Should You Buy a Haunted House?
Spooky houses look like they haven’t seen a living occupant, gardener or handyman in years. Many so-called haunted houses are so dilapidated they look occupied by ghosts, or they’ve been on the market so long, buyers suspect there’s a skeleton hidden in the closet. But that house for sale that gives you the creeps may actually turn out to be a good investment.
So what makes a house seem haunted? It could be the tumbleweed landscaping,worn trim paint, broken steps or crooked roof—, material problems that can easily be repaired or replaced. But a house can also carry a stigma (which has nothing to do with the home’s structure) that evokes fear or repulsion, including a history of death within the home from murder, suicide or suspicious circumstances. The house could previously be occupied by an unsavory hoarder, drug dealer or occultist. Or, there could be a real ghost.
Would you be able to look past a home’s creepy appearance or scary reputation? According to Realtor.com, nearly half of homebuyers wouldn’t touch a haunted house, but one in three buyers would purchase one if they could get a lower price.
That spells opportunity, especially if the home is in a nice neighborhood. If your low offer is accepted, get an inspection and renovation estimate from a local contractor. If the total costs are lower than or equal to the other home values in the area, you could end up with the friendliest bargain on the block.
Super Sleuth Your Next House
You’re ready to make an offer on a home. You’ve got the seller’s disclosure of material (physical and environmental) defects, but is that all the information you need to move forward? Before you sign your purchase offer, do a little quick research.
Get a loss history report. The Insurance Information Instituteadvises homebuyers to obtain a loss history report from the seller. This LexisNexis free service tracks hazard insurance claims. You’ll learn when the roof was replaced from hail damage but also if there have been any water leaks or other damage. During the home inspection phase, you can see how the damage was corrected.
Check Housefax.com. – Your first Property History Report is free and includes property details and building permits, among other information, so you can learn whether that room addition was done by professionals.
Visit DiedinHouse.com. For $11.99, you’ll receive an instant report that reveals if there’ve been any deaths in the home, because in many states, anything that isn’t a material fact doesn’t need to be disclosed to you. You’ll also learn if there’s been any fire damage, and whether the property was ever used as a meth lab. It also alerts you to nearby sex offenders.
Ask for an updated CMA. Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional can provide you with an up-to-the-minute comparable market analysis (CMA) report. You’ll soon know if there’s been a change in the marketplace, such as new listings or solds that can help you decide how much money to offer.