This infamous hotel is one of New York City’s spookiest landmarks. Built in 1884, the hotel was home to many notable writers, artists, and musicians. Even though many of these former occupants have since died, visitors claim to have seen the ghosts of Dylan Thomas, Eugene O’Neill, and Thomas Wolfe.
The Winchester Mystery House is a 160-room mansion full to the brim with eerie architectural features. Secret passageways, labyrinths of hallways, and a séance room , the house is said to have been built just for ghosts.
The Amityville House
In 1974, members of the DeFeo family were found murdered in this home; the eldest son was later convicted of murdering his parents and siblings. A year later, a new family moved in but quickly moved out after reports of paranormal activity: strange odors, cold drafts, and ghosts of wild animals.
The Cassadaga Hotel
The Cassadaga sits at the center of the spooky little town of Cassadaga, which is home to many mediums and psychics. The hotel, which is said to house a number of spirits, also features a powerful vortex of energy that even skeptics have admitted to sensing.
The White House
For years there have been reports that the White House is indeed haunted. Visitors, staff, and even residents have seen the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams, and Andrew Jackson. FDR, President Eisenhower, and Winston Churchill are among those who claim to have seen ghosts. Most recently, the Obama family claim to have repeatedly heard strange noises and felt a sensation of someone gnawing at their feet in the middle of the night!
The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville is one of the creepiest places in the South, where dozens of deaths have occurred since 1797. Visitors claim to have witnessed many strange occurrences: disappearing jewelry; furniture that moves at its own will; a grand piano that plays itself; strange handprints; and objects and people appearing and disappearing from photographs.
The Joshua Ward House
The Joshua Ward House was built in 1784 and originally owned by George Corwin, the High Sheriff during the Salem Witch Trials. For many years, Corwin’s remains were buried in the basement until finally being moved to a cemetery. Rumor has it that Corwin’s spirit still haunts the house.
The LaLaurie House
Housed in the French Quarter, this home was originally owned by the LaLaurie family, who treated their slaves brutally. The house has been haunted by screams of agony coming from the ghosts of those tortured ever since.
Built in 1865, the castle makes a spooky first impression with its sandstone exterior, round tower, and gargoyles. Those who have been inside the mansion claim to have witnessed an eerie woman in black staring out the tower women, small children crying, and strange happenings like doors flying off hinges and spinning lights.
The Whaley House
San Diego’s Whaley house was designated an official Haunted House by the US Department of Commerce due to frequently heard footsteps of the ghost of “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was hung on the site before the house was built. Other ghostly sightings have been reported.
The Lemp Mansion
Built in St. Louis in the 1860s, this house was inhabited by the Lemp family, who were wealthy brewers with a streak for suicide. Named one of America’s most haunted houses by Life magazine, the mansion is currently a restaurant and inn.
Villisca Ax Murder House
On June 12, 1912 all six members of the Moore family and two young houseguests were found murdered by an ax. The murderer was never found, but the house in Villisca still boasts wandering spirits, children’s crying, and a door that mysteriously opens and closes.
The limestone ruins look ancient, like something abandoned by its residents hundreds of years ago along a misty loch in Scotland.
The property, however, is not across the Atlantic but in upstate New York, most fittingly located in the town of New Scotland. The ruins are not as ancient, either. The home was built in 1935 by the reclusive Bouck White, a potter and Socialist activist.
Located on 4.5 acres, the property also includes a contemporary 2,500-square-foot home, but the ruins of an old castle, a pottery studio and various other outbuildings are the most intriguing selling points.
The property is available as a short sale, and listing agent Brian Bosen doesn’t mince words about the type of work it requires, saying the buyer will need to be someone “with a vision and sense of adventure.”
As the housing market continues to recover, a bevy of interesting trends have been emerging in the sector, affecting everything from buyer and seller behavior to design and everything in between.
Try before you buy
Want to spend quality time in the home you’re interested in buying? Perhaps spend the night and check things out before putting a single penny down? Real estate agents are now letting some qualified, serious buyers do just that! And this unusual strategy, which can ultimately help buyers make an informed decision, is catching on in markets across the country.
Dogs are people, too
Builders aren’t just turning to upgrades and financial carrots to help offset rising buying costs. They’re also getting more creative with the “extras” by taking pet friendly to a new level. In fact, some high-end apartment buildings offer pet food-centered room service menus, and in New York City, MiMA development’s Dog City will even walk, groom and arrange play dates for residents’ dogs.
While you likely know that screened porches and outdoor living rooms continue to interest homeowners, you may not realize that master bedroom closets designed with a coveted, boutique-like feel — think illuminated rods, compartmentalized storage, shoe walls, vanity areas and other focal points — are also becoming a virtual must-have, according to architects and high-end home builders.
Unlike a regular seller who lists their home with a local real estate agent, homebuilders often have their own employees working for them on site. They do this to have more control and to cut costs.
What does this mean for you, a buyer? Mostly, it may mean the home builder isn’t a member of the local MLS. As a result, the homes may not show up in your agent’s MLS search. The builder may be more apt to advertise online, in the paper or with billboards. So if you’re interested in newly built homes, work with your agent to make sure you’ve identified all the possibilities. (Note: Zillow has listings for new construction homes. Just choose “New Homes” in the search filter.)
2. New homes are often sold before they’re built.
A builder will generally get financing lined up and map out both a construction and a sales process. This means they’ll try to sell as many homes as possible, before they’re even built. To accomplish this, they’ll build out model homes and allow buyers to go in and review floor plans, fixtures and finishes while the homes are under construction. Depending on the state, builders need to get through some of the approvals process before they can actually start signing contracts.
For the most part, you can get a sense of what your new home would look and feel like and where it will be located in the community. Ready to move forward? You’ll likely have to put down a deposit, from a few thousand dollars to 10 percent of the purchase price.
Be aware that even if there are 100 homes in the community, they won’t all be available at once. Home builders tend to release the homes in phases. If the first 10 homes sell quickly at the asking price, and the market continues to do well, the builder can raise the prices on the second or third phase. Also, the sales cycle for a new community can take years. The last phase could end up being priced 10 percent or more than phase one, simply because the real estate market has appreciated.
3. The first buyers may get the best discounts.
A home builder, especially early in the sales process, wants to get a few homes under contract quickly. If the builder can announce they have 10 homes under contract in a few weeks, the project can seem more desirable to future buyers.
Also, builders like to go back to their lenders with positive news about the project and their investment. To do this, they need early buyers to sign contracts.
For buyers, this means there could be room to negotiate the price down early in the sales process. But with the reward, there is potential risk. By being an early buyer, you’re committed to the project. If for some reason sales don’t manifest or you don’t want to move ahead before the home is built, you risk losing your down payment. For example, right after the housing downtown, some buyers were stuck under contract on new homes where sales had stalled.
4. Builders don’t have a personal or emotional attachment to the house.
A typical seller has lived in the home for many years, raised their family or built memories there. So when it’s time to sell, the seller may experience all kinds of issues, questions and uncertainties, which can come out in the negotiation and purchase process. As a consequence, the seller may unconsciously price the home too high because they’re not ready to emotionally detach from it. They may want to know more about you or what your plans are for the property. If given a choice between two buyers, the seller may pick one over the other for non-financial reasons.
With a home builder, it’s just a numbers game. They’re focused more on spreadsheets than sentiment. They want to make sure you’re qualified and can get a loan. They set the prices based on their inventory, though there may be a little room for negotiations.
5. Discounts may be available in the form of upgrades.
Is the project you’re interested in nearing the end of its sales cycle, with many homes already sold? If so, the builder may be a little more willing to negotiate with you, not so much on price but on upgrades. If they reduce the price on your home and the sale closes, then that sale price becomes public record. But if they offered you an upgrade package (hardwood floors instead of carpet or higher-end appliances), there isn’t any way to track that. What could amount to thousands of dollars in upgrades could end up being a better deal than simply getting a price reduction.
For many first-time buyers, new construction could be a great idea. If you’re used to renting and relying on the landlord for mechanical fixes and general maintenance, you can almost be assured that your first few years in a new home will be maintenance-free.