In Minnesota, Sellers of residential homes have to disclose known material facts that could “adversely and significantly” affect the Buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property. This usually means things like hail damage or flooding and can be disclosed via a third-party inspection. But what if you think Casper the not-so-friendly ghost might affect Buyer’s enjoyment of the home?
Believe it or not, the highest state court in New York addressed a dispute over a haunted house in what is now known as the “Ghostbusters ruling.” In Stambovsky v. Ackley, out-of-town Buyers put down a considerable deposit for a new home. Only afterwards did Buyers learn of their new purchase’s haunted reputation. Buyers then sued to cancel the
purchase agreement and get the deposit back.
The Seller had previously promoted the apparitions that supposedly occupied the property in several local newspaper stories and in Readers’ Digest. Evidently the ghosts liked to shake her daughter’s bed to wake her up in the morning. As this publicity was Seller’s own doing, the court determined that “as a matter of law, the house is haunted.” In the “spirit of equity” the court ordered the purchase agreement cancelled and the deposit returned to Buyer.
You can read the case and all its cheesy ghost puns here.
So if you think your house in Minnesota is haunted, do you have to disclose that fact to your Buyers? Actually, no! About 10 years after the “Ghostbusters” ruling, the Minnesota legislature passed a law that Seller is not required to disclose “perceived paranormal activity” in a residential property. No need to evict those ghosts before moving day!
The haunted house in question – 1 LaVeta Place, Nyack NY (CREDIT: Howard Hanna Rand Realty)