Niche buyers actually want something to go bump in the night.
You might think an old haunted house beset by ghost sightings, strange noises and apparitions would scare away potential buyers, but research has shown that such features can be a plus when putting a home on the market.
Even “The Most Haunted House in Ohio” found a buyer.
Franklin Castle, built in 1865 by Hannes Tiedemann on Cleveland’s west side, was a looming gothic mansion with intimidating size, a spooky wrought-iron gate and stone gargoyles guarding its entrance. Over the years visitors and owners claimed they heard crying babies and odd noises, felt cold spots, and saw ghost-like figures moving about.
Local newspapers published the home’s address. Every curiosity-seeker from teenagers to paranormal societies camped outside, hoping to spot the ghosts. And the place was broken into more than once. The owners couldn’t hide the home’s past, but they didn’t have to. In 2011 it sold for $260,000.
Houses with an alleged ghost can be a plus for some buyers, according to realtor.com’s Haunted Real Estate Survey.
The survey asked average homebuyers what they thought about haunted houses. More than half of home buyers are open to buying a haunted house.
However, most buyers expect a discount. Of the survey’s respondents, 34 percent said they would want up to 30 percent off the asking price to consider purchasing a haunted place, while 19 percent said they would need more — up to half off. Only 12 percent said they would pay full market value or more for a haunted house for sale.
Niche buyers aren’t looking to get a deal on a house because of a bad reputation, they actually hope things will go bump in the night. But, if you’re trying to sell such a place, you have to set realistic expectations. Most specialty buyers aren’t going to pay more than the average price in your neighborhood just for the ghost. Still, for some sellers, waiting for a niche buyer might sound better than slashing the asking price.
If that’s you, there are a few things you can do to find the right buyers. First, look into your home’s past. Generally, paranormal buffs are looking for rich and troubled histories. If you can prove your home fits the bill through newspaper clippings or local history books, you’ll help legitimize your home’s ghost stories.
Next, find someone in the field to help market your house. Start by finding a real estate agent who will help you with your marketing plan; this is a home sale, after all, and you’ll need some professional help. Contacting local paranormal research groups may also help you find niche buyers. Many paranormal researchers are happy to investigate your home and possibly add more appeal to your haunting.
Some paranormal groups and researchers keep databases of haunted real estate for sale. For example, Bonnie Vent, owner of San Diego Paranormal Research and Genesis Creations Entertainment, posts haunted house listings on her website.
Finally, be ready to tell stories — lots of stories. During walk-throughs, potential buyers are going to have a lot of questions about the haunting, and any personal experiences you or your family members can share will help seal the deal. Don’t be afraid to point out spots that feel hot or cold, or rooms that make you feel uneasy — you are trying to sell a ghost along with your house, after all.