It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Fall is in full swing. Leaves are at peak foliage, football season is well under way, and Halloween is tomorrow! As the criteria for these articles encompass anything real estate, I’ll be festive for the time of year and spotlight haunted houses. A haunted house is a house or other building perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were otherwise connected with the property. Parapsychologists often attribute haunting to the spirits of the dead who have suffered from violent or tragic events in the building’s past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide. Hauntings are one of the most common paranormal beliefs around the world, according to Benjamin Radford in his book Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits. He says that almost every town and city has at least one “haunted” place. As there are plenty of skeptics out there, you have to believe in ghosts to believe in haunted houses. So are they real or not? Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell writes that in most cases he investigated, he found plausible explanations for haunting phenomena, such as physical illusions, waking dreams, and the effects of memory. According to Nickell, the power of suggestion along with confirmation bias plays a large role in perceived hauntings. He states that as a house, inn, or other place becomes thought of as haunted, more and more ghostly encounters are reported and that when people expect paranormal events, they tend to notice conditions that would confirm their expectations. Hollywood has knocked back a ton of money with paranormal entertainment. Decades of films and documentaries of the supernatural spotlight more along the lines of sinister spirits over the likes of Casper. Should the subjective opinion of the supernatural enter the realm of real estate, properties could be deemed ‘stigmatized’. In some cases, the psychological damage is so great—such as after a violent or highly publicized murder or suicide, or widespread reports of haunting—that the house is considered “stigmatized” and therefore less valuable. In most states, the owner would indeed be expected to disclose a defect causing the house to be stigmatized, so that buyers could adjust their expectations and purchase price accordingly. In the early morning hours on November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murders his entire family at their home of 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. From that headline, one of the most successful films of the horror genre was created. The Amityville Horror was one of the highest-grossing films of all time, grossing over $80 million in the United States. The actual home still exists and has had a ‘colorful’ track record of sales history. Many owners believed they experienced supernatural phenomena and moved. However, the current owner who purchased it in June of 1997 has not reported any ‘haunted’ or paranormal occurrences. The hauntings and/or paranormal activities reduced in number and severity until they were not existent.
Until next week, love where you live. And if you don’t … contact your local REALTOR®.
Brian Haufe, 2022 MBOR President