Must a Haunted House be Disclosed to a Buyer?

It depends. Is the HOUSE haunted or is the OCCUPANT haunted?


Story One: “My ghost has been a peaceful apparition showing herself on several occasions over the past 40+ years.  She has followed me from the deep south to the Pacific Northwest to the eastern seaboard to Europe and back to the bay area. She was last seen in approximately the spring of 2001. My former wife and step-daughter also claimed to have seen her, or at least her dress. She wore a white flowing gown. We couldn’t see her face and she’s never been a scary presence to me, just unusual…”

Story Two: “Both Ray* and I felt his presence. He touched Ray on his shoulder one night while I was in bed, next to him, sound asleep. It was on the opposite side of the bed, so it couldn’t have been me! The dogs would run up and down the hallway, barking at nothing at times. One night, Ray sat down with the ghost and told him that this is now our house, and we would take care of it. After that, the dogs would run down the hallway, and not bark, but sit at attention, wag their tails, etc. I didn’t feel his presence much after that.”

STORY THREE: “When we were looking for our first house, we were brought to a little 2 bed/1 bath in San Leandro. It was a couple blocks from the railroad tracks, so I didn’t think it would be good, but the agent insisted that we at least look at the house. It had bars in the front windows, which was something I did NOT want. The agent insisted that they were the “right kind” of bars — the ones you can release from the inside. So we went inside the house. Immediately, upon crossing the threshold, I felt like a little woman was yelling in my face. It wasn’t in English–possibly in Portuguese? I didn’t understand the words, but she DID NOT want us in HER house! She was in my face, no matter which way I turned! I said to my husband, “Do you –” and he said, “I’ve broken out in hives! She doesn’t want us here!” The agent had gone ahead into the house and was calling from the kitchen. But I didn’t want to go any further! She was too angry! The agent walked us through the house, and we dutifully went past each room, then got the H#%# out of there!”

To disclose or not to disclose? Our legal counsel says, “Your question has been the topic of many discussions in our department. Some of our attorneys do not believe in ghosts and do not think disclosure is generally needed. However, even the skeptics agree that if a house is known by people in the neighborhood as the “haunted house”, that stigmatization should be disclosed. I am one of those atorneys who think that ghosts may exist, so I tend to recommend disclosure. Our general advice is, “when in doubt, disclose”. I don’t know of any specific cases on this topic, and I doubt if there’s a definitive way to determine whether a property is haunted.”

*Name has been changed to protect the parties involved.

An image of a cartoonish ghost.
Image via Wikipedia
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3 thoughts on “Must a Haunted House be Disclosed to a Buyer?”

  1. If you have to ask the question….then it should be disclosed. Remember, the money you make on the sale will never cover the attorney fees you will pay to defend yourself. ALWAYS DISCLOSE!

  2. This said by a fellow REALTOR, no doubt partially in jest:

    “I believe, legally, it does not have to be disclosed. Also, all ghosts/spirits that are from a death on a property, are legally required to leave after three years, and no longer needs to be disclosed unless it was a violent homicide.”

    The “three years” statement was made because a disclosure is required to be made if the seller is aware that a death has occurred on the property within the last three years.

  3. Another reader wrote back and here is what he said:

    “I enjoyed your material on Halloween Haunted Houses. I may have missed some but if I may interject an opinion here?

    “I studied Houdini a great deal. He was fixated on discovering proof of an afterlife. He was also a realist. He desperately wanted to contact his deceased mother, if at all possible. Every single attempt to find real evidence proved to be either false enthusiasm or a hoax. He offered a reward. No one has ever claimed it. Today’s offers have likewise never resulted in any scientific documentary proof. Only speculative reactionary results.

    “As such, the scientific world has concluded there is no such thing without documented proof that would stand up in court. So how can a real estate agent be required to make notice to potential buyers about something that doesn’t exist? If they are required to make notice of spooky goings on then half of the houses for sale what have to be classified as having “Things that go bump in the night.” However when I pass on I plan on coming back to scare the daylights out of everybody I can!”

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