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Selling a Haunted House?

October 30, 2018

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Picture of a haunted houseCheck out this video
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®, 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.

Pie chart regarding haunted houses and if homebuyers would consider one

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 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!


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“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

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“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

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“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

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- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

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