Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Houses that go bump in the night

You've taken a listing on an old house that looks like the Adams Family just moved out and is rumored to have more ghosts than fleas on a dog.  You're showing the house to a prospective buyer who asks if the house is haunted....  Well, what's a real estate agent to do?

In real estate parlance, this property would be called "Psychologically impacted", which under Massachusetts law, an agent is not required to disclose.  The term includes properties that are impacted due to the previous owner having certain illnesses, if the property was the scene of a murder or suicide, or if the property is said to have had "parapsychological or supernatural activity".  Seriously.   I'm not kidding. Ghosts.

However, a real estate agent must answer questions about a property honestly to the best of his/her knowledge.  So if you want to know if Lizzie Borden took an ax..., you need to ask.

At least in Massachusetts.  Other states may have other rules.

And you may want to ask.  Maybe you don't believe in ghosts, and it really doesn't matter to you whether the previous owner claimed to have seen dear deceased Uncle Henry periodically climb the stairs at 2 AM.  However...... it might matter to others who know the house's story.  It might matter enough to negatively effect the value of the home.  According to a study done by Wright State University's James Larsen and Joseph Coleman, a psychologically impacted property will take 50 percent longer to sell and will sell for an average of 2.4 percent less than comparable homes.

Not to mention the lack of privacy from gawkers.  The Lutz family claimed that they had experiences paranormal activity in their home which inspired the Amityville Horror book and movie.  When they sold the house, the new owners won a lawsuit against the Lutz', claiming that the book and movie instigated a parade of sightseers, invading their privacy.

But maybe tourism is what you are after.  The Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, MA is an operating Bed and Breakfast and conducts tours of the home to eager ghost hunters.

Here are some local B&B's that are said to have strange happenings:

The Orleans Inn:  Is it the ghost of Hannah from the days when the Inn was a brothel that lingers on?  The Inn was the subject of a paranormal investigation by TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society.  See the article in the Cape Cod Times, 4/20/10.

The Penny House Inn (Eastham):  Included in the book Haunted Houses of Cape Cod, this Inn has a Halloween special package.

The Dillingham House, Sandwich:  This Inn has long been thought of as being haunted.  Perhaps it is Branch Dillingham who committed suicide there in 1813 or one of his children.

The Beechwood Inn, Barnstable:  Read about the Mischievous Lady who haunts this Inn in an article, The Lady Vanishes, published by the Boston Globe, October 31, 2007.

While you are staying at a haunted Inn, you can join the popular haunted walking tour with the Cape and Islands Paranormal Society in Barnstable.

Happy Halloween!