Turns out, a leaky roof is much scarier than any ghost.
Although 75% of Americans believe otherworldly beings exist in 2023 — up from 69% in 2022 — the most frightening part of owning a home is still the cost. Half of homeowners said they are more afraid of unexpected costs, followed by 46% who said high interest rates and 42% who said being unable to pay their mortgage.
To keep the costs of purchasing a home low in an expensive market, 52% of Americans would risk buying a haunted house, according to a new study from Real Estate Witch and Estate Media, the first personality-driven media company for the real estate business.
Twenty-nine percent of Americans believe they have already lived in a real haunted house, with young homeowners two times more likely to think they have roomed with ghosts. Thirty-five percent of millennials believe they have lived in a haunted house, compared to just 15% of boomers.
“My personal belief is that all humans carry energy, and I believe that we leave residual energy any place we’ve been,” said Cindy Hagley, a California-based real estate agent who has sold stigmatized properties. “Some of the energy we leave may be more intense than other energy, depending on the situation and circumstances. When intense energy is rooted in a particular property, this could be interpreted as haunted.”
Buying a haunted house could be a good way to save money on a home purchase, but 55% of homeowners who have lived with the supernatural said they wouldn’t buy another house they knew was haunted.
Buying a haunted house
More than 1 in 4 owners of a haunted house knew the home was haunted and chose to buy it anyway.
If they had to pick between living with otherworldly houseguests or saving money, Americans would choose the cold hard cash. The No. 1 reason Americans purchased a haunted house was because of a lower price, followed by more square footage, a larger yard, and a better school district.
However, the percentage of people willing to live with a ghost in exchange for a lower price or another benefit is falling rapidly. In 2022, 69% of respondents said they’d opt for a haunted house if it came with certain advantages, while only 40% said the same in 2023.
As home prices continue to rise along with interest rates, buyers are becoming more selective.
A frightening surprise
Among Americans who have lived in a haunted house, 73% had no idea they were purchasing a house with supernatural beings.
Although popular house-hunting social media accounts, such as Zillowtastrophes, highlight terrifyingly outdated carpeting and ghoulish color schemes, they don’t mention ghosts more than official home listings, which discourage unconventional disclosures.
Fifty-three percent of homeowners realized their house was haunted when they heard strange noises, and 47% felt like they were being touched or watched. An additional 41% saw shadows around the home, and 41% experienced eerie or haunted feelings in certain rooms.
But more than one-third of homeowners claim to have seen a ghost in their home.
Disclosing ghosts in the home
When they discovered their home was haunted, 57% of homeowners said their home scared them, and 45% dreaded returning home.
To avoid unpleasant revelations, 68% of Americans believe the government should require sellers to disclose a haunted home. One of the thornier questions is when sellers should tell buyers about the presence of a ghost. If they disclose it up front, they could scare off buyers.
Hagley has a strategy for this exact situation. She usually keeps the ghost under wraps until the latter part of the deal.
“It isn’t mentioned until we get to the disclosure part of the transaction,” she said.
Her reasons are twofold: If she puts the haunting in the listing, gawkers come to the showings. Waiting to disclose the haunting until the end of the transaction avoids creating a spectacle, and buyers who are almost at the finish line are less likely to walk away from a deal over an alleged haunting.
Fleeing a haunted house
For every American ready and willing to live with a ghost, there’s one who’d be out the door at the first sign of anything spooky. Nearly a third of respondents said they’d move if they learned their house was haunted.
Others would take drastic measures to expel the spirits. About 39% said they’d cleanse the home, while 18% said they’d conduct an exorcism. Another 18% said they’d try to contact the ghosts, while 14% said they’d remodel their home.
Only 16% said they’d accommodate their supernatural guests by making the home more comfortable for the ghosts.