How being haunted affects a house's value

If a deal seems too sweet, there could be a ghostly explanation. Jimmy Lee Shreeve reports

So, you've just moved into your new home. Beautiful house, fantastic location, and you got it for a good price. The previous owners seemed very keen for a quick sale. Wondering why? Well, could it be that they thought it was haunted? Stranger things have happened. Beautiful properties have become houses of horror thanks to unexplained happenings. Some families decide to move out. Others learn to live with their ghosts, or resort to exorcism.

Or, in the case of the actor Nicolas Cage, they simply don't sleep in the house. In 2007, he shelled out $3.5m for LaLaurie Mansion, reputedly the most haunted house in New Orleans. "At any given moment," said Cage, "I have five or six ghosts surrounding the house, all looking up at this haunted temple, and I'm in there. We'll [his family] come over and have dinner there but nobody sleeps there." The property is now up for sale.

Being saddled with an unwelcome spectral guest is more common than you might think. According to a 2005 study by the Portman Building Society (now merged with Nationwide), one in three people surveyed claimed to have lived in a house that was haunted, or rumoured to be. The question is, if you've got a resident spook, do you come clean about it to prospective buyers? And if you don't, could you be prosecuted under the Property Misdescriptions Act?

"The Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 does not refer to haunted houses," says the London-based lawyer Conor Walsh. "But it does create a general duty to avoid making false or misleading statements." Theoretically, this should stop a seller from claiming that a house is not haunted – or, indeed, that it is haunted – when he or she believes otherwise.

In the US, it's a different story. There was a case in 1991 where a seller was ruled liable to the buyer for failing to mention that the property she was selling was haunted, which could have affected the value. "The court held that a buyer would be highly unlikely to discover the existence of such activity himself prior to purchase," says Mark Pawlowski, professor of property law at Greenwich University in London. "And therefore the onus was firmly on the seller to make disclosure."

In one extreme case of apparent supernatural activity, the residents fled in terror – and left the bank to repossess the £3.6m property when they couldn't sell it. Businessman Anwar Rashid moved into Clifton Hall in Nottinghamshire in early 2007. The 52-room mansion, which dates back to the Norman Conquest, was the dream home for Anwar and his wife, and their four young children – until the resident ghosts came out. "I fell for its beauty, but behind the façade, it's haunted," says Anwar. "The ghosts didn't want us there, and we couldn't fight them because we couldn't see them."

The spooky happenings started the day they moved in. And over time, they experienced everything from tapping on the wall and unexplained voices, to screaming in the passageways. Investigators of the paranormal were called in, but failed to solve the problem.

In the end, the Rashids couldn't take any more. And that was that: £3.6m down the drain. The property went on the market again in October 2008 (at £2.75m, nearly £1m less than Anwar paid for it), and is now a conference centre rather than a private residence.

If you own a country estate, a resident ghost could well prove a boon. "An interesting and spooky history – particularly involving any famous or infamous characters – can add intrigue and appeal for more eccentric buyers," says Charles Wasdell, head of research at Propertyfinder.com.

Such a reputation certainly brings in the visitors to Blickling Hall in Norfolk, which is supposed to be the most haunted of all properties owned by the National Trust. Ghosts aren't always welcome, however, on NT properties. "The trust does exorcise some properties. It doesn't shout about it, though," says Siân Evans, author of Ghosts: Mysterious Tales from the National Trust.

According to Wasdell, exorcism is worth exploring if you're plagued by an unruly ghoul. "Every Anglican diocese in the UK has a specialist team of exorcists ready to vanquish evil spirits," he says. "So, if you're worried that a ghost is going to damage your sale chances, you can always call them in."

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £24,000

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic individual is r...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?