Skeletons in the closet? Try skeletons in the floorboards, or beneath them. In recent news the house for sale on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea going for 4.1 million Swedish kronor, or about $650,000, complete with visible skeleton in the cellar floor (Goths, eat your tell-tale heart out!), got me thinking about full disclosure laws for real estate. Should owners be required to disclose to potential buyers if their house is haunted?
Every state has its own laws regarding full disclosure of known deaths. In California, sellers are required to notify buyers if a death has occurred on the property within the last 3 years. In Salem, Massachusetts psychic Lori Bruno performs blessings to exorcise negative spirits when haunting distresses the owners or prohibits a house from selling.
It seems that every paranormal show on TV can link a haunting back to the death of a person on the premises. Most real estate agents say it is up to the sellers to let potential buyers know, and that it falls under the "material disclosure" umbrella. The circumstances of the death certainly weigh in--a homeowner who died peacefully of natural causes is far less likely to haunt a place than someone who was murdered in the house, especially if it had to do with a burglary or crime in the neighborhood. In the Victorian era it was much more common for people to die at home (rather than a hospital) so anyone venturing into antique estate acquisitions has likely had a few brushes with unhappy spirits, but then again probably has a penchant for the unusual to begin with.
My own San Francisco home has given me more than one sign that it is host to some ethereal beings. Lately the Woman in the Hall seems to be more frequent--perhaps due to her interest in my infant son. And several visitors have noted a particular spot in the hall between the two bedroom doors where they have heard whispers or the hair on their neck has stood up. Once during a radio interview I was asked about my own paranormal experiences and mid-sentence a decided knocking started in the kitchen. Sure, I can probably come up with a "reasonable" explanation for each separate incident (I'll write about the Haunted Toothbrush later...), but it gets difficult to ignore the signs when there are so very many of them.
Speaking of the birth of my son, the Woman in the Hall, who I've been sensing for years but had never seen, showed her shadowy figure to me for the first time when I was home alone with him recently, my back to the living room door. I got the feeling she was curious, but a bit on the shy side. And for some reason, confined mostly to the hall. There are other spirits too. A child, and what seems to be a cat.
I am a renter but would the haunting have swayed me? Of course! In the direction of purchasing. A sprawling, five bedroom house on an island in Sweden with an 800-year-old skeleton in its floor? Sounds like a dream! The only thing better might be having a cemetery for a side yard. But that's just me. In freakitude, Varla.