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Would You Buy A Haunted House?

by Bruce Haring

Halloween, the official holiday of ghosts and haunted houses, may have passed but if you’re in the market for a new house, the idea of sharing your home with the spirit of a former resident that has since passed over is another story entirely.  Yet believe it or not, there are home buyers out there who like the idea of hosting an otherworldly resident.

This ad, for instance, might attract certain house hunters in the Port Townsend, Washington area…or paranormal enthusiasts who are willing to move.

“For Sale: Beautiful 5,796 sq. ft. Queen Ann mansion on 8,600 sq. ft. lot.  Built in 1889, this elegant home boasts a winding staircase, formal entry, 70-ft tower, 8 BR and 8 baths.  $850,000.  Ghost included.”

Now if those last two words were enough to stop you cold, you certainly aren’t alone.  You may love walking through a good haunted house at Halloween. And who doesn’t love Disney’s Haunted Mansion?  But owning a haunted house is an entirely different matter.

The Port Townsend home is the former Ann Starrett mansion, built by George Starrett for his beloved wife.  According to reports the ghostly encounters seem to be warm and friendly ones.  A relief—but probably not enough to make most people want to share living space with these former long-dead residents.

Then again, you never know.  What deters some people is exactly what appeals to others. One New Jersey couple was looking at a 111-year-old Victorian home when they casually asked the seller if there were any ghosts.  The seller, who had been debating about whether to share the information, which she thought was guaranteed to kill any sale or at the very least cause a significant drop in price, cautiously answered in the affirmative. The buyers were intrigued, and made an offer on the spot—at the full asking price.

Now if you happen to own a home with strange noises, cold patches and misplaced objects, keep in mind that this example is not the norm. Those buyers were brave souls, known for their elaborate Halloween parties and love of mysteries.  The ghosts just added to the value.

In addition, there are occasional buyers who love a specific house so much they’ll decide to overlook the presence of a ghost.  There are also a few who are actively looking for a house with a ghost because it’s unique.

Paranormal experts say that there are definitely people who like the idea of living with ghosts.  In fact, according to a 2013 “Haunted Housing Report” by realtor.com, a surprising 62% of prospective home buyers said they’d consider buying a haunted home.   Apparently, as long as the ghost wasn’t a victim, or perpetrator, of a violent event, most spirits are either simply a benign presence or even outwardly protective of the family currently living in the house.  Some buyers report feeling a sense of peace or calm with benevolent spirits watching over them.

Yet another group of haunted house buyers are just looking for a good business investment.  Large Victorians with multiple bedrooms, for instance, are the perfect setting for a bed and breakfast.  Even if most people don’t want to live in a haunted house of their own, there seems to be a solid market for guests who think it might be fun to spend a night or two in a comfortable B&B – complete with a great ghost story to take home and share with their friends.

Would you?

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