Do You Have to Tell Potential Buyers if You Think Your House Is Haunted?

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  • State laws generally require that home sellers make disclosures to buyers.
  • If sellers have detected paranormal activity in their home, this could be seen as a defect.
  • Sellers need to know if they are required to tell potential buyers they suspect their house is haunted. 

Sellers have to disclose certain defects to buyers. But is paranormal activity one of them? 

When you sell your home, you are in the best position to know the details about the property. As a result, many states have laws requiring you to disclose certain details about the house you are selling. Specifically, you'll likely need to explain any material defects so buyers can make an informed choice about whether to make an offer, get a mortgage, and pay you for your property.

There are certain known defects that you're generally required to report to potential buyers, such as roof leaks or problems with the foundation. But what about if you believe your house is haunted because you have experienced evidence of paranormal activity. Is this something you need to share?

What are the rules regarding a suspected haunted house?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most states do not have laws on the books that specify exactly whether a seller must disclose whether a property is haunted. However, this issue has been addressed in a limited number of locations including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

In Minnesota and Massachusetts, the law specifically indicates that paranormal activity does not have to be disclosed to potential buyers. But in New York and New Jersey, there are circumstances where this information must be shared.

In New Jersey, sellers must be truthful in reporting any ghostly activity, but only if the possible buyers ask. So those home buyers who are concerned about getting unwanted departed guests along with a new mortgage bill when buying a property should be sure to inquire about whether there are any ghosts on the premises. 

In New York, sellers who perpetuate a home's reputation for being haunted cannot turn around and sell the property to unsuspecting buyers or the courts could rescind the sale of the home. This is based on a court ruling in 1991 when a family spoke publicly about ghostly activities and then subsequently sold their house to buyers from out of town who weren't aware of its reputation. It's often referred to as the "Ghostbusters" case. 

Other states do not expressly address hauntings, but many require that sellers disclose recent deaths on the property, as well as "emotional defects" or details about stigmatized property that may lower the home's value. 

Should you disclose paranormal activity?

If you suspect your home is haunted, you may want to talk with a realtor about whether it's a good idea to tell potential buyers. You don't want to run afoul of a state law and end up with your home sale not going through or with a buyer suing for non-disclosure.

If you aren't required to disclose details about a haunting, you'll have the option to decide for yourself about whether to share information about ghostly activities. In a hot market, this may not scare off potential buyers -- and it may even entice some to come look at your space as rumors of ghosts could potentially help your property stand out from the crowd. 

Ultimately, it's up to you whether you feel it's right to share your beliefs with potential buyers if you aren't required to do so -- or if you'd rather just let them do their due diligence on their own and perhaps encounter the ghosts in their own time after moving in.

Our Research Expert

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