Do sellers need to disclose if a home is “haunted?”

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Residential Real Estate

When in the market for a home in New York, buyers may want to know the history of a residence. This could include major renovations, damage and even significant events that occurred in a home.

But what if someone claims a house is haunted? Properties that have non-physical factors which may have psychological effects on a resident are known as “stigmatized property.” This can affect property value because of the events associated with it.

Sellers only have to disclose material defects

New York state law only requires sellers to disclose a property’s material defects to prospective buyers. Therefore, it is not necessary to disclose a supposed “haunting.”

Buyers can inquire about stigma and other non-physical information about a home during the purchasing process, but the seller can choose whether to respond.

However, take note of New York’s Ghostbuster ruling

In 1991, New York’s Supreme Court appellate division made its iconic Ghostbuster ruling. A woman marketed a home, telling the press it was haunted. A man put a down payment on the home, however, after he learned about the haunted aspects, he backed out.

The state Supreme Court considered the home “legally haunted” because the seller had already gone on record about the supernatural activity on the property. The court then allowed the man who bought the home to rescind the contract and even recover his down payment.

The law only requires sellers to disclose material defects on a property. Even then, it is a good idea to ask sellers about the history of a home you wish to purchase.