Haunted Houses and Property Disclosures in Real Estate

Buying or selling a home shouldn’t be scary—as long as you have a good Realtor® protecting you along the way.  But it’s that time of year when it’s fun to think about scary things. How about haunted houses?

Perhaps you might remember “Poltergeist” when they find out that their home was built on a cemetery. The headstones were moved but they left the bodies behind…and the ghosts stayed as well. A few years later and they could have just called “Ghostbusters” to fix the problem.

But what about real haunted houses—or at least homes where people really think it’s haunted?

Whether you are a buyer or a seller you will need to consider the property’s disclosure statement. No, there isn’t any section that provides specific information about haunting. However, in South Dakota there is a section that includes these two relevant questions:

  1. Since you have owned the property, are you aware of a human death by homicide or suicide occurring on the property?
  2. Are you aware of any other material facts or problems that have not been disclosed on this form? If yes, please explain:

Regarding the first question the wording asks if you are “aware” of an event. So, as a seller, if you are being haunted and you do some research and find out that someone was killed on the property 20 years ago, you would need to disclose that information. Homicides and suicides are events which lead to the property being referred to as “stigmatized” and will sometimes negatively impact the market for your home. In years past, property disclosures only asked for the past 12 months. Now it’s an indefinite period. Why? The buyers will likely find out about it when they move in and talk to the neighbors. That’s even more likely if the house is haunted.

In the case of a haunting, the second question listed would likely be the place a prudent seller would want to disclose that information. If you are debating on whether or not to disclose something—you absolutely should disclose it. You are much better to be safe than be held liable later.

If you are a buyer that scares off easily, you should look at that area of the property disclosure carefully. Before buying the home, you can ask for further clarification from the seller if there have been any paranormal instances.

On the national scene there have been some instances where a person failed to disclose a haunting and a potential buyer found out about it and was able to back out of the deal.

So, how would I recommend that a person market a house where they disclose and truly believe that it is haunted?

I would recommend marketing the property as being haunted. Yes, there is a smaller market for haunted homes but there are people out there who—for whatever reason—may be more inclined to buy a haunted house. It would also generate more news media which would lead to a broader spectrum of potential buyers. Besides, a 2013 survey indicates that 62% of buyers would consider purchasing a haunted house. People do not scare as easily as you think!

If you visit any of the hotels in the Black Hills that are haunted (such as the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood or the Alex Johnson in Rapid City), you will find that it’s usually harder to get the rooms where most of the haunting activity allegedly takes place—because people want to stay there. Check it out for yourself—if you dare!

I hope you have more treats than tricks in your home this Halloween! Also, don’t forget to keep your pets safe inside your home—particularly if you have a black cat.

Lastly, if you are looking for a Rapid City Realtor® who doesn’t scare easily, give me a call.

My former cat Ringo, waiting for Trick or Treaters. He passed away in the summer of 2019. However, I suspect that he may still haunt Trick or Treaters…if you suddenly feel something rub up against your leg and nothing is there it may be Ringo!

Agent

Ron Sasso

Ron Sasso

Phone605-593-3759