Bewitching homes for beautiful living

WHILE few sane people would relish the idea of cohabiting with a ghost or other supernatural presence, Britain is an old country and has its fair share -- perhaps more than its fair share -- of spooky residences. We have more graveyards than you can shake a stick at, and plenty of people have died in horrible ways, from the plague to burning at the stake and any other religious, fire or disease-related factor you care to mention. Whatever it is that causes a spirit to remain on earth and in its house – even if its just in your jittery winter imagination – there’s no doubt that the British have something of a love-hate affair with spooky properties.

While most people said they could not bring themselves to live in a property they thought was haunted, almost half of people surveyed by Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank said they were more likely to go view a house if it was rumoured to be.

The survey also found that British property buyers are as crafty as they are easily spooked. Apparently half of those surveyed would be tempted to use the presence of a ghost as bargaining tool to reduce the asking price and would back out of a purchase if they discovered it was rumoured to be haunted.

So it turns out there is genuinely a connection between spooky homes and price.

Amazingly, there is legal protection for buyers in America. In New York the Supreme Court ruled that a seller must disclose that a house has the reputation for being haunted if it will affect the buyers ability to sell the house.

It’s not all bad news if you are thinking of buying a haunted house as a tourist attraction or hotel. VisitScotland found that 63 per cent of people were keen to spend their holidays learning about ghostly myths.

And there is hope if you find out about your home’s haunted credentials after you have bought. Charlie Ellingworth, the director of the independent buying agent Property Vision (our expert below) believes his house was haunted. “Well I’m not sure if I believe it, but strange things kept happening. Things kept breaking and there was almost a quite serious fire. It was all quite unexplainable.” Perhaps it was superstition but Ellingworth got his house exorcised. “It sounds odd but nothing has happened since. My wife and I were planning a weekend away and wanted to leave the kids behind. We just couldn’t leave them without doing something.”

Ellingworth says that he and his wife tracked down the priest through a friend. “Understandably enough, priests don’t go around advising this stuff,” he retorts when I foolishly ask if he found the preist online.

On a more serious note, however, Ellingworth explains that Victorian Gothic properties have been out of fashion for some time. “People are far more interested in the clean lines of Georgian homes these days. You might be able to get a slight discount if you have a penchant for the Gothic look.”

And with more and more churches being sold off, there will be a natural increase in the number of grave-side homes – or at least those with spiritual histories that could make you tremble.

Findaproperty.com has a list of all the converted churches available in the UK, which look nice and cheery once they’ve had a lick of paint and the work of a contractor. But scratch beneath the surface and – if you’re lucky – you might just find something a little spookier.

SCARY FACTS

46 per cent of people would be more likely to view a property if they heard the property was haunted

51 per cent of people admitted to being tempted to use the presence of a ghost as a bargaining tool to reduce the asking price

12 per cent of people admitted to being so suspicious that they would be put off buying a home if a black cat crossed their path while viewing a property.

EXPERT VIEW | Charlie Ellingworth, independent buyer

SO FAR, we haven’t had anyone come to us looking for a haunted house, but we are regularly approached for properties with history or interesting character. A lot of the homes we source come off the “grey” market – that is finding properties that sellers do not want to go on to the open market through an estate agent. Don’t panic though, this doesn’t mean the seller is hiding something. Plenty of people with fabulous homes refuse to go through estate agents. Some do this because they want to keep a divorce or troubled financial situation quiet, others want to make sure their family home is passed into loving hands, while others simply don’t want viewers traipsing across their carpets. We are quite blunt with clients when what they are looking for does not exist. So if you are after supernatural experiences I’m afraid we can’t guarantee anything.

For more information call Property Vision on 020 7823 8388 or visit www.propertyvision.co.uk

LEYS CASTLE ESTATE, INVERNESS
Price: On request
A mile away from Inverness, with spectacular views over the city, this impressive old estate would be suitable for an aspiring dark lord. In addition to the eight bedrooms and five reception rooms, there are also three temporary houses and ten cottages, suitable for housing the minions.
Contact: Knight Frank,
0131 222 9600, edinburgh@knightfrank.com

THE REFECTORY, WEST SUSSEX
Price: £950,000
On the edge of East Grinstead, this Grade I-listed ex-chapel was once part of an attached convent.
Featuring a pulpit, a private cloister and a seperate wine store, this slightly spooky old property has also been updated with a communal swimming pool and tennis courts.
Contact: Chesterton Humberts, 01342 326 326, eastgrinstead@chestertonhumberts.com

LOWER THORNE BARN, KENT
Price: £700,000
Located in?Pluckley, reportedly the most haunted village in England, this stylish converted barn is set in half an acre of its own land.
Featuring five bedrooms, four bathrooms and two reception rooms, this is a sleek option for anyone with a taste for the haunted life.
Contact: Geering & Colyer on 01233 661097, countryhomes@
geeringandcolyer.com