Should I buy a house that may be haunted? I’m interested in a historical home but there are rumours of paranormal activity.


 
Historical homes that have become associated with paranormal tales over the years may not be for everyone. But there can be benefits for those who are brave enough to take on the eerie and the unknown.

Whether or not you believe in restless spirits and paranormal activity, the subject is something that arises from time to time in real estate transactions.

If a property is believed to be visited by otherworldly forces, it may be considered “stigmatized” by some potential buyers. In the context of real estate, a “stigma” can be defined as a non-physical, intangible attribute of a property that may elicit a psychological or emotional response on the part of a potential buyer. Something may have occurred in or near the property that does not affect the property’s appearance or function but might be considered by some as emotionally unnerving.

Examples of property stigmas include:

    • it was the scene of a major crime;
    • it was previously owned by a notorious individual;
    • there was a suspicious death there;
    • there are reports that it is haunted.

Generally, sellers are not required to disclose psychological stigmas relating to a property. Stigma is about perspective – in other words, what one person might find completely unacceptable may not be of any concern to another. Talk to your salesperson about anything that would concern you beyond the physical attributes of the property and that would affect your enjoyment of the property. This will ultimately help your representative find the home that’s right for you.

You may also want to do some independent research to see what you may uncover. You can search online and go through local archives, and neighbouring residents can often be a good source of information too.

In the spirit of the Halloween season, here are a few potential benefits of buying a property with a spooky reputation.

There might be less competition: When rumours are swirling about possible supernatural activity, there may be a tendency for some people to steer clear, which could reduce your competition. This could mean a better shot at having your offer accepted.

You might get a better price: Ask yourself, “Could you live at that address?” For some, the answer is an emphatic “no!” For others, it would not be a problem, especially if they can secure the house at the right price.

You’ll be able to embrace the Halloween season: If known as a local ‘haunted house,’ your historical home might be one of your community’s star attractions throughout October. Whether you actually believe your property is haunted or not, you can still embrace the spooky reputation and go the extra mile when it comes to decorating for Halloween.

Historical properties can be very attractive, spacious, well-constructed, and located in prime neighbourhoods. Ownership of a historical home can also give you a sense of pride and accomplishment as you restore and enhance it to its original glory with modern-day touches. Should it be discounted from consideration because of the chilling tales associated with it? Find out…if you dare.


This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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