Buyer Beware: Is That House For Sale Haunted?

A trope as old as horror movies: a family moves into a beautiful house that they bought for well under market value. They’ve put all their savings into the move, and they’re looking for a fresh start. When they meet the neighbors and other townsfolk, they quickly learn that there’s a history to the home that they weren’t aware of.  

              When they start to experience the abnormal, it’s easy to brush off as new home jitters. The children who hear noises in the closet, and a husband who starts sleepwalking, are chalked up to stress and anxiety from the move. It’s only when the experiences escalate beyond control that the family finally realizes the extent of the haunting.

              While sharing a home with the supernatural can be a selling point for some buyers, it’s quite the opposite for others. In fact, a 2017 survey by Realtor.com found that 33% of people were open to living in a haunted house, 25% would consider it, but 42% said it was a deal-breaker. So how do you make sure you’re fully informed about a home’s history? Knowing the right questions to ask is the first step:

 

 

Ask to see the seller disclosure form

              In the famous 1991 case Stambovsky v. Ackley, the new homeowner, Jeffrey Stambovsky, won a lawsuit against the previous owner for not disclosing the history of hauntings.

              In this case, the previous owner had published stories about the family’s experiences in Reader’s Digest and their local newspaper. In her writings, she explained several interactions with ghostly beings in the home, including finding that her children had been given rings, which would later disappear, bed shaking, and conversations with the floating specters.

              The court took this evidence and ruled the “defendant is estopped to deny [the ghost’s] existence and, as a matter of law, the house is haunted.” Setting a new standard, this case created a basis for future seller disclosers. In this instance, they found that the history of the home, and the seller’s experiences in the home, would have influenced the marketability, and therefore, omitting these facts was unfair to the buyer.

              Fast forward to 2019, there is not a specific section on seller disclosure forms for hauntings or ghostly sightings, but thanks to Stambovsky v. Ackley, sellers in many states are obligated by law to disclose things that affect a house’s marketability.

 

 

Ask Google about the history of the home

              In 1991 when Mr. Stambovsky bought his haunted house, search engines didn’t exist. Today,  we’re lucky enough to have things like Google which would have found the previous home owner’s stories in mere seconds. Search keywords like the address or town name, and words like “haunted” or “ghosts”, as well as “murder” or “news report” should help you start your dive into the history of the home.

 

 

Ask the neighbors and your agent  

              This is where nosey neighbors come in handy. When you find a place you’re serious about, contact the neighbors to see what they know about the home’s history. The same goes for your real estate agent; he or she can reach out to the listing agent to see if there is anything haunting you should know about prior to buying. While many states don’t require sellers to disclose paranormal activity or deaths in the home, if asked, all real estate agents must, by law, answer truthfully.

Posted on November 4, 2019 at 11:41 am
Fort Collins | Category: Buyers & Sellers | Tagged , , , , , , ,

You’ve Moved into Your New Home. Now What?

Congratulations on your new home! You made it through the arduous process that is buying a new home. Now it’s time to take on the task of moving in.

You did your research about the neighborhood and you feel like you know the home like the back of your hand. However, there are some things to do as you move in to protect your newest investment, and yourself, from the unknown variables in and around your home.

 

Change the locks garage door codes

Previous owners might have changed the locks, but they may not know who all has a key or a code to open your garage, especially neighbors who they trusted to watch their place while they were away. Changing the codes and locks on all the doors ensures that you have complete control over entry to your home

 

Check or Install Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If the home already has fire and carbon monoxide devices, make sure they are in working order by testing each one with the tester button. Keep a note of when to replace them as well.

If they don’t have them, install a device in each sleeping room, as well as common areas like the living room or kitchen. Hallways are a great place to cover multiple rooms with one detector as well.

 

Install a security system

Enjoy total peace of mind with a new security system. Meet with a consultant on the best ways to protect your home for a system that works best for you and your lifestyle.

There are also app-connected systems that you can set up yourself that notify you of movement on the cameras or doors and windows opening.

 

Meet the neighbors

Build a sense of community and get to know the lay of the land by knocking on neighbors’ doors to get to know them. Bring a small gift as a “thank you” for dealing with the moving trucks. This is a great initial step for figuring out who you can trust to watch things while you’re away should you need a helping hand in the near future.

 

These are just a few ideas on what you should do as soon as you move in. What are some things you do, or suggest to friends and clients on move-in day?

Posted on September 17, 2019 at 1:28 pm
Fort Collins | Category: Blog, Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

When it comes time to downsize

CondoSunsetWhen it comes time to decide if you want to downsize, there are many thoughts and emotions that go speeding through your mind.  Maybe you have already decided this is your home for the rest of your life.  Your home was the perfect place to meet your needs when you were in an earlier cycle of life, and will be the ideal home for all the events you see happening in your next.  If you are inclined to feel that the home you currently reside in may have out-lived its purpose, you may be struggling with some of the same thoughts and emotions my husband and I had when it came to the emotional and financially sensitive decision to downsize.

In our situation, we loved our home.  It provided everything we needed to raise our three children, plus nurture all the creative projects that identified who we are as a family as well as individuals.  Our children were just like anyone else’s; loved, individually different, all requiring unique activities and space to help them grow, using their special talents.  We loved our neighborhood and took an active part in making it an extension of our home.  Considering that it had been our home for decades, deciding to leave was emotionally difficult.

We spent several years before we knew we would leave our home, looking at all the smaller options.  We wondered, should we look for another single-family dwelling or check out other options like co-ops of condominiums?  My husband had spent the past twenty-five years mowing our lawn and was quite willing to remove this task from his plate. I, on the other hand, still loved to garden.  Was there a living environment that could satisfy both these expectations?  We looked at every condominium and every co-op in the Seattle area for five years, but nothing really fulfilled everything we needed.  We had a list of features including a garden spot, closets and efficient use of space, etc. I’m an Old World Charm lady, but guess what?  Back in the 20’s ladies only owned three dresses.  Let’s just say, I own a few more outfits than most pre-war closets were meant to hold.  So the search went on.

When our children finally reached their 20’s and my husband wanted to retire, we knew it was time to make our move.  Like I said, everyone loves their children, but not all the party time we now came to expect in our rec room every weekend.  We were ready to have a space of our own, and it was time for our kids to begin their next cycle in-life.  We also had too much of our finances tied up in a 3,000 square foot house, when in reality we needed less and could save more.  We had to leave the home we had dedicated to making our unique expression of who we were, and leave very soon.

If any of this sounds familiar, your task will be a little easier than it seems! Here is some practical advice for making your move:

Define your needs:  Narrow down your ideal needs. Start by deciding if you want a single-family versus multi-family dwelling. Consider your price range, and then space needs.

Downsize: We downsized a bit more than we should have, but we sure got rid of lots of items we collected over the past 25 years.  Some of them were special to me.  I’d purchased a beautiful wood serving tray at a yard sale with one of my dearest friends.  I had to borrow money from her to buy it.  I solved the problem by giving it to her when we moved, and I still see it when I visit her home.  My children took much of the furniture they had a special connection to, and my nephew, who spent nearly every Christmas sitting in his favorite red chair, can now enjoy it in his own home.

Let go: Leaving the neighborhood and all our lifelong friends was the most difficult process, I think, of all the decisions we had to make.  We still see them, but as I’m writing this my eyes are tearing up.  It’s hard to re-visit my old neighborhood and see my old home cared for in a different way than I had lovingly done for twenty-five years.  But it does give us plenty of things to talk about with old friends when we get together.

What did we end up doing?  We moved into a vintage 1930’s co-op in a walkable part of town.  I have just the right amount of gardening space that I share with other owners.  We have made wonderful friends with some of our neighbors and get together frequently for happy hour and spur-of-the-moment gatherings.  It’s a different lifestyle than we had before but, believe me, there are plus sides. In no way will any of our three wonderful, adored, adult children ever be able to move back home, since we now live in an 850-square-foot co-op with every space used on a daily basis.  There were times when I wouldn’t go in one of my rooms in our old home for several weeks.  This is not a problem now.  Yes, maybe it’s too small, but we can always move into a larger place if and when we feel it’s time.

What are your questions about downsizing your home? What features do you require to live in a smaller, more efficient dwelling?

Pat Eskenazi is a Windermere veteran, working in marketing for the past 12 years. She has lived in Seattle since 1952.  Her favorite place to walk is along Golden Gardens, and she especially loves to climb the stairs up to the Sunset Hill neighborhood where she lived with her 3 children and husband for 25 years.

Posted on March 18, 2019 at 1:45 pm
Fort Collins | Category: Blog, Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,