One of the most fun aspects of real estate investment is exploring interesting properties in new areas. Even when you’re attuned to the financial aspects of the transaction, it’s hard to ignore the other visual elements like the architectural design, landscaping and interior aesthetics.
Sometimes houses are more than what they seem at first glance, though. In some cases, their histories are downright spooky. In honor of Halloween, we’re going to explore the 10 scariest homes in America and show you why it’s always worth learning as much as possible about a property before you make a purchase.
1. The Exorcist House
Did you know that the 1973 movie The Exorcist was inspired by real-life events? In the 1940s, people around the country were captivated when they heard the story of a young boy who was reportedly possessed by demons. These events all took place at the boy’s home, a small three-bedroom house in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Fortunately, the current homeowners report no otherworldly incidents in their new home.
2. LaLaurie Mansion
New Orleans is a city well known for its embrace of the ethereal, leading to the ongoing popularity of ‘ghost tours’ throughout the city. One stop that’s on every tour is the LaLaurie Mansion, a large neoclassical home in the French Quarter with a history of paranormal activity. The home was once owned by Madame LaLaurie, a woman who was infamous for her horrific torture of slaves. Since her death, people have heard moaning and footsteps, and some have even reported being bruised and scratched.
3. The Winchester Mystery House
Located in San Jose, California, the Winchester Mystery House was once owned by Sarah Winchester, the daughter of William Wirt Winchester, the renowned inventor of the Winchester rifle. Construction began in 1886 and since then, there are rumors that it's haunted by the ghosts of all those who were killed by the family's firearms.
4. The Lizzie Borden House
Many people believe that Lizzie Borden is America’s most famous murderer. In 1892, she was accused of killing both her father and stepmother with a hatchet, hitting them so many times that they were almost unrecognizable. The events took place at the Borden family home in Fall River, Massachusetts, and the building still stands today.
5. The House of Death
This grotesquely named house in New York City may look like an unassuming brownstone, but legend has it that anyone who has lived in the house since the late 1800s experiences inexplicable bad luck. Mark Twain even lived there for a few years, and many people since have said that they’ve seen his ghost, along with the ghost of a woman, a girl and a gray cat.
6. The Villisca Axe Murder House
This simple white frame house in Villisca, Iowa, is the site of the gory Villisca axe murders — an unsolved case from 1912 where eight people were bludgeoned to death by an axe. Since then, paranormal investigators have reported hearing children’s voices and seeing falling ladders and flying objects.
7. The Sallie House
This haunted house in Atchison, Kansas, was once owned by a doctor who performed surgeries at the residence. One day, he attempted to treat a young girl named Sallie for appendicitis only to have her die on the operating table. To this day, men entering the house have felt mysterious coldness, and some have reported being scratched. Women can generally walk through unharmed.
8. The Biltmore Estate
This stunning museum and mansion in Asheville, North Carolina, was built in 1895 for the eminent Vanderbilt family and remains the largest privately-owned house in the United States. While it’s a gorgeous property to visit simply for its beauty, many visitors are drawn by its history of paranormal activity. Some people say that they can hear a woman’s voice whispering “George” and have also reported hearing laughter and footsteps. Some even claim to have seen the ghost of a headless orange cat.
9. Whaley House
Many people say Whaley House was destined to be haunted. In 1855, it was constructed on the site of a public execution ground in Old Town San Diego. Owner Thomas Whaley moved his family in, only to have his 18-month-old son die of scarlet fever soon after. Later, another of Whaley’s children shot herself in the home. Since then, people have noticed strange smells, heard the sound of a baby’s laughter, and have even seen the ghost of Whaley’s daughter Violet, Whaley himself, and other men who were killed on the land before the home was even built.
10. Franklin Castle
This imposing house, located in Cleveland, is where at least six members of the Tiedemann family died under mysterious circumstances in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, people visiting the home report hearing slamming doors and footsteps, and notice that objects they put down are never in the same place they were left.
As these houses show you, it's always good to do a little historical research before you buy your next investment property!