FEATURE STORY: Times are bad now. With the economic downward spiral and the ever soaring cost of basic staples, the last thing many will think of is to purchase a house.
But what if you come across the house of your dream with just the perfect selling price tag? Say, rather than paying RM500k you can opt for an apartment or house at half the price or lower? The only drawback being -- a tragic death had taken place there. Would the price tag subsequently win you over?
Although researches indicate that most people do not believe in ghosts, many still recoil at the thought of buying a house that is believed to be haunted.
In an online survey carried out by Realtor.com, 38 per cent of the 1,410 participants said that they would refrain from buying a house that was presumed haunted. And for those who actually consider buying a haunted house, the survey found three-quarters would expect a price reduction because of the stigma tied to it.
Typically, a tragic death inside a home decreases the value of the property, particularly if the death had been publicised. Homes with a stigma can also be challenging to dispose of, resulting in a lower selling price in comparison to the same non-stigmatised properties.
For example, a condominium in Pantai Hillpark Phase 1, took two years to sell and endured a RM100,000 loss. The rationale behind it may very well be due to the fact that the apartment unit was the site of the murder of the lady owner who was bludgeoned to death by her boyfriend.
Another example is of homeowners Richard and his wife who had been spooked out by their home since they bought it. The house is believed to have been constructed on top of an old cemetery.
Between the mysterious midnight banging of doors, there were the odd noises coming from the guest bathroom like the showers turning on by itself and the persistent feeling that someone is constantly watching them.
Unable to tolerate it any longer, the couple decided to put their double- storey corner link house in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, up for sale at a mere price tag of RM450,000 from the RM680,000 they paid for it . Though considered to be prime location property, five years has since passed and still there have been no takers.
Similarly, a physically exquisite home can be made psychologically unappealing by a tragic death taking place in it. Nothing may be wrong with the construction, but the inescapable fact that something like murder or suicide took place inside could taint the home's character and put off potential buyers.
For one, superstitious buyers in particular may think that the home has bad “feng shui” or energy, or may be occupied by the previous owner's spirit. They may be incapable of looking beyond past events to see the home's redeeming attributes.
There is also the “pantang” or bad luck that comes with this sort of properties, especially in Asia. For some, they believe that if a death had taken place in the premises, then it is cursed and they or anyone of their family might possibly follow suit.
But at the end of the day, it all boils down to whether you believe in ghosts or not? If your answer is no, then you wouldn’t be freaked out by strange noises or weird shadows in the dead of night. The nature of death also plays a significant role here. For example, if someone had died unexpectedly, or of old age, it'll probably be a little bit more acceptable. However, if they had been brutally killed, committed suicide, or anything else just as horrifying, it may be sufficient to frighten anybody away completely.
But what if you have already purchased a “haunted house” without knowing? David and his wife Susan fell in love with a house believed to be haunted in the Segambut area, just outside Kuala Lumpur. They acquired the five-bedroom double-storey freehold bungalow for the shocking price of RM250,000 (it is said to be valued at around RM1.5 mil) and moved in about a year later after they made some restorations. That’s when they began experiencing strange occurrences. It seems that their dream home was haunted.
“There are times when we can hear a cluster of ‘people’ talking and laughing the minute we go upstairs to bed. It felt like there was a party going on right in our living room,” David said.
At times, the couple’s TV would go on and off on its own while they were having dinner, doors would open and close on their own, they would find their furniture rearranged, and sometimes they would sense someone sitting beside them in bed or on the sofa.
Susan was more forthcoming saying that she didn’t mind “sharing” her home with a ghost or ghosts as long as they don’t bother her and so far, after living in the same house for four years, they have not.
“Only some sellers would actually reveal psychological concerns, like if a house is stigmatised. A house believed to have spirits could fall under that classification,” said Mrs Wong, a real-estate consultant.
"Say for example you think your house is haunted or if you find out that a horrible murder had taken place there, this could make a lot of difference on the outcome of the sale and the value of the house," she said.
Either way, the dead can bring about superb price reduction in today's property market. It would depend on whether or not the seller chooses to reveal such tragedy and also whether we are open to buying a property after knowing that a tragic death had taken place there. In the end, a house with a bloody past may just be the answer for many seeking to own a home they can call theirs.
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