A Few States Will Protect You from Buying a Haunted House—Does Yours?

In most states, sellers don't have to disclose if they believe there's a friendly (or not-so-friendly) ghost in the attic.

When you're buying a home, there are some items—called real estate disclosures—that the home sellers are required to tell you. These disclosures vary by state (though federal law requires people in all states to disclose the known presence of lead paint) and include issues such as mold, termite damage, roof leaks, and the like.

These rules are intended to protect potential home buyers from nasty surprises after they move into their new homes. But according to an analysis by Zillow, the presence of ghosts generally isn't included in any disclosure laws. (Even if an inn specter finds one in the basement.)

According to the analysis, home sellers in most states don't have to tell potential home buyers if they might be buying a haunted house. In fact, only four states have mentioned paranormal activity in their real estate disclosure laws. And only two of those were written to protect the buyers. Read on to learn which states have disclosure laws relating to paranormal activity or even whether there was a death in the home.

States With Paranormal Disclosure Laws

You've likely seen horror movies that start with an unsuspecting family moving into a haunted house. Offscreen, too, some actual houses are rumored to be haunted. While some people certainly are interested in haunted houses for sale, plenty might reconsider the purchase if this information was handy. These four states have laws on the books regarding this matter.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, sellers must disclose known info about potential hauntings or paranormal activity only if asked.

New York

In New York, courts will rescind a sale if the seller takes unfair advantage of a buyer's ignorance of a home's reputation for paranormal activity or if the seller creates and perpetuates said reputation.


In Massachusetts, the law explicitly states that sellers do not have to disclose "an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon."


In Minnesota, the law explicitly states that sellers do not have to disclose perceived paranormal activity.

The Other 46 States

In all other 46 states, it's a free-for-all. There's no rule stating sellers must tell a potential buyer about the presence of a ghost or strange goings-on. To an extent, that's not surprising—to legislate the disclosure of paranormal activity is to openly acknowledge its existence.

States Where Sellers Must Disclose a Death in the Home

As any good horror movie buff knows, most dastardly spirits are created when someone is murdered or otherwise dies in a space. Knowing if the property is the sight of a murder or suicide has little to do with paranormal activity, but a few states specifically require sellers to share if a death recently occurred on their property. (A few more say the sellers must respond truthfully if asked.) Here are the states with laws regarding death on the property.


In Alaska, the seller must disclose if a murder or suicide occurred within a year of the date the house was first shown to the buyer.


In California, the seller must disclose a death on the property if it happened less than three years prior to the sale of the home.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, the seller must disclose if a suicide, homicide, or felony occurred in the house within the last 12 months.

The Other 47 States

In the rest of the United States, there are no such laws mandating the disclosure of death in the home. On the other hand, some states (Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania) have legislation explicitly stating that sellers do not have to disclose a death on the property.

How to Avoid Buying a Haunted House

Some people—the type collecting haunted house ideas or looking into haunted house rentals—would love the opportunity to purchase a purportedly haunted house. For others, though, knowing a house is rumored to be haunted or that a property was recently the site of death could be enough to make them rescind their offer and look elsewhere.

Some home sellers may take it upon themselves to say if a property is haunted, but if you're concerned about possible paranormal activity, ask the seller and research your state's disclosure laws before buying. The site DiedInHouse.com charges a fee to do this dirty work for you, sorting through death certificates and police reports to learn the truth if sellers won't tell you.

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