a couple in bed pulling the sheets up to their eyeballs, looking scared

Are You Buying A Haunted House? Know the frightening facts.

Adjusting to a new home can be tough. Especially at night, when unfamiliar creaks and noises can rattle your nerves.

Is that someone walking on the roof under the full moon? What are those footsteps coming towards me in the middle of the night?

In my case, these late-night terrors turned out to be turkeys and a toddler.

But what if it were something else? What if you believe the cause of your uneasiness can’t be explained by old plumbing and drafty windows? And how does this concern affect your legal rights and responsibilities when buying or selling your home?

When it comes to ghosts, ghouls, and goblins — or other unsettling facts about a property — Massachusetts real estate law says it’s the buyer who should beware. According to Mass. General Laws, Chapter 93, Section 114:

“The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction.”

The law defines psychologically impacted property as real property that was the site of a “…felony, suicide or homicide” or “an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.”

In other words, the Seller – or their agent — does not have the duty to disclose if the furniture tends to rearrange itself or why the dog won’t go near the basement.

Important: Just because the Seller doesn’t have to volunteer that information does not mean you don’t have the right to ask. And if you do ask, they cannot lie to you or misrepresent the truth.

Thanks to movies like Poltergeist and the Amityville Horror, and reality shows about paranormal investigators, questions about a home’s spiritual health are more common than ever. Besides, this is New England, where homes can date back hundreds of years and Salem isn’t the only place haunted by history.

Assuming that “haunted” isn’t a must-have on your home search checklist, how can you protect yourself from unwanted surprises?

  • Research the property address online and in public records for any news.
  • Be sure to ask the Seller or their agent any questions whose answers are important to you.

What if you don’t find out your house is haunted until after you close and move in? One popular approach is to perform a spiritual housecleaning.

A quick online search will reveal more options than you expect — from traditional religious ceremonies and services from mediums and feng shui practitioners to do-it-yourself instructions for removing negative energy and vibrations.

If that doesn’t seem to work, let me suggest a more practical solution. Move! Quickly. Just don’t lie when your Buyers ask if your home is haunted.

One more thing…

After conducting extensive research on the subject, I can advise with reasonably certainty about the best way to ensure that buying a home this fall doesn’t keep you up all night: Halloween candy for your closing attorney. Especially chocolate. And marshmallowy stuff. (Just sayin’.)