spooky haunted house

Buying A Haunted House Wouldn’t Spook A Third Of Americans

Rachel Burris4-minute read
September 07, 2021

  • One-quarter of adults claim to have lived in a haunted house
  • 1 in 3 Americans would be willing to purchase a house that is haunted
  • Only 21% would try to sell a house they purchased if they discovered it was haunted

Even before the first leaves change colors, Halloween costumes hit the racks, and ghosts and ghouls decorate storefronts across the country. Americans may be willing to open their doors – and minds – to spirits of the afterworld this time of year, but how would they feel if Halloween lasted beyond one hallowed night?

A recent survey conducted by Rocket Homes® finds that for some individuals, ghosts exist 365 days of the year. And for an even larger number of people, a haunted house is not just a spooky attraction but a place they’d be willing to call home. 

More Ghosts Are Residing In The US Than You Think

Graphic of percentage of people who have had a ghost experience.

The study, which surveyed over 1,000 Americans, found that 1 in 4 individuals have their own ghost stories. As it turns out, when asked if they’ve had any previous experience with houses that are haunted, 10.5% of respondents said they currently live in a haunted house, and 16% said that they used to live in one. An additional 19.7% said that although they don’t have any personal experience with haunted houses, they do know someone else who has lived in one.

While many would assume that the ghosts that inhabit haunted houses are malicious beings that inspire fear, the majority of adults who have experienced the real deal say otherwise. Of the 26.5% who have personal experience living in a haunted house, 41.6% describe the presence that haunts or haunted their home as positive. That’s right, 23% even choose the word friendly to characterize their live-in ghost.

However, not everyone is lucky enough to get to room with Casper. Just under a fifth (19.4%) of those with personal experience classified the presence that haunts their current or previous residence as negative, and a quarter (24.4%) classified theirs as having a neutral affect. The final 14.6% portrayed their particular ghost as mischievous, which may be better than an evil spirit. However, having the likes of Beetlejuice wreak havoc on your home would undoubtedly prove tiresome.

How did these ghosts make their presence known? According to the survey, 54.4% of respondents felt a strong presence that made them believe their home was haunted. However, most reports centered around incomprehensible sights and sounds: 49.6% heard mysterious noises, 42.7% saw apparitions, 41.6% heard unaccountable footsteps, 38.3% witnessed objects miraculously move and 31.8% caught doors inexplicably opening and closing.

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One-Third Of Americans Would Purchase A Haunted House

graphic of cartoon haunted house with a cartoon ghost by it

For many, creaking floorboards, slamming doors and the feeling of someone hovering is enough to send them running for the hills. Yet, not everyone is rattled by things that go bump in the night. In fact, 34.6% of Americans would not just be game for living in a haunted house – they’d be willing to buy one.

Sure, 40.2% of individuals would be unwilling to purchase a home that’s haunted. However, that number may just be high because most people don’t have first-hand experience with the supernatural. When specifically examining the population of individuals who have personal experience living in a haunted house, unwillingness to buy one drops by 19.4%. It seems that it’s the stereotypes that pervade popular culture that make people averse to homes with ghostly residents, not the residents themselves.

Americans who previously have shared their living quarters with ghosts appear to be the most inclined to jump into spectral co-ownership: 55.1% reported they would willingly purchase a haunted house. So, if personal experience increases an individual’s likelihood of buying a home that’s haunted, does one’s belief in the supernatural play a role?

do you believe in ghosts graphic

Based on the survey results, 55.8% of Americans believe in ghosts, 27.7% don’t believe in them and 16.5% are undecided as to whether ghosts exist. While you may assume that those who don’t believe in ghosts would be the most amenable to purchasing a haunted house – after all, what would they have to lose? – it turns out that’s not quite true.

Ghost skeptics may say they don’t believe in the existence of the supernatural, but 47.6% still reported that they’d be unwilling to buy a house that’s haunted. Ghost believers, on the other hand, are 12.8% more likely than skeptics and 26% more likely than the undecideds to purchase a haunted house. Therefore, 42.5% of those who believe in ghosts also seem to believe they’d make fine tenants.

The Majority Of Americans Would Ultimately Coexist With A Ghost

graphic of what to do if your house is haunted

It may be that just a third of Americans would knowingly buy a house that was haunted. Still, only 21.1% of respondents said they would try to sell their home if they discovered it was haunted after purchasing it. Another 13.3% said they’d keep the house but, whether through salt or sage, exorcist or medium, do their best to rid it of their ghostly roommate.

Apparently, a whopping 65.6% would decide to coexist with a ghost if they learned that one was already residing in their new home. Of those who would choose to make the most of their supernatural living arrangements, 17.1% said they’d try to ignore the ghost, and 48.5% said they’d try to acquaint themselves with the ghost either by making friends with it or learning more about its history.

Even 37.6% of those who’d be unwilling to purchase a house that was haunted said they’d try to get to know the ghost and its history if they inadvertently bought a haunted house. So, it seems that the majority of Americans wouldn’t choose to become co-tenants with a ghost. Yet, if they found themselves having already purchased a real-life haunted house, they may be more scared to face the real estate market than their ghost-in-residence.

Methodology: Learning How Americans Feel About Haunted Houses

Rocket Homes surveyed 1,033 individuals aged 24 and older to find out how Americans feel about haunted houses. The sample was controlled to ensure that one-third of respondents lived in a suburban environment, one-third in an urban environment and one-third in a rural environment. The survey was conducted online from August 11 – 30, 2021.

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Rachel Burris

Rachel Burris is a writer covering topics of interest to present and future homeowners, as well as industry insiders. Prior to joining Rocket Companies, she worked as an English teacher for the New York City Department of Education and a licensed real estate agent for Brown Harris Stevens. She holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Bucknell University, a postbaccalaureate certificate in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University.