How much do ghost hunters charge? As of 2019, most investigators don’t charge residents who are worried that their home is haunted.
However, many ghost hunting teams do charge businesses – including hotels and restaurants – that want to advertise that they’re haunted.
(If that’s a service you & your team provide, you may be expected to provide them with evidence – audio or video – or a certificate they can display. They may also want quotes or reviews they can use in their advertising.)
Between those two extremes, I think it’s reasonable to expect a client to cover your travel expenses, including meals, especially if you’re investigating overnight.
And, if sleeping accommodations aren’t available at the site, then local lodging – perhaps at a Fairfield Inn or similar hotel – should be offered to investigators.
No investigator should be expected to work late at night, and then drive many miles – especially on an empty stomach – to where he or she lives.
What Ghost Hunters Said
During June 2009, when serious ghost hunting investigations were relatively new – and ghosts were trending in the news – we conducted a poll of our readers. We asked how much they charged when they investigated a private residence.
These were the results:
In 2009, in real-life conversations, most professional ghost hunters agreed with the poll results: They didn’t charge the client anything at all, or – if travel expenses were involved – they asked the client to pay for gas and to arrange lodging.
Investigators who charged over $200 were also very forthcoming. The figure that I heard most often was $350 plus expenses. That increased if the team included more than three people.
Four-figure amounts were not rare when the team included professionals, and six or more experienced investigators.
2019 update: In recent years, this has changed. Most ghost hunting teams do not charge clients to investigate homes. But, teams are more cautious about which locations to investigate.
Ghost hunting seems to be trending again. That may create fresh interest in having professionals investigate a home or business. So, we might see a return to 2009 fee levels.
Supply and Demand?
Client fees and investigation services seem difficult to discuss, even among professionals who otherwise agree on most everything.
Some say, “You get what you pay for.”
Others insist that investigations are an essential part of our research. As such, we shouldn’t charge anything.
I think the poll speaks for itself, to understand the financial side of investigations.
If someone is troubled by an apparent haunting in his or her home, it’s probably easy to find a team – especially amateurs, and those looking to build their portfolio of investigations – that will conduct the research free of charge.
If someone wants to hire a professional team, the fees are likely to be $200+ for that service.
What I Charge
When I investigate private homes – rare, in recent years – I expect the home owner to cover my travel expenses, if I’m traveling more than an hour from home.
If the site is planning to use my research to improve their business (such as a restaurant or hotel that wants to claim they have ghosts), a fee may be involved. It depends on whether I’m intrigued by the location.
A site like the Myrtles Plantation or Tudor World (the Falstaff Experience)…? As long as my expenses are covered, I’m delighted to investigate their latest ghost sightings. My past experiences at both of them were memorable.
At the other extreme, I’ll turn down a site with health risks, such as a building with a recent rat infestation, or asbestos and black mold. Also, I won’t go into dangerous neighborhoods, day or night.
Generally, my fees vary with what they expect from my team and from me. That includes how much time we’ll spend at the site, and whether the site owner wants a certificate, a short video of evidence, testimonials, etc.
(Note: I’m never willing to say that a site is haunted, unless I’ve investigated it, found anomalies, and couldn’t debunk them. No amount of money would be enough to compromise my integrity and reputation.)
When a homeowner is frantic for help, I usually look for ways to reduce or eliminate their costs altogether. I know that – by the time a homeowner or tenant contacts ghost hunters – they may have had medical bills or stress has taken a toll. Usually, they’re not in a financial position to pay professional investigators.
For Ghost Hunting Teams
Carefully consider investigation requests. Especially if a site is old and badly maintained – or if it has (or might have) poltergeist activity – be especially cautious. Also, be sure you’re insured against damages the client may claim.
Remember: Poltergeists rarely respect costly vases, or the personal and replacement value of china that’s been in the family for seven generations.
Get everything in writing, ahead of time. If travel expenses will be covered, make sure you receive them in advance.
Be skeptical. I’m not saying that all victims of haunted houses are exaggerating, but some are, and a few have mental health issues better resolved by health professionals.
In addition, we’ve seen an increase in demonic activity at some sites. So, be very sure the potential client isn’t describing something dangerous.
Ghosts and demons are two different categories. Most ghost hunting teams – including my own – are not skilled demonologists.
If a site might be troubled by demons or malicious entities, refer those clients to a local priest, minister, or skilled (and trusted) demonologist. (I generally refer people to John Zaffis, Pete Haviland, Carl & Keith Johnson, and others I know and trust.)
For Homeowners, Tenants, and Business Owners
No matter who is investigating, I encourage homeowners to check references carefully. Don’t rely on rave reviews by friends of the individual or team.
Some people claim they’ve been ghost hunting for years. Ask them for evidence of their expertise in the field. That means multiple years of experience, as well as professional, no-hype websites, YouTube channels, and so on.
Learn the best – and worst – that’s said about the researchers you’re considering. Then, make an educated decision.
Be Sure the Investigation is Worth the Cost
If you’re a home or business owner, be sure you’re hiring a competent team.
Then, be prepared for the truth. Your site might not be haunted; it may just need repairs.
Also, ghost hunting is not a field where haggling is the norm. If you respect the team enough to want their opinions, be prepared to pay their standard fees.
The best investigators will tell you whether or not they think your site is haunted. They’ll also advise you about what you can (and can’t) do about the ghosts.
If you’re part of an investigation team, be honest about your expertise. Avoid mimicking what you’ve seen on TV.
Your first steps are:
- Listen to the client. Note everything.
- Examine the site during the day, to debunk as much as you can. That includes everything from checking for level floors, bad wiring (elevated EMF), normal drafts, and so on.
- Investigate during the time of day when the site has the most paranormal activity. (That’s not always after dark.)
- Then, return to the site in the daytime, for one final attempt to debunk the phenomena.
- Advise the client what you found, what you didn’t find, what your theories are, and what they can do next.
If you’re not willing to do all that for each client, at a cost you think is fair, it’s best to have an honest conversation with him or her. Perhaps a scaled-back investigation is enough. Or, maybe another team might be better suited for the job.