Although 75% of Americans say they believe otherworldly beings exist in 2023 — up from 69% in 2022 — they also say the most frightening part of owning a home is still the cost.
Turns out, a leaky roof is much scarier than any ghost.
Half of the homeowners surveyed say they’re more afraid of unexpected expenses, followed by 46% who said high interest rates were more frightening, and 42% who worry they cannot pay their mortgage.
To keep the costs of purchasing a home low in an expensive market, 52% of Americans did say they would risk buying a haunted house, according to a new study from Real Estate Witch and Estate Media, the first personality-driven media company for the real estate business.
About 29% of Americans believe they have already lived in a real haunted house, with young homeowners two times more likely to think they have roomed with ghosts. Some 35% of millennials believe they have lived in a haunted house, compared to just 15% of boomers.
“My personal belief is that all humans carry energy, and I believe that we leave residual energy any place we’ve been,” says Cindy Hagley, a California-based real estate agent who has sold stigmatized properties. “Some of the energy we leave may be more intense than other energy, depending on the situation and circumstances. When intense energy is rooted in a particular property, this could be interpreted as haunted.”
Buying a haunted house could be a good way to save money on a home purchase, but 55% of homeowners who have lived with supernatural roomies said they wouldn’t buy another house they knew was haunted.
Buying a Haunted House
Interestingly, more than one in four owners of a haunted house knew the home was haunted and chose to buy it anyway.
If they had to pick between living with otherworldly houseguests or saving money, many Americans would choose the cash. The number one reason Americans purchased a haunted house was its lower price, followed by more square footage, a larger yard, and a better school district.
However, the percentage of people willing to live with a ghost in exchange for a lower price or another benefit is falling rapidly. In 2022, 69% of respondents said they’d opt for a haunted house if it came with certain advantages, while only 40% said the same in 2023.
As home prices continue to rise along with interest rates, buyers are becoming more selective.
A Frightening Surprise
Among Americans who have lived in a haunted house, 73% say they had no idea they were purchasing a home with supernatural beings.
Although popular house-hunting social media accounts, such as Zillowtastrophes, highlight monstrously outdated carpeting and ghoulish color schemes, they don’t mention ghosts more than official home listings, discouraging unconventional disclosures.
About 53% of homeowners realized their house was haunted when they heard strange noises, and 47% felt they were being touched or watched. An additional 41% saw shadows around the home, and 41% experienced eerie or haunted feelings in certain rooms.
More than one-third of homeowners claim to have seen a ghost in their home.
Disclosing Ghosts in the Home
When homeowners discovered their home was haunted, 57% claim their home scared them, and 45% dreaded returning home.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, 68% of Americans believe the government should require sellers to disclose a haunted home. One of the thornier questions is when sellers should tell buyers about the presence of a ghost. If they admit it up front, they could, well, scare off buyers.
Hagley has a strategy for this exact situation. She usually keeps the ghost under wraps until the latter part of the deal.
“It isn’t mentioned until we get to the disclosure part of the transaction,” she shares.
Her reasons are twofold: If she puts the haunting in the listing, gawkers come to the showings. Waiting to disclose the haunting until the end of the transaction avoids creating a spectacle, and buyers who are almost at the finish line are less likely to walk away from a deal over an alleged haunting.
Fleeing a Haunted House
For every American ready and willing to live with a ghost, there’s one who’d be out the door at the first sign of anything spooky. Nearly a third of respondents said they’d move if they learned their house was haunted.
Other homeowners would take drastic measures to expel the spirits. About 39% said they’d cleanse the home, while 18% said they’d conduct an exorcism. Another 18% said they’d try to contact the ghosts, while 14% said they’d remodel their home.
Only 16% said they’d try and accommodate their supernatural guests by making the home more comfortable for the ghosts.