BAM Key Details: 

  • Reports from Real Estate Witch and Zillow reveal some interesting statistics on haunted homes and the people who buy them—knowingly or otherwise—as well as why someone would buy a haunted house, what’s scarier than rooming with ghosts, and the lengths sellers will go to to unload a haunted property and GTFO. 

According to a new report from Real Estate Witch, more than a quarter of Americans (29%) believe they’ve lived in a haunted house—a 5% increase from a year ago. And the interesting stats don’t stop there. 

Zillow researchers have also dug into this topic with a recent survey that reveals over a third (35%) of prospective buyers in the U.S. would 100% buy a haunted property if it saved them some serious coin. Four in 10 would do it if the home had the features they were looking for. 

Almost 30% say they would actually be more likely to buy a home if they knew it was haunted. Counterpoint? Nearly half (48%), according to Real Estate Witch, would not buy a haunted house under any circumstances. 

If you haven’t watched last week’s episode of The Walk Thruspecifically the part about spooky showings—this would be an excellent time to check that out. 

Read on for some interesting stats to share (in a well-lit room with efficient heating).

Have you ever lived in a haunted house?

Of those 29% who believe they’ve lived in a haunted house, 73% didn’t know about its haunted state until after moving in. Among those who did know about its paranormal reputation prior to taking residence, 40% were influenced by a lower price tag. 

That said, despite those initial savings, 36% of those homeowners regret their purchase and 55% would not buy another home known to be haunted. 

Millennials are the generation most likely to believe in the paranormal and are likewise the most likely to say they’ve lived in a haunted house, with 35% of millennial respondents claiming as much, compared to just 15% of baby boomers

Because most states don’t require sellers to make potential buyers aware of paranormal activity in the home they’re selling, more than one in 10 (12%) successful buyers believe their home is “definitely haunted,” while another 17% say their home “may be harboring spirits.” 

Almost three-quarters of those who’ve purchased haunted homes (73%) discovered it was haunted only after they moved in. Respondents indicated how they came to that conclusion: 

  • Strange noises (53%)
  • Feelings of being touched or watched (47%)
  • Strange shadows around the home (41%)
  • Eerie or haunted feelings in certain rooms (41%)

One in three of these homeowners (36%) claim they’ve actually seen a ghost in their home, while another third consulted an outside authority, such as a medium (17%) or the home’s previous owner (17%), for confirmation that their home is haunted. 

“That wasn’t in the listing description”

Only four states have laws specific to haunted homes: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. And only two of those—New York and New Jersey—require sellers to disclose to potential buyers whether their home is haunted.

That said, nearly seven out of 10 Americans (68%) believe the government should require sellers to warn potential buyers if their home is occupied by ghosts. But only 31% of those selling a haunted house said they would share that detail willingly, mainly because— 

  • 71% believe it would hurt their chances of selling the home
  • 69% believe it would reduce the amount of money they could get for it
  • 64% believe it would take longer to sell

This is especially true in a market where fewer buyers are out there looking for homes—and existing buyers are more particular about the details (especially spooky ones). 

Sellers desperate to get rid of a haunted home may be more likely to keep any paranormal shenanigans on the down low. But that can backfire in a big way if the new owners discover the haunted nature of their new home and decide to sue the previous owner. 

According to Real Estate Witch, nearly half of Americans (48%) would consider suing a seller who failed to disclose evidence their home was haunted. 

1/10 Would not recommend!

Feeling safe in their home is important to 95% of Americans, which, for most people, would rule out a home known to be haunted. 

  • 57% of those who’ve lived in a haunted house say they were scared
  • 45% say they dreaded going home 
  • 43% felt more stressed or anxious because of their haunted home
  • 34% say tourists have come to gawk at their home
  • 36% of those who’ve bought a haunted home regret doing so
  • 55% would not buy another home they knew to be haunted

Homeowners who’ve lived in a haunted house are understandably motivated to ensure they don’t buy another one, and they’re more than twice as likely as other Americans (55% vs 23%) to research whether a home they’re considering has a history of paranormal activity. 

What’s scarier than living in a haunted house?

As scary as it might sound to live in a haunted house, only 7% of Americans see paranormal activity as the scariest possible downside of buying a home, while 93% express more fear over home repair issues like the following than over the prospect of disembodied roommates: 

  • Mold (60%)
  • Termites (57%)
  • Leaky roof (54%)

According to respondents, haunted houses are also preferable to— 

  • Homes near a nuclear waste facility (48%)
  • Homes built on top of a burial ground (46%)
  • Former meth labs (42%)
  • Homes with a history of cult activity (39%)
  • Homes located next to a nightclub (39%)
  • Homes where a serious crime was committed (37%)

Major dealbreakers aside, for the most part, respondents say the scariest aspects of homeownership are all money-related: 

  • Unexpected costs (50%)
  • High interest rates (46%)
  • Inability to pay the mortgage (42%)

What would convince you to buy a haunted house?

While nearly half of Americans would walk away from a home known to be haunted, these properties are still considered desirable among many who are motivated to buy but deterred by today’s high home prices and near-8% mortgage rates

A lower price swayed 40% of those who have knowingly purchased a haunted house in 2023. That figure is down from 69% in 2022, but four out of ten still amounts to a substantial number of Americans willing overlook ghostly roommates in exchange for— 

  • More square footage (38%)
  • A larger lot size (38%)
  • A better school district (34%)

Of those three, a better school district is the only one that has made home buyers more likely to buy a haunted house this year (34%) compared to last year (28%) because savvy homebuyers know homes in good school districts retain their resale value even when a market crash impacts the value of homes in surrounding districts. 

So, if those homeowners finally get fed up with their unwanted roommates, they’ll have an easier time selling their home to someone else. 

Over two-thirds of prospective homebuyers (67%) say they could be persuaded to buy a haunted home if it had the right features, was in a desirable location, was more affordable, or for another reason. 

Buyers in today’s market are willing to overlook the possibility of paranormal activity in their future home if it ticks the right boxes.

According to Zillow’s survey, 40% would consider buying a haunted house if it had a big backyard, a pool, or a two-car garage. Almost a third (32%) would be convinced to buy if the home were in their preferred location. 

About half would buy a haunted home if it was in a desirable neighborhood (48%) or if it was the only home available that fit their budget (50%). 

Only 13% say knowing a house was haunted would have zero impact on their decision to buy it. 

Buyers are having a tougher time finding homes that have what they’re looking for. And while Zillow’s latest monthly market report shows an uptick in new listings, inventory remains more than 10% lower compared to one year ago and more than 40% below 2019 levels.

Hence the reason more than a third of prospective homebuyers (35%) say they could be persuaded to buy a haunted home if it came with a lower price tag compared to comparable listings. 

With home values still near record highs and mortgage rates around 8%, buyers now need a six-figure income to comfortably afford a typical home in this country. And that’s assuming a 10% down payment. 

The combination of high prices, limited inventory and rising interest rates is creating a witches’ brew of trouble for would-be homeowners. Despite these chilling conditions, life events like job changes, coupling up and having children still drive households to buy. These shoppers have to square their budgets with important home characteristics like bedrooms, bathrooms and floor plans. When balancing so many priorities in an inventory-starved market, avoiding ghosts and ghouls doesn’t always make the cut.

Manny Garcia

Senior Population Scientist at Zillow

So, while a majority of Americans admit haunted houses make them uneasy, over half (52%) say they’re open to the idea—given the right conditions. Seven out of 10 (71%) would consider buying one if it saved them a significant amount of money.

That said, the majority (62%) would insist on a discount, offering below market value for a haunted house, with 31% slashing at least $50,000 off the asking price. 

It’s worth repeating that 48% of respondents say nothing could ever convince them to buy a haunted house. And to that, this writer says, “Same.” A haunting is not something you can just DIY away. I’m out.

Read the full reports on Real Estate Witch and Zillow for more information.

Takeaways for real estate agents

Can you imagine getting a phone call from a client you helped with a home purchase telling you they have to sell that home as quickly as possible because they found out, after closing, that it was haunted?

Fortunately, haunted houses are by no means the norm, nor do they represent a high percentage of existing homes. 

That said, a bit of research prior to making an offer (or at latest prior to closing) can’t hurt. Encourage your buyers to get curious about anything that raises those little hairs on the back of the neck. Because home should be a place where your client feels safe and at peace.

You can’t put a price on that.