👻 What’s scarier than living in a haunted house?
Among people who believe in the supernatural, 44% say paranormal activity has increased since the pandemic began — yet more than half of Americans say problems such as mold or foundation issues are still scarier than living in a haunted house.
As Americans plan their Halloween costumes and indulge in scary movie marathons this October, many sense a ghostly chill in the air.
This conviction comes from firsthand experience, with 73% of Americans saying they’ve experienced a supernatural event. Among them, 44% say they have experienced more frequent supernatural events since the pandemic began — particularly millennials, who are 3.1x more likely than boomers to report an increase.
To learn more about Americans’ experiences with haunted real estate and their Halloween plans in 2021, we surveyed 1,000 Americans about their paranormal beliefs, home-buying preferences, and Halloween plans.
We learned that even as beliefs in the supernatural are becoming more commonplace, just 5% of respondents say ghosts are the scariest aspect of homeownership. Instead, people are more afraid of:
- Mold (57%)
- Foundation issues (56%)
- Termites (54%)
- Asbestos (54%)
- Water damage (54%)
- Pests (e.g., cockroaches, mice, spiders, etc.) (53%)
- A leaky roof (53%)
- Outdated electrical system (51%)
- Lead paint (51%)
- A leaky basement (48%)
- Old plumbing (47%)
- Radon (44%)
- A broken furnace (41%)
- Broken central air conditioning (41%)
Read on to discover how Americans’ attitudes toward haunted houses have changed in the past year — and how they plan to celebrate Halloween during the continuing pandemic.
Haunted House Statistics
- 44% of Americans believe they’ve lived in a haunted house.
- Though ghosts are frightening, other aspects of homeownership are even scarier, including mold (57%), foundation issues (56%), termites (54%), asbestos (54%), and water damage (54%).
- Americans also fear floods (54%), fires (49%), and other safety hazards, yet many lack basic safety features in their home. For example, 66% don’t have a radon detector, 45% lack an alarm system, 40% don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, 38% lack a fire extinguisher, and 29% don’t have smoke detectors.
- In a competitive real estate market, 73% of Americans say they’d consider purchasing a haunted house — but 52% wouldn’t pay full market value.
- Nearly half of Americans (48%) would rather purchase a haunted house than live within one mile of a waste management facility.
- Americans would rather live with ghosts than near the scene of a violent crime (47%), a former meth lab (45%), or within one mile of a prison (44%), among others.
- Americans are most likely to consider purchasing a haunted house if it has a lower sale price (63%), is in a safer neighborhood (57%), or has friendly ghosts (53%).
- Many Americans plan to return to pre-pandemic Halloween festivities including handing out candy (46%), attending an event such as a haunted house or corn maze (36%), attending a party (33%), or hosting a party (30%).
- 76% of parents plan to let their children trick-or-treat this year, compared to just 60% during the first Halloween during the pandemic.
- Despite the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, approximately 1 in 8 Americans (13%) won’t be taking any special precautions this Halloween.
Nearly Half of Americans Believe They’ve Lived in a Haunted House
As 71% of workers with remote-friendly jobs now work from home all or most of the time, Americans spend more time than ever within their houses — where they may be better-positioned to observe supernatural events that would otherwise occur without their knowledge.
Almost two years into the pandemic, nearly half of our respondents (44%) say they’ve lived in a haunted house — a significant leap from 2020, when just 24% of Americans said they had experienced a haunting.
An additional 14% say they’re unsure, leaving open the possibility of otherworldly explanations for their experiences.
Americans are more likely to believe they’ve lived in a haunted house if they already believe in the supernatural (53%) — a group that overlaps with the 48% of millennials who say they’ve shared a home with ghosts. Only about one in five boomers (18%) also believe they’ve lived in a haunted house.
Of those who reported living in a haunted house, 63% say they were aware of the haunting before moving in — and still chose to live there.
Evidence of a haunting varied widely among respondents, from odd sightings to creepy sensations:
- Strange noises (64%)
- Feelings of being touched or watched (60%)
- Strange shadows around the home (59%)
- Ghost sightings (56%)
- Cold or hot spots in the home (55%)
- Certain rooms with an eerie or haunted feeling (54%)
- Objects moving or levitating on their own (50%)
- Previous owners disclosed the haunting (48%)
Though some of these may have rational explanations, such as a malfunctioning air conditioner or groaning pipes, our respondents are convinced that ghosts are to blame.
Homeowners Fear Fires, Floods, and Other Disasters — Yet 5% Have No Basic Safety Precautions in Place
From hidden costs to extreme weather events, many Americans view homeownership as a potentially risky endeavor.
For our respondents, the scariest aspects of homeownership include:
- Unexpected costs such as HOA fees and home repairs (63%)
- Natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. (54%)
- Bad neighbors (51%)
- Inability to pay mortgage (51%)
- Fire or home burning down (49%)
- Rising crime in the neighborhood (47%)
- Home value depreciating (46%)
Despite widespread fears of fires and disasters, many Americans have shockingly few safety precautions in place. In fact, 5% of respondents have no basic standard safety items in their homes.
Among respondents who lack common home safety items:
- 66% don’t have a radon detector
- 45% don’t have an alarm or security system
- 40% don’t have a carbon monoxide detector
- 38% don’t have a fire extinguisher
- 29% don’t have smoke detectors or sprinklers
There may be a surprising link between a lack of safety items and suspected hauntings. Since 1921, scientists have hypothesized that carbon monoxide poisoning may be the culprit behind some reported hauntings.
Millennials Harbor More Fears About Homeownership
In general, millennials report more anxiety about homeownership than boomers — possibly because just 42% of millennials are able to become homeowners by age 30, compared to 51% of boomers.
We found that millennials are:
- 2.3x more likely to fear falling home values
- 2.1x more likely to fear fires
- 1.8x more likely to fear natural disasters
- 1.7x more likely to fear unexpected costs
Higher levels of anxiety may prompt millennials to take safety precautions more seriously than previous generations. Compared to boomers, millennials are 2.1x more likely to have a radon detector and 1.8x more likely to have a security or alarm system.
In a Competitive Housing Market, 73% of Americans Say They’d Purchase a Haunted House
In 2021’s white-hot housing market, 73% of Americans say they’d be open to purchasing a haunted home — up from just 59% in 2020.
In fact, 15% of our respondents say they’d prefer to own a haunted house, 3x more than in 2020.
Millennials are least likely to be deterred by a ghost or two: Nearly one in five (18%) say they’d prefer a haunted house, compared to just 3% of boomers.
Surprisingly, Americans who believe in the supernatural are also more likely to consider purchasing a haunted house (75% versus 64% of nonbelievers) and more likely to prefer a haunted house (17% versus 8% of nonbelievers).
Though home buyers may be open to purchasing a haunted house, 52% say they wouldn’t pay full market value. This includes:
- 19% who would pay 1% to 20% below market value
- 20% who would pay 21% to 50% below market value
- 13% who would pay more than 50% below market value
Surprisingly, 27% of respondents say they would still be willing to pay above market value for a haunted house, including 11% who would pay more than 50% above market value. Approximately one in five (21%) would pay exactly market value.
Compared to boomers, millennials are 2.5x more likely to say they’d pay more than 50% above market value for a haunted house and 2.4x more likely to pay 1% to 20% above market value.
Price aside, 30% of respondents say they’d consider buying a haunted house if it had:
- A lower price (63%)
- A safer neighborhood (57%)
- Friendly ghosts (53%)
- Modern renovations and/or appliances (41%)
- A larger yard or more land (39%)
- More square footage (38%)
- A better school district (37%)
- Closer to amenities (28%)
Millennials are 1.7x more likely to be swayed by a better school district, 1.4x more likely to overlook a haunting in favor of more square footage, and 1.2x more likely to purchase a haunted home in a safer neighborhood.
Proximity to a Waste Management Facility Tops Home Buyers’ List of Deal Breakers
Nearly half of Americans would rather purchase a haunted house than one located near a dump or other waste management facility.
Home buyers’ top deal breakers include homes that are:
- Located within a mile of a waste management facility (48%)
- The scene of a violent crime (47%)
- A former meth lab (45%)
- Located within a mile of a prison (44%)
- Located next to a cemetery (39%)
- Dirty or cluttered (35%)
- Located within a mile of a busy highway (34%)
- Near the scene of a serious crime (34%)
- At an address featuring “666” (33%)
- The setting for a pornography (28%)
- Where someone died of natural causes (26%)
Overall, just 6% of respondents say none of these factors would be a deal breaker for when buying a home.
Additionally, millennials tend to be pickier than older home buyers. They’re 2.5x more likely to reject a home if a serious crime was committed nearby and 1.9x more likely to pass on a home that’s dirty, cluttered, or located within a mile of a busy highway. Millennials are also 1.8x more likely to avoid homes where someone died of natural causes.
Many Americans Are Reluctant to Move, Even If They Believe Their Home is Haunted
More than 1 in 10 Americans (11%) wouldn’t move immediately if they observed signs of a haunting.
Still, many would find some events too unnerving to bear. Respondents say they’d move immediately if:
- Objects moved or levitated on their own (45%)
- They experienced the feeling of being touched or watched (42%)
- Their children suddenly behaved strangely in the home (40%)
- A serious crime was committed nearby (38%)
- They saw a ghost (37%)
- They learned about a crime previously committed in the home (34%)
- Their pet began acting strangely in a certain area of the house (33%)
- They heard strange noises (32%)
- They felt unexplained hot or cold spots (28%)
- They learned learned the home was haunted without experiencing any supernatural events (27%)
Homeowners who are desperate to quickly exit a haunted property are also wary of scaring off prospective buyers.
The majority of respondents (62%) say they’d avoid disclosing a haunting to potential buyers if possible, including 10% who would refuse to disclose a haunting even if the law required it. An additional 32% would only tell prospective buyers if the law required it, and 20% would only do so if directly asked.
Just 38% say they’d warn a prospective buyer about a haunting, regardless of what the law demands.
Despite this widespread reluctance, 73% of respondents believe the government should require sellers to disclose paranormal activities in homes — up from 63% in 2020.
Among those who believe in the supernatural, 79% agree that paranormal activity should be a required disclosure — a group that overlaps with the 74% millennials who also agree.
With Vaccination Rates Rising, Families Feel Less Fearful of Trick-or-Treating in the COVID Era
With more than half of Americans fully vaccinated, 76% of parents plan to let their kids trick-or-treat this year, up from just 60% in 2020. Among them, 98% plan to take some additional safety precautions against the virus, such as:
- Child will wear a mask (72%)
- Social distancing (71%)
- Hand sanitizing after each home (65%)
- Only trick-or-treating with people they live with (55%)
Just 2% of parents say they won’t take any extra safety precautions while trick-or-treating.
Many Americans also plan to return to pre-pandemic Halloween festivities including:
- Handing out candy (46%)
- Attending an event such as a haunted house or corn maze (36%)
- Attending a party (33%)
- Hosting a party (30%)
Most Americans (87%) plan to remain cautious this Halloween by relying on safety measures including:
- Hand sanitizing (60%)
- Wearing a face mask (58%)
- Social distancing (57%)
- Not attending large gatherings or events (42%)
- Not attending indoor gatherings (34%)
Still, approximately 1 in 8 Americans (13%) say they don’t plan to take any safety precautions against the virus this Halloween.
We surveyed 1,000 Americans who answered up to 20 questions about their paranormal beliefs, home-buying preferences, and Halloween plans.
About Real Estate Witch
You shouldn’t need a crystal ball or magical powers to understand real estate. Since 2016, Real Estate Witch has demystified real estate through in-depth guides, honest company reviews, and data-driven research. In 2020, Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save $70 million on realtor fees, acquired Real Estate Witch. Real Estate Witch’s research has been featured in CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, Chicago Tribune, Black Enterprise, and more.
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What's scarier than a haunted house?
Though ghosts are frightening, Americans say other aspects of homeownership are even scarier, including mold (57%), foundation issues (56%), termites (54%), asbestos (54%), and water damage (54%). Learn more.
Should you disclose if your house is haunted while selling?
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