Sunday, October 30, 2011

Haunted Real Estate

The archetype for a "haunted house" - an ornate Victorian home with a tower and Mansard roof - is a central icon in our celebration of Halloween. In reality such a house, if priced right, would likely draw multiple offers as the dream of restoring a "fixer" to former glory is also a well-established cultural tradition.

Before we get too much off the subject of real estate, let's note the legalities of buying or selling a haunted house. In our diverse community there are those who hold beliefs about the spirits of the deceased. It's something to be recognized and respected.

You have probably heard that a seller must disclose any death on the property within the past three years because of this. The law (Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 1710.2) actually says that a buyer cannot successfully sue a seller for failing to disclose such an event that is more than three years old. But lawyers opine that there might be exceptions if the events were notorious in a "Nightmare on Elm Street" kind of way.

The East Bay has its share noted haunts. Journalist Teresa Chin mentions several, but particularly investigates Mills College, in her article "Haunted Oakland". Ghost hunting is no longer occult; it has become a recreational sport. A web site called Ghosts of America lists ghosts by location and type. California ranks with 2,269 reports, and over 80 of them are in our two East Bay counties. San Leandro tops the list with an unlucky count of 13. Berkeley has no reports on that site, but a similar site, California's Haunted Hot Spots, reports a seriously local ghost confined to room 219 of the U.C. Berkeley Faculty Club.

Turning again to the local real estate market, the public remains spooked by foreclosures, short sales and economic uncertainty. Yet we still have high attendance at open houses, and the best properties still provoke competitive overbidding. Some markets are down, others appear to be improving. Real knowledge is the best antidote for fear, so please call me if you feel haunted by real estate worries. Let me be your personal ghost-buster.

On the lighter side, staged haunted houses are offered as holiday entertainment. Some are commercial, others are sponsored by non-profit organizations. One promoted by Fear Venue is located at the Bayfair Mall in San Leandro. A more varied list and an event map is offered at Haunted Bay. This also includes pumpkin patches and other Halloween entertainment.

Whether this season is a time for remembrance of departed loved ones, an occasion for family entertainment, or just a nuisance, I hope that you stay safe and warm as the days shorten and the seasonal rains return. As always, please call me if you have any real estate or home maintenance issues still haunting you, and I always have a spirited welcome for your referrals

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