A round-up of some of the spookiest spaces currently on the market around the world
Most haunted homes in the world - would you live in one?
In the run-up to Halloween, Realtor.com released the findings of its Haunted Real Estate survey, which indicated that 33 per cent of a sample group of 1,000 home seekers would consider buying a purportedly “haunted” house, especially if it meant they were getting a better deal. Property-wise, this translated to 61 per cent saying they would invest in a supposedly haunted home if it meant they had more space and bedrooms; 40 per cent would ask for the price to be reduced; while 35 per cent would take the plunge if it meant they could move to a better neighbourhood.
The survey also revealed the paranormal activities that people said they could make their peace with. Almost half the group was OK with inexplicable hot or cold spots; while strange noises and mysterious shadows came close behind. The least tolerable things included levitating objects and – absolutely unsurprisingly – the feeling of being touched.
A representative from Realtor.com said: “We wanted to see how many people would actually live in so-called haunted homes. What we found may be a sign of today’s tight housing market, because for many it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker.”
Here are some properties, currently on sale, that for a range of reasons, give us the spooks.
Mannequin House, Houston, Texas
Asking price: US$1.3 million (Dh4.7m)
Every inch of this stately home in a swanky Richmond community is covered in mannequins, eerie pictures, and stuffed and skinned animals, all created by current owner and artist Sandy. The life-size dolls can also be found propped up on stools, hanging feet first from the ceiling and under the bed, with only their legs sticking out. A mannequin even greets you at the front gate, while a chef doll stands to attention in the kitchen. While most of the figurines are placed in plain sight, such as the cowboy at the bar and a chef doll in the kitchen, others are camouflaged, including one little girl hiding behind a faux Christmas tree. Other features include dried plants, fake fish and a stuffed bunny rabbit. The five-bedroom house, with hardwood floors and walk-in wardrobes, also has a family room with a stone fireplace, game room with a pool table, outdoor kitchen, swimming pool and garage apartment.
Morgan Mansion, Dunsmuir, California
Asking price: US$100,000 (Dh367,300)
Located off the scenic Sacramento River in northern California, this 1920s property once housed a mortuary on its first floor. Current owner Brad Warner reported “mildly annoying” paranormal activity, such as the electric fire and internet connection switching off, and various doors banging shut by themselves, but said no real harm came to him and his wife in the five years that they lived there. They did, however, call the police one night when they thought they saw a hand on the glass bathroom door; the intruder (or apparition) was never found or seen again, thankfully. Book worms might be interested to know that this house was the inspiration for Maralee Lowder’s best-selling novel The Mortician’s Wife. Plus, the property is going for a steal; since it came on the market two years ago, the price of the four-storey, five-bedroom property has been slashed by about 88 per cent, from $900,000.
Wyckoff Villa, Carleton Island, New York
Asking price: US$495,000 (Dh1.8 million)
Considered one of the grandest structures in the area when it was constructed in 1895, the so-called Thousand Islands mansion was built for Remington typewriters tycoon William O Wyckoff. However, Wyckoff died of a massive heart attack on his first night under its roof. The estate then passed on to his son, who went bankrupt in the 1920s and sold the property to General Electric, which began to demolish and rebuild it as a new plant just before the Second World War halted proceedings. The property, which some might consider to be cursed, is a regular feature on ferry boat tours. Reportedly, the words “Help me” are scrawled on a ceiling of the villa’s top storey. The main house has been in a state of disrepair for almost 70 years, which might account for its low asking price; the dilapidated structure and its 6.2-acre estate will require a significant investment before they are habitable again.
Darby Castle, Bahamas
Asking price: US$39 million (Dh143m)
Built as a palm oil plantation for Englishman Guy Baxter, this 554-acre property on Exuma Cays island boasts neighbours such as David Copperfield and Nicholas Cage. Its spookiness does not come so much from malevolent spirits and suchlike, but rather from rumours that its owner and an unidentified woman who lived with him, were spies. After the Second World War, it was allegedly discovered that Baxter was sheltering German submarines in the island’s warren of caves, according to owner Rick Davis. Some employees also report seeing an elaborate radio and telegraph station in the house, while Baxter himself disappeared in the 1940s, leaving behind no records that he had ever been there.
Sowden or Black Dahlia House, Los Angeles
Asking price: US$4.7 million (Dh17.3m)
Designed by Lloyd Wright (famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s son), this Mayan Revival-style house in bright and sunny Los Angeles is notorious for being the stage for the Black Dahlia murder. Former owner Dr George Hodel was the prime suspect in the brutal killing of Elizabeth Short, whose body was mutilated with the precision of a skilled surgeon of Hodel’s calibre. The doctor’s son and daughter have also publicly spoken out against their “evil and sadistic” father, accusing him of physical violence and worse. The property has been the backdrop for shows such as Ghost Hunters and Paranormal America, and even featured in The Aviator by Martin Scorsese. The 5,600-square-foot property has recently been renovated to include a pool and spa.
Lymphoy House, Scotland
Asking price: US$1.6 million (Dh5.9m)
The lush hills of Currie form the backdrop to this two-storey mansion, while a so-called “Woman in White” is said to occupy its front step. A soldier’s wife was said to have died at the entrance after his parents rejected her, while a second “ghost”, known as the piper, is said to wander about the underground tunnels. The two apparitions, however, did not deter royals such as a Mary Queen of Scots and King James VI from visiting the 16th-century estate. The latter is believed to have used it as his hunting grounds. The haunted property is within stone’s throw of some of the best golf courses in the country, and also has its own paddock and tennis court. The main house has six bedrooms and six reception rooms, some of which include the original cornicing and ornate fireplaces.
West Close Farm, Lancashire
Asking price: £675,000 (Dh3.3 million)
In the 17th century, Pendle Hill and Lancaster Castle in Lancashire were infamous for sentencing women accused of witchcraft to death. A cottage that belonged to two convicted “witches”, Anna “Old Chattox” Whittle and her daughter Anne Redferne, is on the market. The women were executed in 1612 for dabbling in the dark arts, while historians later found the remains of a mummified cat bricked into a wall – although this was a common practice meant to protect a house’s inhabitants. Current owner Wendy Handley, who was aware of the house’s history, has spent about Dh300,000 on its renovation, but she has retained the ancient-looking farmhouse kitchen and a once-hidden stone staircase to add to the cottage’s sense of antiquity. The four-bedroom house is set on three acres, which also have stables and an outbuilding where Handley kept her horses. The story of the executions draws a number of visitors to West Close Farm every Halloween, and the property also featured in a documentary on the Pendle witches trial.