PETALING JAYA: Property agents sometimes have to deal with properties that are hard to push either because it is located in a less than savoury neighbourhood or perhaps, been left in a dilapidated state.
But in some cases, the problems of a piece of property may be less physical and more supernatural.
In many cultures, it is quite common for properties that have been the site of unnatural deaths to lose much of their appeal as the area is now considered haunted or even cursed.
Many neighbourhoods in Malaysia have their own stories about haunted houses which have sat vacant for years, even if they have many appealing features.
Sometimes, these properties carry tales about buyers who allegedly stayed there fleetingly before fleeing in a panic, no thanks to purportedly supernatural occurrences causing things to literally go bump in the night.
Speaking to FMT, real estate expert Ernest Cheong related a somewhat spooky tale of a detached house in Overseas Union Garden, Kuala Lumpur.
According to him, the house, which was located a few roads from his own, had a pattern of only being occupied for short periods of time, before the occupants would leave in a hurry.
“There were rumours the detached house was haunted. Stories of the lights in the house being switched on and off and strange noises at night that sounded like crockery being broken and furniture being moved around were told.”
Apparently, the hauntings halted only when a religious group occupied the house and told the spirits that they were no longer welcome there.
Whether or not one personally believes in ghosts, Cheong said, there are others who do and this fear of the supernatural can indeed affect their purchase decisions.
Buying a haunted property might at first seem to be a boon as they are often sold below market price, but in turn, you will find it difficult to sell it off as few would dare to buy a cursed property.
Hence, before buying a property, it is important to do one’s research behind its history.
Cheong also says it is advisable to ask the property agent or seller what he calls the Million Dollar Question, “Is the property haunted?”
Given the fact that telling a potential buyer that the property does indeed have a history of unexplained occurrences is likely to scare them away, property agents might be reluctant to mention it.
“’Buyer’s Beware’. You buy at your own risk is what they will say,” said Cheong.
However, by legal and ethical right, property agents actually bear some responsibility and liability if you end up dealing with supernatural beings residing with you.
Cheong brought up the legal case of Donoghue v Stevenson 1932 which established the concept of Duty of Care.
In that court case, the appellant claimed to have fallen ill after drinking a bottle of beer, contaminated by a dead snail, produced by the defendant.
The court ruled in favour of the appellant, stating that product manufacturers and service providers bear responsibility for any damage caused to others by their product or service.
At first, this damage only applied when it was physical, but would later be expanded to include financial losses after the court case of Hedley Bryne v Heller.
The local Malaysian case of Nepline Sdn Bhd v Jones Lang would further cement the responsibility and liability of real estate agents in the event they fail to disclose details of properties they are selling to clients.
Hence, if you are a property agent attempting to sell a house said to be haunted, it is your duty to inform a potential buyer of its status.
Failing to do so may land you in hot water if said buyer ends up being chased out of the house by an unhappy poltergeist unwilling to share its home with them.