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Friendly Ghosts Raise Home Prices

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Alexandra Chauran, a 32-year-old fortune teller in Issaquah, Wash., bought a home there with her husband in December 2011. But she hardly blinked at the $350,000 asking price when she discovered the house was haunted.

A possessed property -- perhaps a deal-breaker to some -- actually allows a seller to command a premium on the real estate market when the buyer is an enthusiast of the occult like Chauran. It's hard for experts to put a finger on the exact value a ghost adds, but that intangible factor can clinch a deal.

Chauran and her husband met the previous owner of the four-bedroom, three-bath home who explained how the spirit of a boy who died on the property still lingers. That's when the Chaurans decided they had to make this their home and brought their two young children in tow when they signed on the dotted line.

"The story just increased our enthusiasm for the sale," Chauran said. "It was just a quirk that I found awesome."

In fact, by and large, a ghost, as long as it's friendly, will not scare buyers away. In its "Haunted Housing Report." Move, Inc.'s Realtor.com found that a home's spooky history will not deter most from making the purchase.

"Survey data reveals that while the majority of consumers are open to purchasing a haunted home, many buyers conduct their own research on a home's history to be aware of any weird incidences," said Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications for Move.

Even Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer bought a spooky Palo Alto funeral home, the erstwhile mortuary Rolle & Hapgood & Tinney.

Still, there are certain thresholds even the most adventurous buyers have -- many balk at the purchase if there are tales of levitating objects -- 62% at least might consider the possibility of buying a haunted house.

In 1994 Alexandra Holzer and her husband bought a five-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath colonial in Chester, New York for $140,000. Given that Holzer is the daughter of pioneering ghost hunter Dr. Hans Holzer -- perhaps best known for adopting "possession theory " for the Amityville house of horrors -- she was glad to discover that her house was haunted.

Located on land next to the defunct institution Camp LaGuardia and off the Heritage Trail where Civil War troops marched, the house offers no shortage of appearances from the ghosts of escaped mental patients and soldiers.

Holzer explained that the cachet haunted houses have now may be augmented by shows like the Syfy channel's "Ghost Hunters" or the popularization the paranormal in series like "Twilight."

"I think today with pop culture and the way we see it in films and on TV when we see ghost hunting, I think it's interesting when we go and we hear a purported haunted house is for sale," Holzer said. "You might have the buyer interested enough to say, 'I'm just gonna buy it, because I want to live in a haunted house.' That wouldn't be happening 15, 20 years ago."