What do metro Atlantans think about buying ‘haunted’ homes?


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.

VIDEO: Family seeks live-in nanny for ‘haunted’ house

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.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local business news. Subscribe to myAJC.com. 



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Home Depot CEO says company investing, well-positioned
Home Depot CEO says company investing, well-positioned

Home Depot, the largest company based in Georgia, is poised for a growth spurt, but not because it plans to open a rash of new stores. Instead, the company will build more than 100 warehouses and distribution centers around the United States, including in Georgia, said Craig Menear, the company’s chief executive, during an...
Airlines expect record number of summer travelers
Airlines expect record number of summer travelers

A record 246.1 million passengers are expected to travel on U.S. airlines this summer, according to an industry group. Lobbying group Airlines for America said that’s the number of passengers expected on U.S. airline flights from June through August, up 3.7 percent from last year. The volume of traffic expected amounts to an average of 2.68 million...
Wes Moss: What you need to remember when navigating choppy markets
Wes Moss: What you need to remember when navigating choppy markets

I recently got a question from a listener to my radio show that I believe is relevant to just about every investor out there. For the sake of this article, we’ll call her Debbie. Debbie is retired and in her early 60s. For years, she kept a significant portion of her retirement savings in cash, waiting to put it to work when the time was right...
Atlanta ranks 10th in population increase, U.S. Census Bureau reports
Atlanta ranks 10th in population increase, U.S. Census Bureau reports

Among the U.S. cities with the biggest jump in population, Atlanta ranked 10th last year, according to a newly released report by the U.S. Census Bureau. The city saw an influx of 13,323 new residents between July 2016 and July 2017, translating to about 36 people moving in each day. Nationally, at the top of the list, San Antonio registered the largest...
New bank law spurs both support and criticism in Georgia
New bank law spurs both support and criticism in Georgia

Some Georgia bankers joined U.S. Sen. David Perdue in praising this week’s rollback of the Dodd-Frank law’s restrictions on banks, although consumer groups criticized the measure. The new banking law, signed by President Trump on Thursday, loosens the restraints on banks that were put in place by the Dodd-Frank law after the financial...
More Stories