In recent years, the public perception of owning a haunted house has gone from being most people’s worst nightmares to damn near enviable, but for those of us who’ve found ourselves living in a home prone to paranormal activity, the situation isn’t always a Tim-Burton dance number or a slam dunk book deal. Living in a haunted home can be a frightening, confusing, and often life-changing experience.. for better or worse.
Still looking for a spooky home to call your very own? If you do want to buy a haunted house, I hope that the first step in the process is to ask yourself just exactly what your motivation is. Are you hoping to end up on your favorite paranormal series? Are you going to convert it into a haunted bed and breakfast? Or are you just hoping to have your own personal experiences with the paranormal?
I’ve put together a series of steps that anyone looking to own a genuine haunted house should diligently stick to. If you find yourself only making it through half the list, you may want to think about abandoning your idea and finding with a nice, quiet, two-story ranch instead.
Here’s your definitive guide to buying a haunted house, according to a ghost hunter.
So you’ve discovered a beautiful victorian with arched windows, a spiral staircase, and a spooky widow’s peak. It’s well-within your price range, and better yet, the seller is offering you a deal because it’s haunted. This place would make the ultimate paranormal paradise, but are the building’s ghosts rooted in true encounters or urban legends?
Before you pull the trigger, press the seller. Who are the ghosts? How did they die? Who did they scare? Did they appear to any of the previous owners?
If the sellers are claiming that the house is haunted, they should be able to reasonably provide evidence that there’s truth to their claims.
If the seller has convinced you that their spooky house is pulsing with paranormal energy, it’s on to step two: researching them.
Do some Google-fu on the homeowners, run their names through public records, check for court cases, and put your ear to the ground in the local community. If they’ve been associated with any dirty dealings in the past or have connections to any known paranormal hoaxes, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re trying to scam you, and if that’s the case, head in the other direction as fast as possible.
Now that you know the seller is on the up and up, it’s time to head to the library and get down and dirty with the local historian. Do some research on the haunted house’s property, its geological makeup, and dig into the town’s history while you’re at it.
There’s obvious reasons why paranormal hot spots like Gettysburg, New Orleans, or Salem are ground zero some ghosts, but what about the home of your potential haunt? Look for historical facts that would back up the claims presented by the homeowners. You might find that there’s more to the haunting than meets the eye.
If you’ve made it past the research phase convinced that your haunted dream home is teeming with spirits, then it’s time to conduct an actual investigation. After all, if you’re going to live there, it’s probably a good idea to introduce yourself to your new roommates and make sure you get along.
Put your paranormal investigation skills to good use and search the house for possible explanations for the strange activity. Use an EMF meter to seek out sources of stray electromagnetic fields from faulty wiring and check windows and walls for drafts that could be misconstrued as cold spots. Do your best to try to debunk any of the paranormal claims yourself before jumping to conclusions, because at the end of the day, you’re looking to buy a haunted house – not a poorly-insulated fixer-upper with a fictional backstory.
If you’re not an investigator, find a local team that can help you get to the bottom of the reported activity.
Don’t discount good old intuition. Humans are hardwired to respond to the supernatural, so pay attention to those goosebumps. Your own gut is probably going to be the best ghost detector – and bullshit detector – you’ve got access to, so use it!
Do the home, the sellers, and the situation feel weird, and not in an a paranormal way? Go with your instincts, because they’re probably right! There’s plenty of people out there selling “haunted” dolls, non-functional ghost hunting tools, and “possessed” property that are a complete load of crap more often than they aren’t. If you’ve got a hunch that something is up, walk.
On that same note, if your intuition is telling you that the paranormal claims are true, but they’re coming from a negative place, think long and hard about the implications of moving in. If your gut is telling you that you’ll be walking into a potentially dangerous situation, consider that living in the midst of a violent haunting can be psychologically – and often physically – destructive.
Share your research, your evidence, and your gut feelings with anyone who will listen! Contact your fellow paranormal investigators, tell your friends about your plans, and get your family involved in the process. They’re probably going to be the ones helping you move into your anomalous abode, so this is the perfect time to prepare them for Thanksgiving in a haunted house.
Reach out to trusted people who you know will give you a fair and impartial opinion about your discoveries. It’s easy to wear blinders on a quest for the supernatural, but friends and family have a great way of letting us down easy if we’ve become too wrapped up in our quest to see the truth.
One of the coolest aspects of the paranormal community is that many of our most experienced investigators are not only easily-accessible and down-to-earth people with a real passion for the subject matter, they’re always eager to take a peek at your findings.
From television personalities like Paranormal Lockdown‘s Nick Groff or Kindred Spirits‘ Amy Bruni, lecturers and veteran paranormal investigators like John E.L. Tenney, to honest-to-goodness parapsychologists like Dr. Ciarán O’Keeffe, there are countless people in this community with a lifetime of unique experience in dealing with the supernatural, and nearly all of them are willing to lend their expert opinions.
Reach out on social media, use the contact forms on their websites, or visit them in person at an upcoming paranormal event in your area. Show them what you’ve discovered, lay out your plans, and ask them for advice. Chances are, they might just make or break your decision, as long as you’re willing to accept that they might not tell you what you want to hear.
If you’ve made it this far down the checklist, then congratulations, you’ve found a haunted house and the only thing left to do is move in. Now ask yourself, “do I know what I’m getting into?”
Any cursory glance at paranormal history (or the horror movies based on it) proves that there are countless traumatic and terrifying stories associated with living in a haunted home. While high-profile cases like The Amityville Horror or the Enfield Poltergeist are often overly-dramatized and exceedingly rare situations for residents of a haunted home to find themselves in, the fact is that living between two worlds is not always fun.
Owners of haunted homes are often surprised to discover that they’re perfectly at peace sharing their space with the dead, but it’s the living that prove to deliver the most terrifying harassment. Residing in a haunted house means teenage thrill-seekers peering in your windows at night, reporters knocking on your door, and endless requests to investigate the property from people who may very well make things worse.
On the other hand, dealing with unpredictable spirits on a daily basis can be a traumatic and isolating experience, and for many families, living with ghosts is the very thing that ruins relationships and causes deep rifts that last for years. Consider the ramifications of choosing to eat, sleep, and live your life in a house that’s still being inhabited by the dead. In many cases it can and will be life altering, so ask yourself: “is this really worth it?”
If you’re prepared to accept the potential social, psychological, and personal ramifications of moving into a haunted house, then before you sign those closing papers, make sure you have a backup plan for when shit gets a little too real.
In a lot of cases, latent paranormal activity can be triggered by the right people, actions, or things, so don’t be surprised if that friendly ghost turns into a violent poltergeist when grandma moves in with her collection of weird West-African idols.
White sage is great for ridding people and places of negative entities, but if you’re Catholic, so is inviting the priest over for a blessing. Personally, I don’t move into a new place without a handful of charged quartz crystal above every window and door.
Whether you’re grabbing supplies from a New Age bookstore, stocking up on holy water, or just preparing a safe place to center yourself when things get hairy, make sure that that you’ve got a back up plan for when the activity ramps up, because chances are, sooner or later, it will.
Congratulations, you’ve made it! You’ve found your haunted dream home, buried yourself in research and clawed your way out, investigated the property, weighed the advice of experts and friends, and you’ve come to terms with all the potential outcomes of living side-by-side with the dead. This is it, you’re closing on the house and scheduling the moving truck.
Before you carry that first box through the threshold, I’ve got one last piece of important advice for you, and it’s a piece of wisdom that’s important not just for potential residents of haunted houses, but for anyone that deals in the paranormal.
No matter where you end up, don’t forget that many of the ghosts we interact with were once people too.
When we watch movies like The Conjuring, read books like The Entity, or watch television shows like A Haunting, it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day, the average haunting isn’t a terrifying portal to hell filled with demonic entities that insist on torturing us, but rather the result of a spirit that is either unable, unwilling, or unaware that it can move on.
Whether they’re residual or intelligent, if most of the ghosts we encounter were once human beings just like you and I, then those who torment, harass, or exploit them for monetary gain are the true evil entities, not the disembodied spirits still with us.
In all of my dealings with ghosts, I’ve found that respect is a two way street. Those looking to live peacefully with the spirits of the dead will generally find that balance, and the acknowledgement of a shared world without fear goes a long way to establish a healthy relationship between both parties, whichever side of the veil they may reside.
After all this, if you’re still ready to buy that haunted house, I’d say you’ve earned the right. You’re a compassionate, understanding human being who has fully prepared themselves for the responsibility of owning a paranormally-active property and co-habitating with the spirits that have chosen to reside there.
Being the homeowner of a haunted house can be a quirky, kooky, fun-filled experience, but it can also be a private burden that weighs heavily on the mind and body. Ghosts are rarely the terrifying menace or hoop-jumping circus monkeys they’re portrayed as. Most were once people with personalities, preferences, and dysfunctions no different than ours, and as the caretaker of their property, you become their caretaker as well. In most cases, your decision spans the length of a lifetime, if not longer. I hope you’re ready for it.
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