Home Buyers Beware: Your Dream House Could Be Haunted—And You’d Never Know
In most states, home sellers don’t have to disclose paranormal activity.
Before you buy a new home, you’ll likely ask the seller questions about the neighborhood, any major repairs, and the condition of important features, like the roof and foundation. One question you might not think to ask: Is this house haunted? And even if you did inquire about ghostly goings-on, sellers in most states aren’t required to spill the spooky details.
In fact, only four states—Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York—even mention paranormal activity in their real estate disclosure laws, according to a state-by-state analysis conducted by Zillow. But that doesn’t necessarily mean homeowners and real estate agents there have to divulge a home’s haunted reputation.
In Minnesota, sellers are only required to disclose facts that could affect the buyer’s use or enjoyment of the home, which, according to the law, does not include “perceived paranormal activity.” Massachusetts laws also explicitly state that details about a “psychologically affected” property need not be shared with potential buyers.
In New Jersey and New York, however, the laws are a bit better suited for home buyers looking to avoid any haunted happenings. New York state courts can cancel a home sale if the seller takes advantage of a would-be buyer’s lack of knowledge about the home’s sinister reputation—and if the seller is responsible for perpetuating that reputation. For New Jersey real estate, if you ask about a poltergeist presence on the property, the seller is required by law to answer truthfully.
But if you're considering buying a home in any of the other 46 states, watch out for creepy occurrences while you tour the place. Keeping paranormal activity under wraps is totally permissible, so you might want to do your own ghost hunting before you put in your offer.