HEARD the ONE about BOB HOPE?
“The house is 23,366 square feet and contains 10 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms. The lot is roughly six acres in size. The property originally went on the market for $50 million. Right now, the current listing price is $24,999,000.”
HOW to SELL a HAUNTED HOUSE
Got Ghosts? How to Sell a ‘Haunted’ House
by Gina Roberts-Grey / October 2011
“The personal residence was small, as most of the behemoth structure was intended to be used to entertain, feed, and potentially house hundreds of guests.”
“Haunted properties fall within the category of stigmatized properties, or real estate that is not defective in any physical manner, but due to psychological or emotional factors may have a reduced value. Among the situations covered under the title of stigmatized is a property that was the site of a murder, suicide, alleged haunting, or other parapsychological phenomenon,” says Steven J.J. Weisman, a Cambridge, Mass., lawyer and college professor who teaches about paranormal disclosures in his business law class at Bentley University. About half of U.S. states have laws that deal with stigmatized properties, but most don’t require sellers to disclose if they have a ghost.
“…Bob was politically connected and knew how to lure people in and insure they would work for him. He invited them to his parties and dangled various kinds of illegal or immoral perversions in their faces. Once their perversions were uncovered, he could blackmail or control them…”
For instance, Massachusetts law says property owners do not have to disclose if the property is the “site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.” If a state doesn’t have a statute that requires disclosure of hauntings, Weisman says sellers don’t necessarily have to spill the beans about spirits that roam the halls. But even if your state doesn’t require you to disclose that you’ve got things going bump in the night, it’s often good customer service that can save a sale. “We don’t have paranormal disclosure laws in our market — however, I always encourage sellers to disclose any factor that may affect the desirability of a property,” says Timothy J. Singer, a practitioner with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
If you stay tight-lipped and the buyers freak out when they find out a ghost could be living in the closet, they could be able to back out of the sale. “In one well-documented New York case from 1991, the sale was voided due to the seller not informing the buyer of the house’s reputation for being haunted. The same reasoning could also be used in other states if there aren’t clear laws about disclosing paranormal activity,” Weisman says.
That’s because in addition to scaring buyers, paranormal activity may lower a property’s value. But in some cases, ghosts and ghouls may also up the price or a property. “Some customers look for homes with an interesting history, as they feel it adds to a property’s character,” Singer says. “Not everyone is bothered by the possibility of spirits hanging around.”
“…They research what people’s weaknesses are, whether they are sex, drugs, sexual perversion, financial gain — they lure them in and once people have been forced and coerced to participate and do the dirty deed – and a lot of times it was filmed, videotaped and documented – and these people who were already in positions of financial, political, whatever power, were then told ‘this will be public knowledge and information if you don’t go along with us…’
If a potential buyer is wondering about ghosts or other supernatural characteristics, they talk to their agent, who then gets answers from the listing agent. “I try to explain everything from broken faucets to ghosts to the best of my ability with some thought to the buyer’s level of understanding. After all, you don’t want to scare the client away, but some clients may interpret incidents differently. If the consumer exhibits understanding of ghosts and the like, it is easier to talk about,” says Jerry Grodesky, a real estate broker with Farm and Lake Houses Real Estate, in Buckley, Ill. Of course, downplaying a ghost is much easier if the ghost doesn’t come out to play during a showing.
“…I was only 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 years old when I was performing many of these earlier sex/espionage missions. It was the perfect cover. In my late teens and early 20’s I was taken aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers when Bob was doing a show on his USO tours, to “entertain the troops”…
“I was sitting at the dining room table doing an open house, and saw movement on the staircase in my peripheral vision. When I asked the seller about any unusual experiences, she said her boyfriend saw the ghost quite frequently and the house was known in the neighborhood to be haunted,” says Cindi Hagley, a real estate broker and the owner of Past Life Homes, a division of the Hagley Group at Prudential California Realty that sells and consults on stigmatized houses of all types, including hauntings and paranormal activity.
If a spirit pops up on a showing, Hagley says she explains some people claim to have experienced paranormal occurrences at the property. “I ask how the prospective buyers feel about what they saw or experienced and if it made them uncomfortable, or if it would prevent them from buying the property. Addressing it immediately and creating dialogue is much better than pretending it never happened,” she says.
Considering not everyone believes in ghosts, divulging information about the presence of paranormal activity could lead to people thinking you’re crazy. Before you sign a statement saying your house is haunted, you should check all the commonsense possibilities first. Instead of thinking a shadow is a spirit, explore its origin. Funny noises and creaks can be loose boards or pipes, and flickering can be as simple as a bulb that’s not screwed in properly. A home inspector can help you rule out ghosts by uncovering these types of issues.
“…They would zap me with electroshock either on the forehead, the base of my skull, or on my back or thighs. I was often in very poor condition when we were helicoptered away and Bob laughed and made excuses for my listlessness, saying things like, “Ah, don’t worry about her, the kid’s just had too much to drink…”
“It’s tough to use broad strokes when defining what should be disclosed if there are no laws stating such. Paranormal activity could be more prominent or not at all depending on the person. Some may dismiss weird occurrences as a novelty,” says Grodesky. “I believe that if a home is known to be haunted, it needs be disclosed to the buyer,” adds Hagley.
Of course, if the question comes up, and Singer says from time to time potential buyers do ask about paranormal activity or ghosts, you need to come clean. And remember, if your home has an open and notorious reputation of being haunted, you might want to spread the word. “This may even add value to some prospective buyers,” says Hagley.
“…Bob Hope, whose home is in Palm Springs, was a regular guest at the Annenberg Estate. He was valued for his many contacts and his contribution to the Annenberg’s social register, which at times included Henry Kissinger. Incidentally, Bob was knighted by Queen Elizabeth several years ago, as was Sir George Bush…”
Debra Duneier, a real estate broker in New York and author of EcoChi: Designing The Human Experience, recommends having your property cleared to get rid of ghosts. “Clearing the property will give any lingering energy the permission and strength to move on,” she says. Professional “space clearers” claim to communicate with visitors from the Great Beyond, by either helping them resolve the issues causing them to live rent-free in a house or simply asking them to leave, thus clearing the property of ghosts. Bonnie Vent, a psychic medium who runs the site SD Paranormal, which helps match buyers and sellers with haunted properties, cautions not to pay for a cleaning. “In my experience, they are not effective.”
LET THE BUYER BEWARE
What the Law Says About Selling Haunted Houses
by Matt Soniak / October 31, 2011
“Most U.S. states require sellers to fill out a standard form disclosing what they know about the property’s condition and list any potential physical defects. This is a relatively recent reverse of the older “buyer beware” norm in real estate and lets buyers know ahead of time of any major problems with their dream home. There are other defects besides faulty wiring and sinking foundations, though. Some states go a step further and require sellers to also disclose “emotional defects” that could impact and stigmatize a property. This includes traumatic events like murders and suicides, reported paranormal activity and even proximity to homeless shelters. Whether you have to disclose anything and what types of defects you have to disclose all depends on the jurisdiction. If a seller does have to disclose emotional defects, which ones and how much detail they need to go into again varies among locations.
In Massachusetts, for example, the possibility of a property being “psychologically impacted” isn’t considered a “material fact required to be disclosed” to potential buyers. In Virginia, emotional defects like murders and ghost sightings only have to be disclosed if they physically affect the property. In California, as American Horror Story demonstrates, sellers do have to disclose emotional defects, but only in a very limited way. The state Civil Code requires that a death on the property only needs to be disclosed if it occurred less than three years prior to the sale and older incidents need to be addressed only if the buyer specifically asks. Some jurisdictions are a little more vague in the way they word things, so smart sellers could potentially disclose what they need to without having to drop words like “haunted,” “poltergeist” or “murder spree.”
There’s an infamous court case often cited when it comes to disclosure law, Stambovsky v. Ackley, that revolves around a haunted house. Helen Ackley owned a big old Victorian home in Nyack, New York. The town sits about 30 miles north of New York City on the west bank of the Hudson River, in an area known for many haunted places, including the legendary Sleepy Hollow. Mrs. Ackley was well aware that her house was supposedly haunted. In fact, she claims to have seen several ghosts herself, including one that gave her approval for a new paint color in the living room and several dressed in colonial-era clothing. She described her home’s ghosts for the local newspaper and Reader’s Digest and even got the house featured on a “haunted house” walking tour of Nyack.
When she decided to put the house up for sale and retire to Florida, though, Mrs. Ackley suddenly got very shy about the ghosts. Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky wanted to buy the house and agreed to Ackley’s asking price of $650,000. It wasn’t until after the couple gave Ackley a $32,500 down payment that they were talking to a local about their purchase and were asked, “Oh, you’re buying the haunted house?” The Stambovskys were not exactly thrilled to learn about the alleged haunting of their new home and attempted to back out of the sale. Ackley would neither admit any wrongdoing nor cancel the sale and return the deposit, so the Stambovskys took her to court.
They lost the case, with the court citing their caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) responsibility to uncover the property’s defects before committing to a sale. They appealed and the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled in their favor in a 3-2 decision. The court found that, regardless of whether or not ghosts are real and the house was truly haunted, the fact that the house had been widely reported as haunted affected its value. Ackley “had deliberately fostered the belief that her home was possessed by ghosts” in the past and was therefore at fault for not disclosing this attribute of the house to the buyers, who, not being locals, could not readily learn about the defect on their own.
Applying the strict rule of caveat emptor to a contract involving a house possessed by poltergeists conjures up visions of a psychic or medium routinely accompanying the structural engineers and Terminix man on an inspection of every home subject to a contract of sale.” The Stambovskys eventually got their money back and Ackley eventually sold the house despite, or maybe because of, the fact that she had to disclose her supposed ghosts.”
“Fritz Springmeier elaborates on Bob Hope’s role: “There have been numerous connections in this author’s research about the CIA mind control which connects back to the U.S.O. (the American military entertainers that traveled in USO units on tours.) The story about how the USO was used to carry messages to mind-controlled agents and military men would include many names.”
“Bob Hope & the USO were used to carry trigger words to these mind-controlled people. Likewise, what better person to pick than Bob Hope to run messages worldwide? Bob Hope was British, and MI6 knew they could trust him. Bob Hope has an excellent ability to learn and say lines. Bob was… great with words, knowing how to fit them together and to make puns and double and triple meaning sentences. His ability to construct sentences with double meanings was a great cover for the hidden messages he transmitted for allied intelligence during the war. If you want to keep a secret the best place is out in the open…”
“Hope met Queen Elizabeth II on several occasions. In 1978, she made Hope an honorary knight. “I left England when I was four because I found out I could never be King.”
“Bob Hope, who was already a radio and movie star before W.W.II, was given wide publicity as he traveled all over for the U.S.O. . Bob Hope was ‘just an entertainer,’ and yet he visited Roosevelt. Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, and all kinds of military men… Bob traveled all over the world to every front during the war, including England, Africa, the South Pacific. the East & west coasts of the U.S. the Caribbean, Panama, etc.”
Bob Hope with General George Patton
“He could fit all kinds of signals into his jokes and talks, and no one would be the wiser. Under the disguise of building morale by being a comedian, Bob could go anywhere and because he always was making jokes, no one took him seriously.”
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