Weird Laws

It doesn't matter if you stare into a crystal ball for a couple hours every day, or if you talk shop with disembodied spirits over your morning coffee on a regular basis. In Massachusetts, if you are selling a haunted house, the law says you're allowed to keep all that paranormal activity a secret.

According to Massachusetts law, “the fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction.”

What Does Psychologically Impacted Mean?

As with everything in the law, it is important that you understand the definition of terms before trying to navigate a piece of legislation. In this case, the very peculiar phrase, "psychologically impacted," is being applied to a piece of real estate. While you might have a few friends or relatives whom you would describe as "psychologically impacted" -- and maybe you consider yourself to be -- it is odd to describe a house as being so. What does it mean?

Generally, if a house is deemed to be psychologically impacted, it means that there is something about its history that could creep you out. Let's say a murder happened in the house, a suicide took place several years ago, or the property was rented by a gang of drug addicts. For some home buyers, these kind of facts could dissuade them from purchasing a property.

In addition to the "real world stuff" described above, psychologically impacted also refers to the suspicion of paranormal or parapsychological activity -- like ghosts, disembodied spirits, mysterious noises, bleeding walls, talking pictures, Harry Potter-like events and so forth. It is strange that parapsychological stuff like this would be included in a state law, considering that there is a lot of debate as to whether or not paranormal events are real, but some states have made an extra effort to cover such occurrences.

Only a Few States Protect Sellers from Nondisclosure of Ghosts

These kinds of issues -- relating to being creeped out by a property's past -- have been brought up in court proceedings so many times, that state laws have evolved to cover such instances, particularly with regard to actual events that happened during a property's past. Still, there are only a small number of states like Massachusetts that definitively protect home sellers needing to disclose information relating to suspected ghosts and paranormal events.

If you are particularly worried about getting stuck with a haunted house, you can always ask your real estate broker, who is legally required to tell you about any hauntings related to a property (if he or she knows about them, that is). Also, you can visit to see if anyone ever died in a home you are interested in buying.