By Tanya Marchiol
The laws about disclosing if a house is “haunted” vary from state to state.
The possibility of a property being “psychologically impacted” isn’t considered a “material fact required to be disclosed” to potential buyers.
Emotional defects like murders and ghost sightings only have to be disclosed if they physically affect the property (Blood running from the walls? Gotta tell the buyer).
As American Horror Story demonstrates, sellers do have to disclose emotional defects, but only in a very limited way. The state Civil Code requires that a death on the property only needs to be disclosed if it occurred less than three years prior to the sale and older incidents need to be addressed only if the buyer specifically asks. Some jurisdictions are a little more vague in the way they word things, so smart sellers could potentially disclose what they need to without having to drop words like “haunted,” “poltergeist” or “murder spree.”
Other U.S. States
Most states require “Seller Disclosure Statements” where the seller must disclose all known facts. With the recent flood of foreclosures and bank owed properties many people who could “disclose” are not the seller so homes are being sold with a disclaimer that the seller cannot provide a “Sellers disclosure statement”, and that the buyer is buying based on a material inspection. If no ghosts show up during the inspections you may not even know what you are getting into. This also goes for leaky pipes that had a good patch job.
Obviously in a known case of unwanted guests the value of the home may just be affected and possibly dramatically if the home is a known nuisance. Rumors will affect your sales price, even if the buyer thinks they are getting the deal of the century they have the mysterious to deal with and they will want to be compensated for the remediation or unwanted roommate.
This is always a tough sell. Not too easy to explain a cabinet opening and closing on its own or levitating candlesticks, but it still may be sellable.
Bottom line is unfortunately these guests don’t pay rent and being the capitalist I am I am not much on free rent so in true real estate lingo and all meaning of the statement…. CAVEAT EMPTOR!