So there you are, winding down the evening on the couch, getting ready to turn off Netflix and turn in for the night when you hear something in the next room. Is the window open? Did a critter get inside?
IS THERE SOMEONE IN THE HOUSE??!!
If you’re freaked out and wondering if you could be in the presence of something otherworldly, you’re in good company. According to the New York Times, “Half of all Americans believe in paranormal phenomena.” A Harris Poll says, specifically, that “about 45 percent of people believe in ghosts,” and that “almost 30 percent of the respondents said they believed that they’d personally been in the presence of a ghost.”
To figure out whether what you’re experiencing is the real deal, first, use some expert tips to rule out other sensible explanations. “If your house is also home to a ghost, it should be somewhat easy to identify,” said Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure’s resident astrologer. Her “five ways you can tell whether your house is haunted” include: “unexplained temperature changes, strange technological glitches, unusual scents, object movement or unidentifiable sounds, and pets making contact.”
If you nodded your head to at least a few of those, well, congratulations—or, sorry—your house might actually be haunted. So now what do you do?
What do you do if you think your home is haunted?
Definitely not this.
“Wicca seems to be favored by many as a way to ward off spirits, and the burning of sage and along with prayer is one such practice,” said The Mirror. They warn against using a Ouija board or having a séance to try to contact the spirit, “unless you are fully trained in these methods.”
You can, however, reach out to a paranormal investigator. Think Ghostbusters without Bill Murray, or the cool car. Volunteer paranormal investigation organizations “have proliferated across the country in recent years, thanks largely to the popularity of reality TV shows such as Syfy’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ and TLC’s ‘Paranormal Lockdown,’” said Realtor.com. “The current crop of ghostbusters don’t use proton packs and Ecto Containment Units like in the movie. Some use tape recorders and electromagnetic meters. Others help wayward souls cross over by reciting incantations or prayers. And some just opt for some good, old-fashioned Ouija board burnings.”
What do you do if you think your home is haunted…and you want to sell it?
Greenfield, MA-based HouseHealing.com is one such Ghostbusting resource, led by David Franklin Farkas. Farkas calls himself a “professional house healer and ghost rescuer,” and a “Technician of the Sacred” who has been ridding homes and lives of ghosts full-time for more than 12 years. A company like his may restore the balance in your home—or at least restore your sanity.
And then there is the question of what to tell prospective buyers. “It may be a problem that one only thinks about during the Halloween season, but if you’re trying to sell a haunted house, it’s a dilemma every day of the year,” said HGTV. The first course of action is to “talk it over with your real estate agent, especially if you believe a new owner would be in danger.”
Depending on the state the home is located in, you may be legally required to disclose the paranormal activity because the house is considered “stigmatized.”
“In Massachusetts, property owners are under no obligation to disclose ‘psychological defects,’” according to Lindley Law. “In Virginia, emotional defects need only be disclosed if those defects also affect the property. For example, a friendly (or unfriendly) ghost wandering the halls would not need to be disclosed. However, bloody handprints that cannot be washed off a ceiling, or lights that inexplicably turn on every morning at 3:15 a.m., are defects that require disclosure.”
California law requires “emotional defect disclosures, but only if it has occurred in the past five years,” they said. “Neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey considers a prior murder or death in the house a ‘material defect’ as it does not actually affect the flesh and bones of the house itself. Similarly, in North Carolina, though property owners are required to furnish a disclosure statement, there is no duty to disclose whether a property is stigmatized or not. However, when a prospective buyer asks about supernatural occurrences or whether the house is haunted, a seller cannot lie.”
Bottom line: Be sure to ask your real estate agent about laws in your state. Fail to do so, and the sale of your home may just haunt you.