Americans are split on buying a house where the prior owners were murdered

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
March 04, 2022, 7:47 PM GMT+0

Would Americans buy a home where the previous owners were murdered, if it otherwise met their needs? According to a YouGov poll conducted last month, about as many would as wouldn’t. Americans who believe in the supernatural are less prepared to make a down payment, but there’s also plenty of wariness among those who don’t believe in ghosts and demons.

Nearly two in five Americans say they believe that ghosts (36%), demons (37%), and psychics (37%) exist. Less than half of Americans say each one doesn’t exist. Far fewer believe in the existence of vampires (7%) and werewolves (7%); more than 80% of Americans say vampires and werewolves do not exist. (The findings are consistent with other recent YouGov polling on the supernatural.)

Some groups are more credulous when it comes to the supernatural than others. For example, women are significantly more likely than men to believe in ghosts (44% of women believe vs. 28% of men), demons (41% vs. 32%), and psychics (46% vs 28%).

A recent Washington Post story examined how violent crimes or “alleged hauntings” can affect interest in real estate. The article cites the National Association of Realtors, which says that “violent crimes tend to have a strong negative impact on property values.”

We asked Americans whether they would be willing to buy a house that was within their price range and met their other requirements if they learned that the previous homeowners had been murdered in it. Three in 10 Americans say they would buy the house anyways, while a similar proportion, 32%, say they would not; 38% were unsure or preferred not to say.

Is one’s willingness to buy a house with a violent past linked to belief in the supernatural? Our findings suggest yes, to some extent. We find that people who report believing in ghosts, demons, and psychics are more likely than those who don’t believe to say they’d be unwilling to buy a house in which murders had occurred. However, a significant share of Americans who don’t believe in each of these entities also say they would be unwilling to buy such a house, suggesting other factors may be at play.

See crosstabs and toplines for this poll.

Methodology: This U.S. News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between February 22 and February 26, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the entire sample.

Image: Getty

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