Have a haunted house for sale? You better disclose it to potential purchasers. In New Jersey, real estate agents and sellers are required to disclose to potential buyers if there are psychological impairments inherent in the property including if the house is haunted. Full disclosure is paramount. The most written about case of a haunted house involved Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky of Nyack, N.Y. and the $650,000 Victorian home they bought near the Hudson River. Helen Ackley, the owner of the four-bedroom, two-bathroom property had decided to retire to Florida, and when she put up the house for sale she failed to inform the buyers and realtor about her ghostly tenants. Her story of a friendly ghost was publicized in local papers and even appeared in Reader’s Digest.
So what do you think happened? If you guessed that the buyers sued you would be correct. The buyers won on appeal. What is the moral of the story? DISCLOSE ALL MATERIAL DEFECTS IN WRITING!
The National Association of Realtors published their Haunted Real Estate Survey: http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-dealing-with-stigmatized-properties
41% of respondents would buy a place with reported ghost sightings 36% of respondents wouldn’t object to levitating objects 15% of respondents would pay full market value of the home 19% of respondents would take a 31-50% discount
Would you knowingly buy a haunted house? Do you have a haunted house story? I’d love to hear it. If it is brief enough to fit in my blog I will be happy to print it in my October blog for Halloween. E-mail it to me at email@example.com.
Back in Brooklyn, my next door neighbor had a haunted house. We were attached on one side. It was a brick house built in the late 1920s. They would tell us about all the weird happenings they experienced. Their guests saw doors open and slam shut without cause or explanation. Objects levitated. They saw black shadow men and smelled tobacco smoke (no one in their house smoked). Once when I was visiting them a book violently flew off a bookshelf across the room. Needless to say I avoided going next door very often and when I did I always had my Rosary beads and a vial of holy water. Thankfully, I never saw anything like that happen there again. They sold their home in 2004 for $425,000.
I spoke with a Realtor from New York who was unaware of the haunted house case. He rightly concluded that it would fall under the rules of disclosure. He stated he would not accept the listing. I would. In fact, I would market the house as haunted. As the survey shows almost half of potential buyers would be buy a haunted house under some circumstances. Stigmatized properties will always be problematic. As a Sales Associate we are bound by ethics to always do the right thing. So if you have ghosts it may be prudent to disclose. You still may have a specter of a chance at getting full list price. Ya never know.
Words of Wisdom: “The major fortunes in America have been made in land.” -John D. Rockefeller
The ideas expressed in this report reflect my own personal views and opinions and are for reflection and personal discernment only and should not be relied upon as legal or investment advice. The foregoing report is for information only. No warranties are made regarding the truth or accuracy of this information and I specifically disclaim any and all liability for any reliance placed upon the materials that are here published. Always consult your lawyer for legal advice in matters of private or business importance. Nothing published in the Monti Real Estate Monitor should be construed as investment advice or as a solicitation to buy or sell any kind of financial instruments or Real Estate.