Halloween, based loosely on the Christian All Souls Day (also called All Saints Day), celebrates the souls of our departed brethren. Though experienced differently in different cultures, the idea is essentially the same. But the Halloween we know today has been considerably secularized, and has transformed into a popular holiday for kids who know it’s time for Trick or Treating.
It is in fact a day that even adults look forward to, happily decorating their front yards with orange lights strung on porches and bed sheet ghosts hung on trees. But this story isn’t about Halloween that comes only once a year. That day is in some respects just an excuse for the more thoughtful among us to dwell on those supernatural things most of us don’t think about the rest of the year.
Every October, we allow ourselves and our kids to think of those scary manifestations of the dead…GHOSTS! Ghosts are usually associated with houses, but could be in factories, government buildings, restaurants, theatres, hotels, or other commercial establishments. In most cases they “appear” to be the former living occupants, owners, employees, or customers. When ghosts are perceived by the living, and a building gains a certain reputation as home to those spirits, we call it haunted. . .
Haunted Houses have been the source of many a scary story, and the practice of real estate has not been immune to them. Ask any real estate broker who has been in the business long enough if he/she has ever had a strange experience in one of the homes they were showing or selling. Whether a believer or not, many would admit that they did.
So how do haunted houses come into being? Here are some theories…
The most popular explanation is that ghosts are the departed souls of people who left this life rather abruptly, and still don’t understand that they are “dead”. Others believe that ghosts are those who have left some important thing undone in their life, or have suffered some great injustice, and are sticking around to either do that chore or correct that injustice.
My favorite theory revolves around energy dynamics. If you remember high school physics, you learned about the conservation of energy, i.e., energy cannot be destroyed, only converted to some other form. People are bundles of energy, and the Great Question has always been what happens to human energy when a person dies?
If that energy truly does not die with the human form, and is converted to something else, what is that something other than just cellular decay? Regardless of personal religious beliefs which purport to explain what happens, the fact is those who believe in ghosts think that in some cases, all or part of that energy remains right here on earth, albeit in a different form.
The energy present in people’s homes is a result of all the energetic things within it: people, plants, pets, etc. Practitioners of feng shui believe in the positive and negative flow of such energies, and their substantial effect on the occupants within. Healers believe that ailing people, pets, and places can actually be “healed” by the conscious direction of positive energy.
More Haunted Colorado Info
So to get back to the issue of haunted real estate… we might hypothesize that the people who live in homes eventually imprint the structure with their energies (if they have lived there long enough). Have you ever walked into someone’s house and immediately felt really good about the people and objects within it?
Believers would say the occupants’ positive energies are part of the house. On the other hand, have you ever been in a place where you just felt bad for some unexplainable reason, regardless of what was going on or what conversations were taking place?
These energies can be very positive or very negative. It depends on who lives (or lived) in the house, and what they did. For example, husbands and wives who might have argued incessantly while in their home could have imparted these “bad vibes” to the house itself.
Consider a home where there was a murder, a suicide,or some other kind of violent energetic episode, and you may be considering a haunted house!
Ask the broker who is selling a home in a nasty divorce situation… sometimes one can just sense the acrimony, even though it may now be vacant. There is a spectrum of energy left in homes, ranging from just a little bit to downright humongous! Consider a home where there was a murder, a suicide, or some other kind of violent energetic episode, and you may be considering a haunted house!
Such hauntings are not always the result of violence or ill will. They can also stem from the friendly soul who perhaps needs to send a message to the living, right a wrong, or just finally realize that he or she has passed on (they don’t always know it).
How do you as a buyer of real estate know whether a house is afflicted with negative energy? Your own perceptions are the first to be acknowledged; if you just don’t feel good there, perhaps it is best to move on. But if you are persistent, and you think the home is just “too good of a deal”, some remedial action is possible. Hiring a feng shui consultant or a house healer may be in order. In more extreme cases, a priest or minister can be asked to bless the house, or a psychic can be called in for a session. If you’re more inclined to the high tech approach, bring in your local ghosthunters with all the latest equipment. We won’t talk about exorcisms, the most extreme solution.
What if a broker thinks that a home for sale is haunted? Does she have a duty to tell the buyer? Colorado real estate law does speak to this issue: under Section 38-35.5-101 of the CRS Statutes:
Nondisclosure of Information Psychologically
Impacting Real Property
we note in Paragraph 2…
No cause of action shall arise against a real estate broker …
for failing to disclose such circumstance occurring on the property which might psychologically impact or stigmatize such property.
In other words, Colorado law makers didn’t want brokers to be able to inadvertently stigmatize a property by saying it was the scene of emotionally violent acts like murder or suicide, let alone haunted (see Related Story for a different state’s interpretation).
On the other hand, you as a buyer would certainly want to know this before you inherit some things in the house you may not want. What if a property has a well known reputation of possibly being haunted, like Briarhurst Manor in Manitou Springs? When it was recently on the market, the listing broker made no bones about disclosing the “haunting.” But since it was purchased there has been no further news. If it were to come up for sale again, would I as a broker disclose that possibility to an uninformed buyer (Better to Disclose)? Probably. It would be hard to stigmatize a property that already has such a well-established reputation.
But what if that property in Colorado* did not have such a reputation, and you were shown it as a buyer? What if you sensed something wrong? Even if you were convinced it was haunted, and the broker showing it agreed, the next time he showed it to a different buyer he would not be required to disclose his opinion.
Haunted Houses are part of the real estate market and part of our modern culture, regardless of what you may or may not believe. Whether you’re buying or selling, it dosen’t have to be Halloween to sleep well in a haunted house!
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*Each state has its own law regarding disclosure of paranormal properties. Consult your local broker or department of real estate for details.
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