Superstitions, stigmas and the supernatural – whether you believe in them or not, they can have a very real impact on how long it takes to sell your home and the price you’ll get for it. As a homebuyer, even the mere thought of a haunted house can have you running for your life. With that said, there’s always an upside, and in the case of a stigmatized house, an unbothered buyer could be in store for a quick closing and a great price.
Did Someone Say *GULP* Haunted House?
Most people would agree that living in a murder house might be creepy, and it may be enough to turn buyers off, regardless of tight market conditions – which some industry observers might consider even scarier than an other-worldly house guest. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, it can impact your decision to buy or your ability to sell.
What is a “Stigmatized Property?”
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, a stigmatized property is one with “an intangible, non-physical attribute that could elicit an emotional or psychological response from a potential buyer.” Aside from past murders and current hauntings, there are some other factors that can be considered stigmatic and thus, problematic:
Some swear by numerology while others have real-to-them reasons behind their inclination toward – or against – certain numbers. So much so, that something such as a specific street address, the floor in a building, a unit number or a price tag can take some houses on the market, out of the running. In Canada, the number seven is considered to be lucky by some, while 13 is thought to bring bad mojo. To avoid unsellable units, some condo developers will omit a 13th floor in their buildings. Even a closing date of Friday the 13th can bring on bad vibes.
The principles of Feng Shui hail from Chinese culture, and focus on the arrangement of your environment to allow for a gentle flow of energy, known as “chi.” Good Feng Shui is thought to promote good health and fortune. Bad Feng Shui in a home can include a staircase facing the front door; a “poison arrow,” when a T intersection or tree is pointed at your front door; or a front door that aligns with a back door, causing chi to rush through and out – along with your luck.
What are the Rules of Disclosure?
When selling a home in most provinces, there’s no rule whereby the seller must disclose stigmas to the buyer. Quebec is the only province that requires the disclosure of “the presence of an unexplained phenomenon” to potential buyers. If this is a make-or-break factor for you, take the “buyer beware” approach. In order for buyers’ agents to serve their clients well, they should be aware of any stigma sensitivities.
Tips for Homebuyers
Since the seller has no legal obligation to disclose stigmas, concerned homebuyers should be proactive about asking questions, doing their research and, when in doubt, just ask the neighbours! This doesn’t only apply to ghosts, but can be an all-around good strategy to learn more about any home you’re considering purchasing.
Tips for Sellers
If you happen to live in a haunted house and are selling, consider applying some simple home staging strategies to downplay your home’s creepy characteristics. Paint it a fresh, bright colour inside and out. Declutter and remove personal effects, like the photos of your dead ancestors and their urns that line the fireplace mantel. If your furniture is damaged or outdated, consider renting some more-contemporary pieces to usher your home into the modern era. Of course, you’ll want to clean the place from top to bottom, to get rid of any cobwebs and skeletons in the closet. Consult a professional real estate agent to help you determine popular selling features in your area, and how you can raise your old home from the dead, so to speak.
The Up-Side of Buying a Haunted House
On the other hand, if you’re a homebuyer who’s willing to overlook some silly superstitions, stigmas and spirits, a haunted house or one located at #13 Elm Street just might offer a real steal of a deal! Connect with a RE/MAX agent to help you negotiate an offer.