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Who You Gonna Call?


Well, this weekend marks a very important day in history…the release of Ghostbusters!! It is a remake of the 1984 original (which I still remember to this day), but with Girl Power this time around.  I do not want to spoil the movie, but the ladies are trying to save New York City from ghosts.  I have not seen it yet, but wonder if the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man has a cameo?? He was my favorite part in the original.

Anyway, while I have been waiting for the movie to come out, it makes me think about a question that seems to have come up a lot over the past year.  Does a seller have to disclose if someone passed away in the home? We are not talking about ghosts in the home, even though that could be an issue, just if someone passed away.  The answer will depend on what state the seller’s home is located.  Each state has a different ruling, but a past case in New York (go figure) has given the best guidance.

The case of Stambovsky v. Ackley in New York, along the Hudson River, belonged to Helen Ackley.  Ms. Ackley was very proud of the fact she had a haunted house.  She and other family members would share stories of regular encounter with ghosts in the home.  In 1977 and 1989 Ms. Ackley even reported the “house guests” to the local papers and Reader’s Digest.  There were reports of items moving, beds shaking and other odd encounters.

When it came time for Ms. Ackley to sell the home, neither she nor her listing agent mentioned the ghosts to buyer, Mr. Stambovsky.   Stambovsky was not from the area and did not know about his future “house guests” that came with the property.  Once he learned of the history of the home, before closing, he sued Ms. Ackley to be released from the contract.  And so began the court case nicknamed the Ghostbusters Ruling.  The first court found that Ackley had disclosed the information about the house in several publications and was not at fault for not disclosing in the contract.  Stambovsky did not like the ruling and took it up on appeals.  The ruling on from the appeals court was “having reported [the ghosts’] presence in both a national publication… and the local press… defendant is estopped to deny their existence and, as a matter of law, the house is haunted.” YES, that’s right; a court ruled that the home on the Hudson River was actually haunted! Now you see why it was nicknamed the Ghostbusters Ruling.  Mr. Stambovsky was released from the contract and Ms. Ackley had a lot of new interest from the paranormal community.

So, what does all this mean for you as a realtor?  Well, it still depends on what state the home is in, but it did open up the rule of having to disclose a home that could be “psychological impacted.” Which means, if a home has anything wrong that could cause a buyer “psychological” issues, it needs to be disclosed.


Gotta Tip: Next time you are asked to list a home that is haunted…Who You Gonna Call?


Meier, E. (2015). The house that was declared legally haunted by New York Supreme Court. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from

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