During Halloween, stories of hauntings and eerie happenings are quite common, as Americans relish in embellishing the supernatural. But you know what they find even more terrifying than ghosts and ghouls? Major home repair issues.
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Shockingly, most people would rather live in a haunted house than deal with a rocky foundation or mold infestation in their home, according to a new study by Real Estate Witch.
In fact, 93% of those surveyed said these home repairs are scarier than their house being haunted when purchasing a new home. Odd behavior from the ghost of Aunt Ida? Totally okay. But lead paint on the walls and a crumbling foundation? No, thank you!
Although this sentiment may sound strange, it’s for good reason that major home issues terrify Americans — extensive repairs can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars to fix. And while traditional homeowners may be able to put off repairs, as a residential real estate investor, you may not have that option.
Cost of repairs
You may be able to find easy fixes for issues in your investment properties, but it’s more likely the job will be more extensive. Let’s take foundation issues as an example. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a foundation repair is around $4,500 in the U.S. But you can get into the tens of thousands if you have major issues and the job requires hydraulic piers to fix it.
Not only will an owner need to fix the foundation itself, but weak points in the foundation, settlement, and cracking can cause other issues in your property. Major structural problems can cause cracks in the drywall of interior walls, lead to uneven floors, or cause porches to collapse.
Mold can be similarly expensive and lead to issues in other areas of the home. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost for mold remediation is $2,200 and depends on the square footage needing treatment. If corrosion is particularly bad, structural materials may need to be replaced. At the very least, you’ll need to replace some flooring or drywall damaged by the mold.
And mold is especially spine-chilling, as it doesn’t just affect the physical structure of your property — it poses a very large health risk to those living in it. Once found, the issue only grows with time. And considering this gives tenants a reason to sue for damages if it does affect their health, you’ll want to get it professionally dealt with right away.
Even if you pay the big bucks to remove the mold and protect your tenant’s health, you’ll always need to note it in your disclosure statement when you go to sell — which is likely to scare away future buyers or cause them to lower their offer. If the thought of these repairs sends a chill down your spine, you may be better off finding other ways to invest in real estate besides buying properties.
Many would never buy a haunted house
It’s certainly beginning to make sense why major repair issues make haunted houses seem like a walk in the park, but home buyers, investors, and tenants aren’t so keen on haunted houses, either. Forty percent of those surveyed said they would never purchase a haunted house, no matter the circumstances.
However, 33% said they would consider buying the house but with certain concessions to make up for the trouble — such as if the house was sold for a much lower price (75%) or if they believed the ghosts were friendly (50%). If the house was in a safer neighborhood, 50% would also be willing to overlook the paranormal activity, and 40% could do so if the property had more land or a larger yard.
Many have first-hand experience living in a haunted house
A surprising 24% of people report having lived in a haunted house, but only 31% were aware it was haunted before moving in. Half of those reported actually seeing a ghost.
If they moved into a home that was haunted, one in four people said they would move immediately, but one in three would do their best to cleanse the home of its paranormal activity — by burning sage and other tactics. Forty-one percent of respondents said levitating objects and feelings of being touched would definitely cause them to move.
Disclosure of hauntings to renters or buyer
There’s no federal law encompassing all states on disclosing a house haunting when it comes to selling or renting a home. In fact, only nine states have a specific law mandating that sellers must disclose any knowledge surrounding paranormal activity, and most are vague about what exactly that means. Five other states say a seller must disclose supernatural behavior only if the seller is directly asked.
Of those surveyed, Real Estate Witch found that 63% of people think it should be required that owners disclose if their house is haunted. If not required by law, however, only one in four people said they would disclose that their home is haunted. If required, nearly half (45%) of respondents said they’d only disclose the haunting — and 10% wouldn’t disclose it either way!
One reason homeowners may not want to disclose a haunting is that it may give the buyer leverage to negotiate terms or force the seller to make more concessions, which can cost the seller time and money.
Informing renters about paranormal activity
As a landlord, you may wonder whether you should — or are legally required to — disclose paranormal activity in your rental property to your tenants. The answer depends on where you live and the nature of the activity.
For example, in some states, you may have to tell tenants about a gory murder that happened in the property, but in others, you may not. And some states put a time specification — meaning you only need to disclose the horrific situation if it occurred in the last three years. Other states say you must only disclose it if the tenants ask specifically about it.
Generally, landlords are not required to tell tenants if the house they are looking to rent is haunted — however, doing so may prevent you from nightmares later on. Although a tenant may not be able to break a lease in your state due to paranormal activity, they may be able to argue that strange sounds disrupt the “quiet enjoyment” of their residence. This is similar to loud neighbors or barking dogs and could be used as a reason to break a lease without adverse effects.
Both ghosts and home repairs can be hair-raising
Whether it’s ghosts or home repairs, as a landlord, neither is desirable. Avoid surprises by knowing what you’re getting into, asking questions, and getting an inspection when you purchase a new investment property. And if you already own a property you think may be haunted, be prepared with a plan of how to handle it with your tenants.