Working with 'haunted' houses

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Brokers have often debated the issue of grow-op houses but what about haunted houses?

“The most famous case [regarding disclosure of haunted houses] in North America is called the Ghost of Nyack in Nyack, New York,” says Barry Lebow, an expert in stigmatized properties, adding that Realtors must always disclose a supposed haunted house. “A real estate agent was sued over it. You don’t have to believe [the property is haunted], the public has to believe it. That’s the only case of its kind in North America.”

In this case, homeowners did not disclose to buyers the fact that their 5,000-square foot home was haunted – a belief that was also commonly held throughout the community. Lebow says public perception is all it takes to stigmatize a property as haunted.

“A lot of times, it’s just word of mouth that makes a house haunted,” says expert Barry Lebow. “Word of mouth is the most dominate thing in stigma.”

There are similar perception-based laws in Canada. The presence of urea formaldehyde, for example, has the ability to stigmatize a house.

“There are no associated health risks but it stigmatizes these houses,” Lebow says. “[The general public] perceive it to be unhealthy.”

Still, there are buyers who are unconcerned with supposedly haunted houses, and there are others who would never step foot into a spirit-infested home. The trick for agents, Lebow says, is determining whether or not a property is stigmatized.

“In Canada, there are millions of houses,” he says, “and the question is, how many are labeled as haunted?”
  • Kent Farnsworth on 2014-10-31 2:07:16 PM

    Is there anything that they won't sue over in the US? I've heard it all now :) Getting sued over not disclosing that your house was haunted. Funny

  • Angela Wong-Liao - Invis on 2014-10-31 2:27:41 PM

    It is interesting when it comes to stigmatized houses, which is depending on the purchasers.
    Some purchasers would never set foot on a stigmatized house,for example a property with history of violence (murders & death), grow op houses & other reasons.
    However, there are purchasers who only concerned about pricing and location.
    I believe a stigmatized house has a different sector of purchasers.

  • Ross Kay on 2014-10-31 5:35:14 PM

    In Canada if you buy any home, you should be made aware of any stigmas attached to the home. This is because the future value of the home could be impacted by these stigmas.

    Everyone knows even a homes street number can affect it's sale in a Buyers market, so you simply address all concerns in the offer.

    After all the 2nd, 3rd and 4th sale where you make your profit, why lose a client because you were negligent in not asking a simple and maybe seemingly silly question.

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