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Friday, October 26, 2007

Mortgaging Your Ghost

Ilya Somin / Volokh Conspiracy:
Property Law and Belief in Ghosts -- In my introductory Property law class, I recently taught Stambovsky v. Ackley, the famous 1991 New York appellate decision which ruled that the seller of a home had a legal duty to reveal to the buyer the fact that the house was widely believed to be haunted by ghosts. The court famously opined that the house was "haunted as a matter of law," though the more prosaic basis for the decision was the fact that a reputation for being haunted could damage the resale value of the house even if there weren't really any ghosts there.

Interestingly, a recent AP survey reveals that 34% of Americans believe in ghosts and 23% claim to have actually seen one. A 2006 poll found that 37 percent believe that a location can be haunted.

Arguably, these poll results strengthen the case for the court's ruling in Stambovsky. If belief in ghosts and hauntings is widespread, a reputation for being haunted could seriously depress a home's value, and potential buyers have a legitimate interest in knowing about it before deciding to purchase [...]

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