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Selling a Haunted House? Here's What You Need to Know

Zillow analysis finds most states don't require home sellers to disclose paranormal activity to buyers

SEATTLE, Oct. 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Your dream home may be haunted, and in most states, sellers don't have to say boo about it.   

Ahead of Halloween, Zillow scared up a state-by-state analysis and found only four deal with paranormal activity in their real estate disclosure laws: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

In New York state, courts will rescind a home sale if the seller creates and perpetuates a reputation that the house is haunted and then takes unfair advantage of a buyer's ignorance of the home's ghostly reputation. For example, if you invite reality television ghost hunters to your home, then later sell your poltergeist palace to an unwitting buyer who prefers sitcoms, a court could make that sale vanish. 

In New Jersey, a seller must truthfully tell a buyer if their property comes with phantom roommates –  only if asked. 

Many states have statutes that say property facts that could cause "stigma" or "psychological impact" need not be disclosed. Massachusetts and Minnesota deliberately mention paranormal or supernatural activity as a "psychologically affected" attribute that does not need to be disclosed.   

Some real estate agents say haunted properties present other challenges that can scare off buyers.    

"I worked with a seller who claimed their house was haunted by a ghost who lived in the basement," says Jennifer Stauter Kornstedt, a Zillow Premier Agent in Wisconsin. "When I arrived for the open house, I heard banging noises coming from the basement. I went to investigate but could not find the source of the noise. Then the phone rang three times with only static on the other end."

Stauter Kornstedt says she and the seller agreed to disclose the creepy companion to any potential buyer even though they didn't have to under to Wisconsin law. Ultimately, the homeowners decided to stay in their house, but Stauter Kornstedt says she's been spooked ever since.

Nine states have laws around the disclosure of a death on the property. In California, sellers must disclose a death on the property within 3 years. In Alaska, a death within one year must be disclosed. In South Dakota, sellers must disclose a homicide on the property.  

In Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Carolina, sellers must disclose a death on the property only if asked. 

So, if you own a home in Texas that was the scene of a chainsaw massacre in 1974, you can keep that your own little secret. 

State

Direct Mention
to Paranormal
Activity in State
Law?

Court Decisions
related to
Paranormal Activity

Statutory Language

Alabama

No

A court ruled that a  seller must disclose any material (important) defect or condition that (1) affects health or safety and (2) is unknown to the buyer

N/A

Alaska

No

N/A

Seller must disclose, if knows, murder or suicide on property w/in last year. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

Arizona

No

A court ruled that a  seller must disclose important facts that might negatively affect the value of the property.

N/A

Arkansas

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property (Homicide/suicide). Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

California

No

A court ruled that a death on property may be material if the death has a major effect on the value of the property

Seller must disclose death on property w/in last 3 years

Colorado

No

N/A

Facts that could cause psychological impact or stigma, such as death, are NOT required to be disclosed. Paranormal activity likely not required to be disclosed

Connecticut

No

N/A

Unimportant facts, such as death (and although no caselaw, likely paranormal activity) don't need to be disclosed. Seller must tell buyer about murder or suicide if buyer asks.

Delaware

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property. Seller must answer truthfully if buyer asks about psychological impacts. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

District of Columbia

No

N/A

N/A

Florida

No

N/A

Unimportant facts, such as deaths, don't need to be disclosed

Georgia

No

N/A

Seller not required to disclose deaths but should respond truthfully if asked

Hawaii

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose any occurrence that had no effect on the physical structure or the physical environment of the property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

Idaho

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

Illinois

No

N/A

N/A

Indiana

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

Iowa

No

N/A

N/A

Kansas

No

N/A

Seller only needs to disclose important physical facts about property. Paranormal, Stigma, or psychologic impacts NOT mentioned

Kentucky

No

N/A

N/A

Louisiana

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

Maine

No

N/A

N/A

Maryland

No

N/A

N/A

Massachusetts

Yes

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property, including an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.

Michigan

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose any fact that had no important effect on condition of property.

Minnesota

Yes

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose any fact that doesn't affect buyer's use or enjoyment of the property, including "perceived paranormal activity ..."

Mississippi

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose fact that a death occurred on property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

Missouri

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

Montana

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose any fact that had no important effect on condition of property.

Nebraska

No

N/A

N/A

Nevada

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose fact that a death occurred on property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

New Hampshire

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose fact that a homicide or suicide occurred on property. Seller must disclose if buyer asks. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

New Jersey

Yes

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose "psychological impairments" (murder, suicide, or "a property purportedly being haunted"). Seller should disclose known info if buyer asks

New Mexico

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose fact that a homicide or suicide occurred on property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

New York

Yes

Referring to paranormal activity at a home, courts will rescind the sale if the seller (1) takes unfair advantage of buyer's ignorance as to the house's reputation [of paranormal activity] and (2) the seller herself creates and perpetuates that reputation.

Excluding case law, a seller doesn't need to disclose that the house was site of homicide, suicide, or accident.

North Carolina

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose fact that a death occurred on property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

North Dakota

No

N/A

N/A

Ohio

No

N/A

N/A

Oklahoma

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property. Seller must disclose if buyer asks and a suicide or homicide on property is important to decision. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

Oregon

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose any fact that had no important effect on condition of property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

Pennsylvania

No

A court ruled that purely psychological stigmas are not important defects of property that sellers must disclose to buyers.

N/A

Rhode Island

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

South Carolina

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose psychologically affected property (death or manner of death). Seller must disclose if buyer asks about psychological impacts. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

South Dakota

No

N/A

Seller must disclose if homicide occurred on property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

Tennessee

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose any act/occurrence that had no effect on physical structure of property, or that there was a homicide or suicide on property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned.

Texas

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose fact that a death occurred on property. Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

Utah

No

N/A

Seller doesn't need to disclose fact that property is "stigmatized." Paranormal activity NOT mentioned

Vermont

No

N/A

N/A

Virginia

No

N/A

N/A

Washington

No

N/A

N/A

West Virginia

No

N/A

N/A

Wisconsin

No

N/A

N/A

Wyoming

No

N/A

N/A

About Zillow
Zillow® is transforming how people buy, sell, rent and finance homes by creating seamless real estate transactions for today's on-demand consumer. Zillow is the leading real estate and rental marketplace and a trusted source for data, inspiration and knowledge among both consumers and real estate professionals. 

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