hope to see more of your blogs in the future. Learn from others, share your knowledge and experiences and enjoy yourself! Take care! ---Kirk.

Jul 11, 2008 05:04 PM
Crystal Corr
Keller Williams Greenville Central - Simpsonville, SC

Welcome to Active Rain. I Hope you will enjoy it and learn from it as much as I do. Look forward to more of your bloggs.

Jul 12, 2008 01:50 AM
Greg Steffens
Mountain Country Realty - Lake Arrowhead, CA

First post I've read about haunted houses on Active Rain!  Welcome to the community - looks like you're off to a great start...keep it up!

Jul 12, 2008 10:35 AM
Scott Magaw
The Bill Kennedy Team - Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC

I just wanted to welcome you to Active Rain! This is a great site for learning, as well as sharing. I learn just as much from the comments on blogs as I do from the blogs themselves.  Check out some blogs, join some groups, and write whatever's on your mind!  I look forward to reading some of your future posts.

Jul 12, 2008 04:27 PM
Lorena Westervelt
Van West Realty - Greenville, SC
Co-Founder/Co-Owner

Hello, welcome to Active Rain! This seems like a wonderful environment to network as well as learn from others. I hope you enjoy yourself and participate often in the Active Rain environment!

Jul 12, 2008 05:14 PM
Rick Sergison
EXP Realty of Canada Inc., Brokerage - Pickering, ON
Durham Region Real Estate Blog

I just stopped by to welcome you to Active Rain. I hope that you find it a great benefit to your business and that you see the value that I have also found here. I am from Charlottesville Virginia and using Active Rain has really increased my business!

My main blog on Active Rain is here: Charlottesville Real Estate Blog, not the link at the bottom of this post. 

I hope you will look into the many groups as there are some great group both local and broad based,.... 

enjoy!

Jul 13, 2008 09:09 AM
Tricia Jumonville
Bradfield Properties - Georgetown, TX
Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense

So, did you have any of those who, like me, when asked that question, would say, "Heck, yeah, I'd LOVE to buy a haunted house!"? 

 

 

Jul 14, 2008 06:33 AM
David Franklin Farkas
HouseHealing.com - Amherst, MA

Hi Tom...

I love these stories, since my specialty is clearing houses of ghosts, and other issues like historic events or traumas, the effects of underground water, ley line, power lines, etc. I work remotely so I've done this with properties all over the world.

Some houses that just wont' sell will move when they are cleared.

I don't understand how anyone can say they generically 'like' ghosts. Ghosts still have their personality from the life they have not yet completed and some are cute and fun but others are violent bullies, or starved for attention. In any case, the win-win is helping the ghost cross over. The ghost finishes thier life and the living are not affected by them.

Blissings,
David

 

Jun 01, 2009 03:07 PM