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Your house is haunted. What's a home seller to do?

Oct 31, 2014

Credit Morguefile

It's that time of year when we think about things going bump in the night.

So what if you believe a real ghost has taken up residence in your house and you want to move away? Do you need to tell potential buyers about your uninvited guest?

Michigan law is hazy when it comes to the seller's duty to disclose non-physical or so-called psychological defects of property, according to Gregg Nathanson, a Michigan real estate lawyer.  Haunted houses would fall into that category of property.

Nathanson said state law says real estate brokers do not have a duty to disclose psychological property defects. But the statute is silent whether sellers have the duty to disclose.

"The way you would normally disclose it is you would fill out something called a Seller's Disclosure Statement which is required under Michigan law," Nathanson said. "And then it would be up to you to fill it out to the best of your knowledge. So it would be a question of whether you believe it's  haunted or not."

But since Michigan courts have not ruled on a seller's duty to disclose psychological defects, Nathanson said it's not clear if you have to reveal that pesky ghost.

If you are a buyer with a special worry about ghosts, your best bet is to ask directly if the house is haunted. Nathanson said in the face of a direct question, both sellers and brokers have to answer truthfully or decline to answer.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom