How To Sell A Haunted House in Florida
HOW TO SELL A HAUNTED HOUSE IN FLORIDA
Every house has a history, but what if the house you’re trying to sell has a history that is a bit more…ghoulish than most? Perhaps a haunted house? If you or your community believes a house is haunted, it can make selling a bit more difficult. However, there a several options for someone with a spooky property to sell. Just follow a few simple steps to get that haunted house off your hands. The first thing you will want to establish is if you are required to inform potential buyers of their future paranormal roommates. To answer that, you will want to consult your Realtor® about your state’s disclosure laws. “Haunted houses fall into the category of stigmatized properties, Elizabeth Lewis, Broker Owner at Real-ativity. “Laws vary by state, so you may be required to inform buyers in writing of any possible problems.”
SELLING A HAUNTED HOUSE IN FLORIDA
If you are looking to list a haunted house in Florida, you're in luck. Florida seller disclosure laws don't require you to disclose the presence of your ghostly inhabitants. In fact, there are no questions on the Florida Seller's Disclosure Form 2021 that relate to deaths, murders, massacres, or seances that have occurred in the property. Florida Statute 689.25 states, "the fact that a property was, or was at any time suspected to have been, the site of a homicide, suicide, or death is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction.” However, Florida law does require certain disclosures, the Standard Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase includes the following statement, “Seller knows of no facts materially affecting the value of the Real Property which are not readily observable and which have not been disclosed to Buyer”, and many contracts even include a Seller Disclosure Form. Florida law provides that, with some exceptions, a home seller must disclose any facts or conditions about a property that has a substantial impact on its value that others cannot easily observe themselves. Whether it's spooky arcing wiring in the basement, or musty mold damage due to moisture, or Creepy bugs (like termites or other wood-destroying organisms) there’s a disclosure form for that. So if you get a home inspection to determine the source of those creeks in the night and a foundation problem, insect or rodent infestation, or construction issue is discovered, you will need to disclose this defect to the buyer.
What about issues with the property that aren’t so apparent — more psychological, stigmatized… or even hauntings? Sometimes a home has a specter of mysterious issues. So what happens when your walk-through feels like a reenactment of the Exorcist or when you see the Candyman in the mirror?
WELL- let's start with a definition: A stigmatized property is any building that has a detrimental issue that is not related to the physical condition of the house. This might be a haunting history – say, a murder or suicide on the premises – or even a specter of the belief that the house has a supernatural stalker. In Florida, disclosure laws are vague when it comes to disclosing stigmatized events. The law states that the seller has no obligation to disclose any sort of death or crime that occurred on the property. When it comes to paranormal hauntings though, it’s very subjective.
Juana Watkins, general counsel and vice president of Law & Policy for Florida Realtors, says the duty to disclose depends on the beliefs of the parties involved. “Haunting or unexplainable activity on the property is not a condition that has been well litigated through the courts, so the duty to disclose is not clear, Whether a buyer or seller believes in paranormal activity will likely shape their view on whether this is a known fact. In short, it depends.”
Even if you don’t have to disclose a Florida haunted house, it’s still a good idea to give your buyers a heads up. “If your house is known around the community to be haunted, the spooks will eventually let the buyer know,” said Lewis. “It can create a lot of goodwill if you tell potential buyers to expect a couple of bumps in the night.”
NICHE MARKET FOR HAUNTED HOUSES
There is a chance that your haunted house may even be a selling point. “Strange as it may sound, there are people who would love to live in a haunted house,” said Lewis. A survey from realtor.com®, revealed that nearly 60% of respondents would consider buying a haunted house. “You can work with a Realtor® to tap into that market in your community, perhaps marketing to clubs or organizations with an interest in the supernatural.”
There are buyers who seek out haunted houses to make a profit off of this spooky niche. Haunted houses on Airbnb do quite well booking rentals to brave souls, especially during the Halloween season. There are also haunted Bed & Breakfasts throughout the country that advertises ghostly encounters to lure supernatural enthusiasts to their business. You can Google haunted Airbnb's and Bed & Breakfasts to compile a list of potential buyers.
A homeowner in Pensacola, FL just sold a Victorian home known as the "Finch House" that is rumored to have a ghostly inhabitant named Fred. His agent marketed the home as a destination on the Pensacola Ghost Tour. The home was listed for $750k in May of 2021 and sold in October for $695k. While 92.6% of the list price might not be considered a major success in today's seller's market, the seller did pretty well when comparable sales in the area are taken into account. Plus... he did make it out alive!
If you can’t find an amateur paranormal investigator to buy your house, it might be time to lower the price. A realtor.com® survey showed that 40% of buyers would require a price reduction in order to choose a haunted home over a non-haunted home. “If you’ve tried everything to and nothing has worked, bringing the selling price down might be your only option,” said Lewis. “If ghosts and ghouls have generated interest in your property then a bargain price should do the trick.”
Selling slightly below market value did the trick for the Maryland home that inspired the movie The Exorcist. The sellers were not required to disclose that an exorcism had been performed in the home, and the buyers, Danielle Witt and Ben Rockey-Harris were not aware of the demonic digs when they submitted their offer. As soon as they were informed that their offer had been accepted, the couple Googled the address and discovered the haunting history. While the buyers could have canceled the contract, they decided to move ahead with the purchase because it was such a great deal at $50,000 below market value. While the couple does maintain some concerns about their resale value, they have settled into their new home and even plan to provide trick or treaters with an Exorcist-themed Halloween this year.
Be sure that you consult your real estate agent regarding state laws for stigmatized properties before listing your haunted house for sale. If you live in a state like Florida that does not require the disclosure of stigmatized properties, honesty may still be the best policy. If your ghosts are well known in the community, you could face a slew of contract cancellations that are costly and time-consuming. You may even market the property as haunted to tap into a niche market of investors looking to make a buck off of supernatural enthusiasts with Airbnb rentals and Bed & Breakfasts. Just go in knowing that a price reduction may be necessary and be sure that you disclose all material defects to avoid the horror of being sued.