These were the results:
Among those who’ve talked with me about how much they charge, most echo the poll results. They don’t charge the client anything at all, or — if travel expenses are involved — they ask the client to pay for gas and to arrange lodging.
Those who charge over $200 were also very forthcoming. The figure that I’ve heard most often is $350 plus expenses. That can increase if the team is large. Four-figure amounts are not rare, when the team includes professionals or six or more people.
2017 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.
This is a topic that’s 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, and must be financed however the individual (or team) covers other expenses related to this work.
I think the poll speaks for itself, in understanding 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 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.
When I investigate private homes — rare, in recent years — my travel expenses are covered 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.
When a homeowner is frantic for help, I usually look for ways to reduce or eliminate their costs altogether.
FOR GHOST HUNTING TEAMS
As of 2017, consider carefully before offering to investigate a stranger’s home. Be sure you carry insurance for any damages they may claim.
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. If they are, refer them 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 AND TENANTS
No matter who is investigating, I encourage homeowners to check references carefully, and not just the rave reviews by friends of the individual or team.
A lot of people claim they’ve been ghost hunting for years. Ask them for real proof… a website from before 2004, or a series of books they’ve written, etc. (Anyone can write and publish one or two books. Five or six books…? That’s more likely to indicate competence.)
Learn the best — and worst — that’s said about the researchers you’re considering. Then, make an educated decision.