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How to live with a ghost

Special for Infobae of New York Times.

On an ordinary afternoon, Shane Booth, a photography professor living in Benson, North Carolina, was folding laundry in his bedroom when he was startled by a loud crash. He went outside to find a smashed window in the front of his house and his dog sitting outside. He was confused, how could his dog jump through the window with enough force to break it?

Booth narrated that after collecting the crystals, he returned to his room and all the clothes he had just folded were scattered and scattered. “That’s when I thought what happened was pretty scary,” Booth, 45, said.

In an interview, Booth described other unexplained and creepy encounters that have led him to believe his century-old home is haunted. Pictures that he had hung on the wall and that he later discovered sat perfectly on the floor, with no broken frames to indicate a fall. He noticed that the vases were suddenly in different places, he had fleeting visions of a ghost (an old man) and heard thunderous laughter when no one else was in the house. “There are a lot of little things that happen sporadically that can’t be explained,” he said.

Many Americans believe that their home is inhabited by someone or something that is not living. An October study by Utah-based home security firm Vivint found that nearly half of 1,000 homeowners surveyed believed their home was haunted. Another survey of 1,000 people conducted by Real Estate Witch, an education platform for home buyers and sellers, found similar results, with 44 percent of respondents saying they had lived in a haunted house.

Researchers attribute the rise in belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, declining religious affiliation, and the pandemic. With so many people believing they live with ghosts, a new question arises: How you live together with the ghosts? Are there ways to feel comfortable with them or are there certain things not to do so as not to upset them?

Booth’s house was originally built as a Baptist church in 1891, she discovered by researching online. Religious ties made him think that perhaps the supernatural events could be due to the fact that he was homosexual, and the spirits did not see him favorably. As terrifying as these experiences are, Booth has already made his peace with them.

“I love this house, I’ve made it my space and I don’t want to let anything run away from me,” Booth said. “When something happens, I talk to him and say: ‘Let’s see, take it easy'”.

unexpected companions

Although cohabiting with a spirit can be a terrifying experience, some people enjoy it, or at least have learned to live with it.

“I’m not opposed to some disturbing happenings,” said Brandy Fleischer, 28, who lives in a 19th-century house in Genoa City, Wisconsin. Ella Fleischer said that she believes the house is haunted and that one of the ghosts is named Henry. She explained that she found out by placing a pendulum over a letter board and asking the spirit to spell her name. “He likes to make jokes. Change the shoes of place, ”she narrated.

However, Fleischer wasn’t always so comfortable with ghosts. “The first time I walked through the door, I felt like I had just arrived at a party that she wasn’t invited to. I felt like everyone was looking at me,” she said, “but I couldn’t see them.”

He compared living with ghosts to having roommates…only they didn’t apply. Fleischer was able to get an idea of ​​what he must avoid in order to live in harmony with Henry. In particular, he gets annoyed when people in the house are arguing, he explained. “Henry slammed a drawer to break up an argument,” he recounted.

haunted houses for sale

For sellers, paranormal rumors have also been a good selling strategy. Earlier this year, the three-bedroom Rhode Island home that inspired the horror movie “The Conjuring” sold well above its asking price for $1.525 million. In 2021, a Massachusetts estate that was the site of the infamous Borden family murders sold for $1.875 million with no events required to show the house. Dozens of listings on Airbnb also advertise ghostly experiences, such as a “haunted second-floor oasis” or a “ghost lair.”

“Embracing a house’s haunted history can be a chilling sales pitch in the race to go viral,” said Amanda Pendleton, home trends expert at Zillow. “Unique homes captured the imagination of those browsing Zillow’s website during the pandemic: the more unusual an ad, the more page views it can generate.”

Sharon Hill, author of the 2017 book “Scientific Americans: The Culture of Amateur Paranormal Researchers,” added that “many people are no longer afraid of ghosts because the media has gotten us used to them.”

Haunted houses can also be “a way of connecting with the past or with a sense of haunting in the everyday world,” Hill said. “We have the feeling of wanting to find out for ourselves and of being able to feel that there is something beyond death. Knowing that ghosts exist would be very comforting to some people.”

Still, most sellers and agents are hesitant to adopt such a strategy. Of the more than 760,000 properties on Zillow in the last two weeks, only two listings had descriptions that suggested the house might be haunted, according to data provided by this company. One property is a six-bedroom hotel in Wisconsin where the description claims to have recently been the subject of an investigation by a group of Minnesota ghost hunters. The other, a dilapidated three-bedroom hotel in Texas built in 1910, says: “If your dream has been to own a haunted Air BNB look no further. The owner has had ghost hunters come to the house twice overnight.”

Most states do not mention paranormal activity in real estate disclosure laws, but New York and New Jersey have explicit requirements. In New Jersey, sellers, if asked, must disclose known information about any possible poltergeist phenomena. In New York, a court can rescind a sale if the seller has built up a reputation that the house is haunted and takes advantage of a buyer’s ignorance of that detail.

‘Search for meaning’

There are generational differences in who believes in ghosts. In the Vivint survey, 65 percent of Gen Z (defined as people born between 1997 and 2012) who participated in the survey thought their house was haunted, while 35 percent of baby boomers respondents (people born between 1946 and 1964) thought the same.

“With so much conversation on TikTok about true crime, podcasts about haunted things, and documentaries about crime, we think that might be spreading this trend among younger people,” said Maddie Weirman, one of the researchers for the Vivint survey.

Gen Z “might be looking for meaning in new places,” Hill explained. “If the modern world in which they live does not provide them with food for the soul, if capitalism is a system that robs us of personal enlightenment, it is not difficult to deduce that the youngest will look elsewhere and find the idea of ​​a alternative world (of ghosts, aliens, cryptids, among others) that they find attractive to explore”.

The pandemic also influenced society’s relationship with houses and ghosts.

The awareness of death in our culture increased and triggered the desire for proof of life after death for some people. “Think of all the sudden deaths that have occurred during COVID-19, which were often not mourned enough. Many times, people lost their loved ones with no last contact or funeral,” said Tok Thompson, a folklorist and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California.

Quarantine and remote work meant spending more time at home, which meant more time to notice strange noises or movements. Some paranormal investigators reported an increase in calls related to haunting phenomena.

“Usually, people weren’t home all the time to notice the normal noises when it gets hot from the sun during the day and then cools down in the evening. Since everyone was inside, there was even less noise outside to drown out the usual sounds,” Hill, the author, concluded.

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