Make Sure The Home You Buy Isn’t HAUNTED
Over the next couple of weeks, chances are you will be seeing some rather spooky and supernatural depictions as you drive around the neighbourhoods of Durham. Hallowe’en is just around the corner so expect to see ghosts and goblins everywhere. But all kidding aside, would you ever consider living in a house that has a reputation for being ‘haunted’? ‘Psychological stigmas’ do exist in real estate and are worth consideration when buying a home.
A psychological stigma is a non-physical element of a property. It could be the idea that it is haunted, or was owned previously by someone who was notorious for some terrible crime. Stigmas are based on people’s perceptions and individual beliefs. There is no one right or wrong opinion. A house that sends one perspective buyer running and screaming for their holy water may be just the exact fit for another. They key is make sure that your real estate agent is aware of all the criteria for the property you are looking for.
By law, sellers are required to disclose known latent physical defects of a property, say a cracked foundation, but there is no legal requirement to disclose stigmas about a property, say like it’s haunted. Depending of what the instructions are of a seller, if the seller’s agent is asked about a particular stigma regarding a home, they may refuse to answer and suggest that the buyer do some research on their own. If buyers have a concern about the stigma of a property that they potentially want to put an offer on, it is advisable to talk to the neighbours, do an internet search of the property, and dig up as much information as possible regarding the stigma before entering into a contractual agreement to buy it.
Communication is the key in dealing with stigmas. The buyer’s agent is obligated to make his/her best efforts to find a property that meets the buyers wants and needs. However given all of the possible stigmas that may be attached to a property, it is impossible for a real estate agent to sift through them all. Before even going to look at properties, part of the conversation between a buyer and their agent should include stigmas. If there was a death at the property would it matter if it was by natural causes? What about a murder or suicide? What if that death occurred decades ago? These types of questions will help clarify what are deal breakers for some buyers and not for others.
At the end of the day, stigmas and properties fall under the ‘Buyer Beware’ category. It is up to the potential buyer and their agent to do as much research as possible, ask the seller and their agent specific questions, and even inserting a ‘Representation/warranty’ clause into any agreement to purchase. Because although ghosts and goblins do enhance our Hallowe’en experience, you really don’t want them as long term tenants.