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Would you buy a haunted house? The unusual business of haunted real estate

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Posted at 4:12 PM, Oct 29, 2021

If you love all things scary and Halloween, you probably know the movie The Conjuring. The Rhode Island house that inspired the film is for sale.

Would you buy a haunted house? A Rocket Homes study says 1 in 3 Americans would.

No matter where you’re from, your city has ghost stories. Perhaps there are some places that just have more stories to tell.

“Welcome to New Orleans, baby!” a woman shouted, adorned in beads and feathered boas.

Down in the French Quarter, street painter Alexander Greatness, artist Grantham McGee, and Dance Lady of New Orleans Jennifer Jones all understand why their city has such an interest in the macabre.

“Yes, it is haunted,” said Alexander. “It gets scary sometimes.”

“I don’t go exploring these things,” smiled Grantham.

“Words can’t explain it,” said Jennifer. “It hits me, and I can’t sleep until four in the morning. It’s a feeling.”

Someone else who knows about ghosts is a man in an office downtown.

“I’m a real estate broker,” said Finis Shelnutt.

When one of his homes goes up on the market, you might see one of his signs. For Sale. Condominium. Haunted.

“I didn’t know there was a market for it!” said Grantham.

“It’s a caveat saying, ‘This is what you’re getting,’” said Jennifer.

So, how many haunted places has Finis sold?

“That’s a loaded question, buddy,” he said. “You don’t have enough time on that camera.”

Not everyone in real estate would take this approach. While states have disclosure laws, an analysis by Zillow found no state requires sellers to disclose hauntings, and only New Jersey requires an answer if asked. Finis said it’s a matter of being honest to a buyer.

“I guarantee you there will be celebrities who, just to make their mom mad, are gonna scoop one up, live in it twice, and sell it to a vampire,” said Grantham.

So, let’s go on a showing. Finis said this building he leases out on St. Louis Street has a very old history, an orphanage just after the Civil War.

“And so, the kids run around on this floor,” said Finis. “We use this room for weddings and special events and a mother will bring a 3-year-old up. The 3-year-old will say, ‘Mommy, I wanna go play with this little girl. The little girl standing at the top of the stairs.’”

Tenants say things happen they can’t explain, like doors opening and slamming on their own.

“In the middle of the night, the refrigerator door would open and close, open and close, open and close,” Finis said. “I can’t say for no reason. It’s only for one reason.”

Stories like that might stop someone in many cities from moving in. But then, New Orleans isn’t every city.

“You may have someone who really wants that,” said Jennifer.

“We all capitalize on it, and I’m glad the other agencies don’t,” said Finis.

So, would you live in a haunted house?

“Honey, would you let me buy a haunted house?” Gratham asked. “NO!” “No, I would not. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I would not unless I was going to immediately flip it to Nicolas Cage.”

“Absolutely not,” Jennifer said. “Do I want to go soak in someone’s unresolved issues? No, I wouldn’t.”

Alexander has a different take.

“I would definitely want to buy a haunted house and say I am a tourist guide to my haunted house and make a big roll of money! Woo!”

Finis said he’ll continue to sell these haunted homes up until the day he hopes to haunt the French Quarter himself.

“I want to,” he said. “Everyone says I’m just one of the characters. Yeah, I’m not going anywhere.”