by Dell Claiborne
Don’t laugh, but I think my house may be haunted and I am trying to sell it. Do I have to tell potential buyers?
I really should have saved this question for my Halloween column, but I loved the question too much to wait. Houses that are thought to be “haunted” fall into a category known as stigmatized properties. Stigmatized properties are properties where some sort of event has occurred that really doesn’t harm the physical property, but may affect the value to some people. It is likely a situation where the monetary value of the property isn’t affected, but someone’s psychological view of the property’s value is affected. Homes that fall into this category are homes where possibly murders or suicides may have occurred. Many times rumors more so than fact will cause a home to be stigmatized. Virginia law does not require the disclosure of stigmas like murder, suicide and haunting to potential buyers. In fact, sellers are protected against their Realtor disclosing this type of information without their consent. However, Realtors are required to disclose actual physical defects that are present. So, you’re not obligated to tell potential buyers that you think your house is haunted. Just don’t try to blame the drafty rooms on Casper. It’s probably a door that needs a little better weather stripping.