When it comes to spooky real estate, Bruce Ailion considers himself pretty blasé.
The Woodstock Re/Max realtor has marketed houses where people have died of natural causes, houses where people were murdered, houses that sit next door to cemeteries. But this time of year, he’s reminded how many people are squeamish about death, unsure about spirits, and how the line tends to blur.
Realtor.com recently asked 1,000 people if they’d consider buying a supposedly haunted house and 40 percent of them said no way, crossed their fingers and knocked on wood. Almost 33 percent, however, were open to the idea. Under the right circumstances.
Among the open-minded, 40 percent took the tried-and-true, all-American approach. They would want a discount. Nearly as many said they’d put up with lingering spirits for the right neighborhood.
Just how much weirdness would they put up with? Well, 48 percent said they’re fine with unexplained cold or hot spots in their home. Strange noises? About 45 percent said they don’t mind. How about those spooky, creepy, irrational feelings that you get in certain rooms? For 39 percent, that’s OK.
But levitating objects? Or that eerie, scary feeling that you are being touched when no one is there?
Only an adventurous 20 percent said that was fine.
A Trulia Research survey of more than 2,000 adults found that millennial men were the most spook-friendly: 28 of males between the ages of 18 and 34 said they would be “much or somewhat more likely to buy a home” if there was a suspicion that the property was haunted.
To each his own.
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Not long ago, Ailion had a listing for a house in a modestly priced Jonesboro neighborhood. Next door was what seemed to be a vacant lot.
“I was with a buyer who decided to take a walk around, thinking that maybe he’d buy that lot next door, too,” Ailion said. “We found a small cemetery with 10 or 12 burial locations. Three or four had names. Eight of them were just rocks, but you could tell there was a body buried beneath. That buyer decided that he didn’t want to buy it.”
In the cold-blooded marketplace, people who don’t feel that hesitation have an advantage, he said. “I bought a house in Marietta that had been owned by two people who had died. A lot of people weren’t interested in buying the house. I got a good deal on it.”
And while Ailion is no ghost-hunter, he’s not a total doubter, either.
“I experienced an apparition in a relative’s house once in the middle of the night. They told me later that the figure looked like a deceased relative.”
That was unnerving, he said. “I’d probably not buy that house.”
Realtors say there aren’t all that many homes with “haunted” reputations – and sellers don’t always mention it when there are.
With good reason, said K.O. Robinson of Lawrenceville. For her, it’s a deal breaker.
When she and her husband were house-hunting a few years back, they saw photos of a home in Gwinnett – maybe it was Lilburn – and were excited to see it. But once inside, they felt something was wrong.
“It was dark and the air felt different,” she remembers. “Parts of the house felt isolated from other parts. It was creepy. And we just walked away.”
Maybe not Amityville, but close enough. Especially after a childhood experience in Decatur.
She was staying in a bedroom that had been added on to the house, a history she didn’t know. And among the previous residents was a young man who was charged as a sex offender – something else she didn’t know.
“A couple times, I’d be in the room by myself and hear footsteps come from the house and into my room,” she said. “As soon as the steps got into the room, it suddenly felt like I was outside somehow.”
And then the steps went away.
“Once my parents knew that this happened, they wanted to move and we did,” she said.
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