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About one fourth of all Americans -- at least the Americans who responded to this survey -- believe they've lived in a haunted house, but they're more concerned about home repairs. The new report from Real Estate Witch -- titled "Everything You Need to Know About Haunted Real Estate & Halloween in the Age of COVID-19" -- also found that one out of three Americans would buy a haunted house, maybe, but that 40% just flat-out wouldn't, if they knew about it.
Real Estate Witch is a real website -- it's a sister site of the Clever real estate listing company -- and this was a real survey, Clever says, conducted among 1,500 Americans online on Sept. 25. Each respondent answered up to 20 questions about their beliefs in the supernatural, home search preferences, and, naturally, Halloween, says the report's author, Clever data scientist Francesca Ortegren.
How unexpected housemates make themselves known
Nearly 70% of the respondents who claimed to have lived in a haunted house said they didn't know it when they moved in, Ortegren says.
There are disclosure laws around that unsettling topic in 14 states, the report says, but most of the respondents said they wouldn't disclose that fact, and if they would, it would only be because they had to, and even then, that was less than half of the respondents.
So, buyer beware, it sounds like. Learning about it later sounds unpleasant. Levitating objects and the feeling of being touched were tied at the top for experiences that would make someone move out. Ghost sightings, cold and hot spots in the room, and freaked-out pets were also on the list.
But a lot of the respondents said they wouldn't give up without a fight.
Locked in a smudge match that could pay off at the sale
While more than one in four respondents said they would move out of their homes immediately if they learned their home was haunted, the majority would stay and:
- Cleanse the home via smudging (33%)
- Exorcise the home (23%)
- Try to make contact with the ghosts (19%)
- Make the home more comfortable for the ghosts (17%)
- Salt entryways (16%)
- Remodel (12%)
If they do decide to bolt, a house's history -- such as hosting an "unnatural" death or being reported or considered haunted -- can definitely be a financial factor, Ortegren points out, such as the $200,000 less than asking price the Amityville Horror House in New York most recently brought.
But, perhaps showing that pretty much everyone has a price, the Clever data scientist adds this: "People would buy a haunted house if it was for a much lower price (73%), they were convinced the ghosts were friendly (58%), or the house was in a safer neighborhood (49%)."
Good schools really mean a lot, and so do needed repairs
The report also goes deeply into attitudinal differences between boomers and millennials based on real-world experience.
While millennial respondents were three times more likely than boomers to say they would buy a haunted house if it's in a good school district, the older set was somewhat more afraid of home repair issues than their younger counterparts.
And regardless of age, 93% of the respondents said they find some material issues more worrisome than pesky (or even terrifying) poltergeists.
The top seven among the horrors that would thwart a sale on this side of the vale of tears:
- Mold (68%)
- Foundation issues (64%)
- Termites (61%)
- Asbestos (61%)
- Leaky roof (57%)
- Water damage (57%)
- Lead paint (54%)
"Ghosts, creepy neighbors, and wallpaper aren't the only deal breakers prospective homebuyers consider in their home search," Ortegren notes.
Halloween relief for the lonely (and not so alone)
Ortegren also reports that "17% of respondents said they have experienced supernatural events more often than before the pandemic because they've been spending a lot more time at home alone (or not so alone)."
Halloween could provide a night of respite there, although not as much as in years past.
"Despite the CDC's categorization of trick-or-treating as a moderate- to high-risk activity, 60% of those with children said they're still trick-or-treating this year the same as normal (27%) or with additional safety precautions (33%)," Ortegren writes.
There also will be fewer people willing to answer the door because of the pandemic, so if you're among that cautious crowd, you could spend the evening with the porch light off reading this whole blog post.
It's long, very detailed, and really interesting, and a good read if you want to sit a spell…and risk having one cast on you for being stingy with the Snickers.
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