The New Strategy for Scoring a Deal on a House? Buying a Haunted One

published Oct 27, 2021
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What’s scarier than a haunted house or a moonlit corn maze? If you’re a homebuyer, it’s the monstrous 2021 real estate market. The squeezed inventory is harrowing. And the bidding wars? They’ll send a tingle down your spine.

But there’s a new way to potentially score a scary-good deal on a home: buy one that has a grisly past. 

According to a new spooky season study from Realtor.com, 20 percent of Americans say they would live in a home where a murder has taken place, and 17 percent would live in a haunted house. 

However, if there’s a discount involved, Americans are far more likely to buy one of those ghoulish homes. In fact, 75 percent of those surveyed say they’d require a discount to buy a home where someone was murdered — with the majority wanting a 10 percent markdown. As for haunted homes, 63 percent of those looking to buy in the next 12 months are willing to live in a haunted house at a discounted price, with most looking for a discount that’s more than 20 percent off market price. 

Buyers may absolutely have an opportunity to negotiate a discount on a home where something terrible happened or one that’s rumored to be haunted, says Realtor.com Deputy News Editor Clare Trapasso

Often, there are a number of scare-seekers who would love to attend a showing to peek inside the home. But don’t let all the hubbub at an open house discourage you, Trapasso says, because there aren’t nearly as many serious buyers who would actually want to live in the home. If the place lingers on the market for a few months in a housing market as competitive as this one, the sellers may consider reducing the price or be open to a lower offer, she says. 

“Buyers can point out that the house is worth less than those next door because they have to deal with the annoyance of people stopping by to take photos or trying to get inside,” Trapasso says. “But ultimately it’s up to the sellers and what kinds of other offers they have on the table.”

Michael Thornton, a licensed real estate broker with Compass in Chicago, says that in real estate, everything is negotiable.

“If there’s reason to believe a home is haunted or a grisly event occurred, buyers can use that to their advantage,” Thornton says. “A great buyer’s agent will be able to articulate their buyer’s perspective and can provide the rationale for a buyer’s stance on value, and the gap between that perceived value and the list price. If the buyer isn’t worried about the potential haunting, they can simply use the spooky information to get a discount on the home.”

Almost one third of Americans say they’ve lived in a house they believed was haunted. (ICYMI: Here’s how to tell if your house is haunted). How did they know? According to Realtor.com’s survey, they noticed a variety of signals: 58 percent thought it was partially because of strange noises, 44 percent said it was the feel of certain rooms, 42 percent saw shadows, 37 percent reported feeling touched, 37 percent noticed strange pet behavior, 35 percent noticed items moving, 34 percent felt a hot or cold spot, 33 percent spotted a ghost, 31 percent saw the lights turn on and off, and 12 percent of respondents saw levitating objects. 

The takeaway? When you’re house hunting, check the closets for any skeletons. Your dream home could be in closer reach than you think.