Looking for cheap real estate? The solution may haunt you

How many times have you heard that “location, location, location” is the top requirement for getting the highest price when you sell your home? But location can also work in your favor when you’re buying, particularly if a residence is rumored to be haunted. How much can you save if you’re willing to go the ghostly real estate route? Some experts estimate price reductions of as much as 10 percent just because a house is near a cemetery. And you may be able to bargain for further reductions if the thought of living around the undead or paranormal occurrences doesn’t bother you. Of course, it takes a special type of buyer to make a purchase straight out of Scooby Doo (or The Shining!). If you think you have what it takes to live at a discount in a house that’s occupied even when no one’s home, here’s how to find ghostly real estate bargains:

The haunted house discount

Along with buying a house near a railroad track or cemetery, you might want to look for a home with the reputation for hosting ghosts to save money on real estate. But keep in mind, even if you don’t believe in such supernatural happenings, you will have to live in this house if you purchase it. So will any renters if you intend to buy the property as an investment. When the eerie vibe sets in or the odd nighttime noises and flashing lights begin, it may not be enough to offset that bargain price. A 2017 Harris Poll for Trulia revealed 43 percent of Americans ages 18 and older would lose interest in buying any residence where a mysterious death or something ghostly had occurred. And only 30 percent of the adults in the same survey said they’d live in such a home. Make sure you’re one of them before trying to tap into the savings.

Los Felix ‘Murder Mansion” sells for less

The Los Feliz “Murder Mansion” in Los Angeles is one real-life example of how a haunted or grisly past gives the buyer an upper hand. The home’s creepy history includes a murder-suicide in 1959, with a Dr. Harold Perelson killing his wife with a hammer and then using acid and tranquilizers to kill himself. The new owners who bought the place in 1960 could never bring themselves to do more than store stuff at the eerie mansion, which still had the Christmas tree in place from the night of the crime. Even the heir never did more than feed his cats there. When he relisted the home in 2016, even though 57 years had passed, the buyers paid $400,000 less than the asking price of $2.75 million. Three years later, the house is for sale again. Will it sell as listed? The newish owners are asking $3.5 million.

A savvy house hunter might be able to demand a discount for this spooky spot, or really, any residential real estate with a haunted past. Even if you don’t get a substantial price reduction, being willing to live at a place that was the site of a grisly crime or is known for attracting ghosts can yield other benefits. An eerie spot may offer the chance to get a home with more bedrooms for a lower price, for example, or a place in a better neighborhood than you could ordinarily afford. You may also be able to purchase more square footage on your budget if you are willing to consider haunted homes. You can also ask the seller to provide a budget for a “spiritual cleansing” of the property, just like you might request an allowance for replacing carpet with hardwood floors. If the house is already well-known for ghostly sightings, you can request further discounts because you may have the added inconvenience of ghost hunters haunting your home.

If you are in the market and try to get a price reduction for a so-called “haunted house,”  make sure to ask to spend the night in the place for a weekend before committing. That’s the best test of whether you and your home crew will be able to live in the space without creeping out. The Harris Poll showed that Millennial men said they were most likely to want to live in a house where someone had died. But even they might balk at the reality, and you want that settled ahead of closing.

Don’t want a haunted house?

If you are happy to pay extra to live in a house free of even friendly spirits, you should still beware of accidentally buying a haunted house. In real estate lingo, having ghosts or a mysterious death in its past makes a house “stigmatized.” But California is one of the few states that makes it the seller’s legal responsibility to disclose the “stigma” both to the listing agent and potential buyers. If you’re buying an older home, it might pay to research its history at the local library.

You can also consult the DiedInHouse.com website to see if any unnatural deaths occurred on the property you intend to purchase. At the very least, check out sites like Zillow to see how many times your potential purchase has changed owners in its history. Too many sales could indicate a hot market or a neighborhood that’s on the up and up. But lots of owner turnover could also indicate ghostly figures running residents away from the home. It’s worth asking the seller to explain so you can reduce your odds of living in a home sweet haunted house.

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