Sellers must disclose certain defects to buyers. But is paranormal activity one of them?
- State laws generally require home sellers to make disclosures to buyers.
- If the sellers have detected paranormal activity in their home, it could be considered a defect.
- Sellers should know if they are required to tell potential buyers that they suspect their home is haunted.
When you sell your house, you are in the best position to know the details of the property. As a result, many states have laws requiring you to disclose certain details about the home you are selling. Specifically, you will likely need to explain any material defects so that buyers can make an informed choice about whether to make an offer, secure a mortgage, and pay you for your property.
There are some known defects that you should generally point out to potential buyers, such as roof leaks or foundation issues. But what if you think your house is haunted because you have evidence of paranormal activity. Is it something you need to share?
What are the rules regarding a suspected haunted house?
Not surprisingly, most states don’t have laws on the books that specify exactly whether a seller must disclose if a property is haunted. However, this issue has been resolved in a limited number of locations, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.
In Minnesota and Massachusetts, the law specifically states that paranormal activity does not have to be disclosed to potential buyers. But in New York and New Jersey, there are circumstances where this information must be shared.
In New Jersey, sellers must be honest in reporting ghostly activity, but only if potential buyers request it. So homebuyers worried about having unwanted missing guests with a new mortgage bill when purchasing a property should make sure to find out if there are any ghosts on the premises.
In New York, sellers who perpetuate the reputation of a haunted house cannot turn around and sell the property to unsuspecting buyers or the courts could overturn the sale of the house. This is based on a court ruling in 1991 when a family spoke publicly about ghostly activity and then sold their home to out-of-town buyers who were unaware of their reputation. It’s often called the “Ghostbusters” case.
Other states don’t specifically address hauntings, but many require sellers to disclose recent deaths on the property, as well as “emotional flaws” or details about the stigmatized property that may lower the value of the home.
Should You Disclose Paranormal Activity?
If you suspect your home is haunted, you may want to speak with a realtor to see if it’s a good idea to let potential buyers know. You don’t want to break a state law and end up with your home sale not going through or a buyer suing for non-disclosure.
While you are not obligated to disclose details of a haunting, you will have the opportunity to decide for yourself if you wish to share information about ghostly activities. In a hot market, that may not scare away potential buyers — and it may even entice some to come see your space, as rumors of ghosts could potentially help your property stand out from the crowd.
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you think it’s fair to share your beliefs with potential buyers if you don’t have to – or whether you’d rather let them do their due diligence by themselves and perhaps meet the ghosts at their own pace after moving in.
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