This little interview is way over due and my only excuse is that I’ve just now rediscovered where I’d misplaced the notes.
Though most states do not require a homeowner to disclose any alleged paranormal activity in or around their home should they decide to sell it, one article that I discovered strongly suggests doing so to avoid things coming back to “haunt” you later. Few states require paranormal disclosures because it is not material information. Other such information would be a pending divorce of the current residents, any illnesses within the family or reasons why the house is for sale.
One would assume this is not a requirement to disclose because it’s something that might or might not have truly happened to the seller and might or might not happen with the new owners. Paranormal experiences appear to be purely subjective in nature. However, if a death occurs in a home, that’s another matter altogether. California Civil Code 1710.2 states death on a property need not be disclosed if it occurred more than three years prior to the sale. The statute does require disclosure of a death more than three years old if the buyer asks.
About a year ago, one of the Witching Hour contributors bought a new home, so I thought I’d ask her about her thoughts on this topic and how it related to her house hunting.
Q. When you decided to begin house hunting, what were some of your priorities for the ideal house?
A. It had to be a 3-bedroom, at least. Preferably 4. We preferred that it was located in the same area where we lived, so the kids didn’t have to change schools. It had to have a yard for Acorn [family dog], preferably fenced already. It had to have a 2-car garage. It had to be in a nice neighbourhood, where people weren’t letting their houses go to ruin. And it had to be relatively modernized, so we would have to do any heavy remodeling.
Q. I know you’re a paranormal enthusiast like me, so I have to ask if the paranormal ever came to mind when you were searching. Did it come into play at all in terms of either actively searching for a house that was or, preferably, was not allegedly haunted?
A. Honestly, as interested in the paranormal as I am, I did not want to live in a haunted house. The thought did corss my mind, certainly. I preferred a newer home, which theoreitcally would have less of a chance for it to be haunted. I actually mentioned to my realtor that I kind of wanted her to ask whether there had been paranormal events noticed in the home… especially after the incident with the tv turning on by itself during our second tour of the home, but she didn’t take me seriously. The house we bought was built in 1964, so it’s had 46 years to rack up ghosts.
Q. Do you know the laws regarding whether a seller has to disclose any claims of the paranormal or any paranormal inducing activities in a home’s past? i.e. do they have to tell you that a murder took place there?
A. According to our realtor, there are sellers disclosures that the seller of course must disclose any matterialy known facts about the house. Once upon a time sellers had to disclose if a person was murdered or if someone in the house died of AIDS, but in last year’s update of the contract, they are no longer required to do so. As far as paranormal activities, I don’t believe that they ever had to disclose that information, at least not that I’m aware of.
Q. So if you had discovered or ever do discover something negative happened in the house in the last 46 years – or even prior to that if something else occupied the land – whether it was murder or satanic ritual or anything that you might construe as negative, what would your plan of action be?
A. If I just discovered it by hearing of the incident through neighborly gossip or finding an old news article, I don’t think I would be overly perturbed. If I discovered the incident because of paranormal occurrences in my home, I would definitely have to take some action. I would first try to cleanse the home myself, using sage and salt and, if needed, by telling whatever it was that was sharing my home that it had to leave. If that still didn’t work, I would ask advice from my friends who frequent paranormal boards. And if all else failed, I would call in a local paranormal team. Hopefully one with a cleanser on board.
Q. And finally, do you think it’s right that most states require sellers to disclose any paranormal related information?
A. I’m actually surprised that they do.
In my opinion, I think the best policy is to disclose a possible haunting only when asked. There are so many instances that one family is plauged by ghosts and they sell the house and the next family has no problem. I think some people are more sensitive to the presence of ghosts and some people just don’t have the ability to experience them. So the buyers might never encounter anything, even if the house was teeming with ghosts.
However, if you tell a person that the house they’re thinking of buying has a history of haunting, then every creak and squeak may be interpreted to the paranormal. There’s also always the threat that the buyers will think you’re nuts if they are total skeptics!
I think I’d just rather not know and find out for myself if the house is haunted. That’s just me. I know if someone told me they saw a ghost in my house, I’d lay awake at night, just listening. And most likely invent my own haunting in my head.