Haunted Houses & Stigmatized Properties


As the spectre of Halloween looms, there’s no better time to approach the notion of viewing a haunted house – if you dare. With ghosts, zombies and other spooky characters preparing to descend on houses across the province this month, this is as good a time as any to ask yourself: Would you be comfortable living in a house that has a reputation of being haunted?

The thought would send a shiver down the spine of some prospective buyers, while others wouldn’t mind as long as it had the location and amenities they’re looking for. Who knows, some may even consider it a selling feature.

Then there’s the psychological stigma – a non-physical attribute of a property that may provoke a negative emotional response by the potential buyer, like the ghosts rummaging about in the attic or if it was previously owned by a notorious individual or another member of horror movie royalty. Stigmas are based on perception and individual sensitivities, so they vary greatly from one person to the next.

Some psychological stigmas may impact the value of a property because the stigma stems from a valid concern or something that most people would find spooky. Other stigmas are more individual in nature.

While sellers are required by law to disclose latent physical defects that are known to them, there is no legal precedent in Ontario that requires disclosure of a stigma to buyers. However, all registered real estate professionals are obligated to act with fairness, honesty and integrity when dealing with others in a transaction.

A Realtor.com survey from October 2013 found that more than half of home buyers surveyed would be open to buying a haunted house, and 22 % of them would consider buying it on one condition – that the home was substantially discounted at 31 – 50 %! But, even those that were interested in buying a haunted property, there’s only so much they would be able to take. These spooky occurrences would scare them away:

75 % said levitating objects;

63 %  said objects being moved from where they were placed;

63 % said ghost sightings;

61 %  said supernatural sensations;

60 %  said strange noises (footsteps, doors slamming)

What about you?  Would you consider buying a haunted house?

Jennifer Birch

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