“The most famous case [regarding disclosure of haunted houses] in North America is called the Ghost of Nyack in Nyack, New York,” says Barry Lebow, an expert in stigmatized properties, adding that agents must always disclose a supposed haunted house. “A real estate agent was sued over it. You don’t have to believe [the property is haunted], the public has to believe it. That’s the only case of its kind in North America.”
In this case, homeowners did not disclose to buyers the fact that their 5,000-square foot home was haunted – a belief that was also commonly held throughout the community. Lebow says public perception is all it takes to stigmatize a property as haunted.
“A lot of times, it’s just word of mouth that makes a house haunted,” says expert Barry Lebow. “Word of mouth is the most dominate thing in stigma.”
There are similar perception-based laws in Canada. The presence of urea formaldehyde, for example, has the ability to stigmatize a house.
“There are no associated health risks but it stigmatizes these houses,” Lebow says. “[The general public] perceive it to be unhealthy.”
Still, there are buyers who are unconcerned with supposedly haunted houses, and there are others who would never step foot into a spirit-infested home. The trick for agents, Lebow says, is determining whether or not a property is stigmatized.
“In Canada, there are millions of houses,” he says, “and the question is, how many are labeled as haunted?”
You’ve disclosed the sticking windows, the old furnace and the leaky faucet – but what about the ghost that roams the halls of the house?