With Halloween just around the corner, horror movie aficionados are busy decorating, buying costumes and decking their halls with cobwebs, grinning lanterns and scattered bones. It’s one thing to have the scariest looking place on the block, but what about owning the real deal? New York has its share of true-life haunted houses. If you are the type to live out your Halloween fantasy, or if you’d just like to know where to avoid, here are some homes that host malevolent ghosts.
Of course one of the most famous New York properties known for its ghoulish history is 112 Ocean Ave, Amityville, NY. The events that transpired in this house of horrors set the stage for the notorious $80 million Amityville Horror movie franchise. Even Eminem has a song about the infamous residence. This attention is not surprising. The story behind it is spine chilling. In 1974, Butch DeFeo and his sister Dawn murdered their mother, father, and two brothers, before brother turned on sister and was jailed for the crimes. It was a grisly travesty, which is said to have summoned demonic possession of the house. Subsequent owners, the Lutz family, bought the house 13 months later for what they thought was a deal, at $80,000. Their luck soon turned when they began to experience what they claimed were otherworldly horrors, such as voices screaming out, chills, green slime on the walls, mysterious odors, swarms of flies in the rooms, and the supernatural possession of their family by evil spirits. A priest was called in to exorcise the demons. But after 28 days, they fled. The Lutz’s ghost stories sold ten million paperbacks, but haven’t helped the property value much. Even after changing house numbers, in May 2010, the house on 108 Ocean Ave, Amityville, N.Y. sat on the market for 70 days before being sold for $950,000, a fraction of its asking price. Interestingly enough, hundreds of curious onlookers came out to see the house on moving day.
For $1.3 million, you can buy yourself one of the most eerie haunted mansions in Staten Island. The property was the last remaining remnant of a tragic immigrant brick empire when developer Isaac Yomtovian bought it for $1.4 million, twelve years ago. The original Kreischer family fell victim to fires, tragic deaths, infidelity and even murder before they faded, almost, from memory. An immigrant himself, Yomtovian sought to rebuild the once storied history of the family who owned it by carrying out beautiful restorations, which cost him two years of his life and nearly $1 million. But as soon as he had salvaged the home from its former darkness, a new horror loomed. A caretaker for the mansion, Joseph “Joe Black” Young murdered a man on the property, and the place has been thought of as haunted ever since. Despite the financial damage, the home has gained some notoriety of another kind. The pilot of Boardwalk Empire was filmed there.
There is a certain fascination with haunted houses that has held the test of time. People still get spooked at the idea of ghosts in their home. The mere mention of spirits can be enough to deter buyers, just as the number 13 does not appear in most elevators. However, when buying luxury homes in Manhattan, sometimes this shroud of gloom is tucked away from the public, or more likely, the foreign investor, only to be discovered once the home has been sold.
It’s a classic case of buyer beware. Sometimes the true value of a property is more sinister than the culmination of location, square footage and number of rooms. It pays to have in-depth local knowledge when buying luxury homes in Manhattan, New York or elsewhere. Digging deeper than the unbelievable price may just unearth a few graves.