Growing up in Indianapolis, I often heard the story about the House of Blue Lights
Is Your Home Haunted? It was the story of a rich young widower who was so pained by the death of his bride that he had her placed in a glass coffin lit by blue lights and kept her in one of the upper rooms. At night the blue light would emanate from the window out into the darkness. And every night he would go to her room to talk with her and say good night.
Of course the story wasn’t true, but it made for a good chill as we’d drive by the house on a dark night. Pretty much any where you live there’s a good story about a haunted house in the neighborhood. Even today, there’s a vacant house in my neighborhood, and my kids always ask me if they can go to the “haunted house” to play. I’m not too concerned because the house is hardly five years old and boasts no paranormal activity to my knowledge. But it’s fun for the kids to pretend.
Of course if you’re trying to sell your home, the fact that your home may be haunted could create a problem. Often a seller or their agent is not required to disclose if a property is stigmatized unless the buyer asks. But once asked, the seller needs to reveal the stigma which can range from the fact that someone was killed in the home or it used to be a crack house or the home is haunted.Of course that may be exactly what the buyer is looking for.
When the issue is a haunted house, it’s pretty subjective. While some people are strong believers in the spirit world and the presence of ghostly beings, other people never give it a second thought. So how do you disclose that your house is haunted when you don’t believe it is? Good question. The answer is that it’s probably best to err on the safe side. If you think your home is haunted or the neighbors talk about your home being haunted, you may be better off disclosing it to the buyer. Why? Take a look at the New York case Stambovsky v. Ackley, where a buyer of a home in Nyack, NY discovered that the house he had recently contracted to purchase was widely reputed to be possessed by poltergeists. Even the seller and members her family had reportedly seen the ghosts on numerous occasions over a nine year period. As a result, the buyer was able to rescind his contract (following a long court battle) because as the court said, “the most meticulous inspection and the search would not reveal the presence of poltergeists at the premises or unearth the property’s ghoulish reputation in the community. Therefore, there is no sound policy reason to deny plaintiff relief for failing to discover a state of affairs which the most prudent purchaser would not be expected to even contemplate.” Stambovsky v. Ackley, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672, 676 (N.Y.A.D. 1991).
So what does all that really mean? It means that if your home is haunted or has the reputation of being haunted, you should probably call the Ghostbusters to de-poltergeist your home or be ready to disclose the stigma to your buyer.
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Jack and Elisabeth