of haunted house ghost stories from the Wall Street Journal
In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d take a look at the challenges of selling a haunted house. Would you buy one? In the real estate game, haunted houses have the official designation of being considered “stigmatized.” That’s because they provoke an emotional response that can scare off potential buyers who would otherwise be interested in making an offer on your home.
According to the results of the Haunted House Real Estate Survey in realtor.com®, 33% of buyers who were asked if they would buy a haunted home said they’re open to living with an occasional bump in the night while 25% would consider sharing their living space with spirits, as long as they receive some type of perk, i.e. a price break. The remaining 42% of prospective homebuyers said they would not consider buying a haunted house under any circumstances.
The same survey found that living with haunting spirits is not that unusual. In fact, 28% of respondents are certain they’ve lived in a haunted home while 14% say they may have experienced paranormal activity in their house. Another 58% say they’ve experienced strange, unexplainable noises at home while 51% claim they’ve had creepy feelings in certain rooms, and 40% swear they’ve seen objects move or disappear.
The law when regarding haunted houses
When I'm selling a "haunted" house, or one with another material defect—such as a structural issue or a leaky roof—I counsel my sellers that they’re required to disclose the issues to potential buyers. But did you know that when a house is considered stigmatized, the law states that you have to disclose that info as well? Although the law varies from state to state, in California, it clearly says that a seller must disclose information about paranormal activity if it has occurred within the last three years. Besides haunted houses, stigmatized properties include homes where deaths, suicides, or criminal activities have occurred.
Is your house haunted?
According to Alison Wynne-Ryder, a psychic medium who has experience dealing with haunted houses, there are a few easy ways to tell if your house is home to spirits.
“Although most people you ask would say old properties or buildings that house many people, such as prisons, hospitals and castles, the reality is that any property can be haunted, even a modern one,” says Alison. “However, the likelihood is that more old properties tend to have a ‘haunted feeling’ about them, as they have more history and habitation than newer buildings.”
Alison offers the following advice in determining if your house is haunted or not. Feelings you’re living in a ‘haunted’ property:
- You feel someone is watching or spying on you
- You feel someone is standing behind you
- You feel someone touch you but no one’s there
- The hair on the back of your neck feels like it’s standing up
- You feel cobwebs on your face or body
- You feel a sudden cold breeze
- You feel depressed in one area of your home
What are the signs that a building is haunted?
- Lights turn on and off by themselves
- Light bulbs frequently blow out and have to be changed
- You hear the sound of things being dropped but nothing’s there
- You see unexplained shadows
- Your pets behave strangely e.g. dogs barking or cats snarling at something you can’t see
- You hear strange voices
- Your lights twinkle
- You feel sudden temperature drops, especially in one area of the home.
According to Alison, the best way to find out if your home is haunted or not is by keeping a diary. When you take a look back at the events you’ve documented, you’ll see if a pattern emerges that might explain the activity.
She also advises that you think about when the strange goings-on started, and if something had happened around that time that could be attributed to the activity. Alison says, “For example, did someone 'play' with an Ouija board? Did you stay in a haunted house or castle, or visit an old graveyard? If your home is indeed haunted, this will not go away of its own accord - it will get worse.”
What should you do if you think your home is haunted?
It may sound crazy, but if you’re uncomfortable with a presence, just ask it to leave. It’s your home and you have the right to tell ghosts to go away. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to call in the experts. Those of us who live in Santa Barbara County can contact Central Coast Paranormal Investigators, CCPI. Good paranormal investigators like CCPI don’t charge for their services. There’s an unwritten policy among paranormal groups to provide services at no charge. Normally, this service only takes three-to-four-hours.
These investigators usually have a background in science and use all the equipment you see utilized in television shows about the subject including an EMF (electromagnetic field) meter to detect changes in the electrical field in the atmosphere, a digital or cassette recorder designed to pick up distorted voices or even unexplained creepy sounds, and 35mm photography.
Santa Barbara Ghost Tours
Speaking of ghosts, did you know there’s a Santa Barbara Ghost Tour, offering a variety of exciting, entertaining and informative spooky walks and bus tour adventures in some of the most amusingly haunted locations in Santa Barbara? Historians Julie Ann Brown and Neal Graffy, along with ghost aficionado Catherine Miller have created these unique Santa Barbara tours that will send chills up your spine and leave you with a smile on your face.
If you’re selling a haunted house, whether it's a Montecito, Hope Ranch or Santa Barbara home, you can count on me to get you the best price possible, whether it’s a haunted home or not. Just give me a call at +1.805.886.9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. On the other hand, if you’re already here and considering selling your home or vacation residence, I’ll happily add your listing to my portfolio of fine homes in the area and find your new dream home on the American Rivera at the same time. Have a safe and happy Halloween!