Ghost Hunters – How Much Do You Charge?

How much do ghost hunters charge? As of 2020, most investigators don’t charge residents who are worried that their home is haunted.

Ghost Hunters - how much do you charge?However, many ghost hunting teams do charge businesses – including hotels and restaurants – that want to advertise that they’re haunted.

(Is that 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. That should include 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 budget 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 – back to his, her, or their home.

What ghost hunters said

During June 2009, I conducted a poll when serious ghost hunting investigations were relatively new, and ghosts were trending in the news. I asked readers how much they charged when they investigated a private residence.

These were the results:

poll-chargesJune2009In 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.

2020 update: In recent years, this has changed. Most ghost hunting teams do not charge anxious 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. So, 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, her, or their home, it’s probably easy to find a team – especially amateurs, and those looking to build their portfolio of investigations – to 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 the site will 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. 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.

(Note: I’ll never say that a site is haunted, unless I’ve investigated it, found anomalies, and couldn’t debunk them.)

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, or they 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, homeowners should check references carefully. Don’t rely on rave reviews by friends of the individual or the 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 researchers you’re considering.

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.

From my experience, about 80% of haunted buildings can be debunked. The usual problems:

Also, ghost hunting is not a field where haggling is the norm. If you respect the team enough to want their opinions, 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.

Investigating? Be honest.

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:

  1. Listen to the client. Note everything.
  2. 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.
  3. Investigate during the time of day when the site has the most paranormal activity. (That’s not always after dark.)
  4. Then, return to the site in the daytime, for one final attempt to debunk the phenomena.
  5. Advise the client what you found, what you didn’t find, what your theories are, and what they can do next.  (Don’t just abandon them if the site seems haunted to you, too.)

If you’re not willing to do all that for each client, and at a cost you think is fair, have an honest conversation with him, her, or them.

Perhaps a scaled-back investigation is enough. Or, maybe another team might be better suited for the job.

14 thoughts on “Ghost Hunters – How Much Do You Charge?”

  1. Nice to read this info. I believe I have a spirit living in my home. I’m the second homeowner. Had the house torn down then doubled in size. I have no idea how it got there. I don’t mind it as it shows it’s/herself to me. I had a “sensitive” from Indian nation. She told me something is in my fireplace, upstairs. That is where I see it, once in a while. I told it, I didn’t mind up here but it’s my house and I’ll give you the area of this fireplace. I hadn’t seen or heard of it in a year except for about a week ago.

    1. How very cool, Lenny! And you did exactly what I’d suggest, too: Making the rules of the house very clear, out loud, and repeating that as necessary. Most ghosts (or spirits of unknown origin) seem fairly respectful if they’re treated accordingly. So, thank you for sharing this information, and congratulations on handling the situation well!

  2. I am wondering about medical costs should someone be injured during the investigation. Do you have any information regarding this?

    1. Angeli, you’d probably need to speak with an attorney who specializes in insurance cases. What follows are my personal thoughts about topics to consider when talking with someone who knows far more about injury issues than I do, and someone who’s actually a professional in that field.

      In most cases, the individual’s health insurance should cover the injury. If it’s a private investigation, or at an event, the homeowner (or site owner) usually has insurance that covers accidents at that location. The individual’s health insurance company would probably go to that second insurance company for reimbursement. The exception is if the investigator signed a waiver, absolving the homeowner of all responsibility, but even that could be in question if the site was clearly negligent.

      On the other hand, if it’s a public site – like a battlefield, or a deserted (but publicly accessed) building – the person (or group) organizing the investigation could be at risk, both for medical expenses and related issues such as loss of work, pain and suffering, and so on. It depends on how formal the team and investigation are organized, if there’s an actual hierarchy, or implied “to be part of this team, you need to attend most investigations.”

      If it’s an informal “hey, let’s all go look at the [location]”, that’s more likely to be considered recreation, and default to the injured individual’s health insurance.

      That’s why I recommend talking with an insurance expert, and carrying insurance if you’re a more-or-less formal team, doing scheduled investigations. You’ll need to consider injuries to your team members, any damages to the site you’re investigating (in case bizarre activity is blamed on you rather than the poltergeist, etc.), and your personal liabilities. Remember, at least one person has died after an informal investigation. I have other articles on this topic, as well. Search using the term “health” to find them.

      I hope that helps. Sincerely, Fiona

  3. Hi! I am currently attending Central Methodist with my roommate and we chose our room for next semester. Recently, we found out that the dormitory we will be living in is quite haunted, especially the 5th floor (where our room is located). We have heard stories of a girl committing suicide in one of the 5th floor rooms, a girl jumping out of one of the windows, several male ghosts in lower floors, and another girl that died during the refurbishing of the hall. Is there any way to prepare to possibly be living in a haunted building? We are very nervous and want to be as prepared as possible!

    1. Hello, Emily, and I’m glad you asked me about this. Many of those are legends I’ve heard at several schools and universities. They almost always include a girl who committed suicide, and there’s usually a mirror tale connected with it.

      Without supporting evidence, take them with a grain of salt. It’s not that beliefs can’t create ghostly phenomena, but if you can debunk the stories’ histories, your disbelief in the legends can counteract the influence of those who do believe the stories.

      The first thing to do is find out if those deaths really happened. Local newspapers would have reported the stories; some may be available online. If the ghosts have names, you can search for related obituaries. The college library may have the newspapers you need, and they may be indexed.

      Ask the college’s librarians. They may tell you if the stories are true, but I wouldn’t count on that. It’s terrible publicity and there could be liability issues for them. So, you could ask, but if they tell you it’s all fiction, continue your research anyway… just in case.

      If any of the stories seem to be fact-based, I’d default to putting a bowl of salt underneath your bed or next to it, or both. And, I’d put a pair of shoes at the foot of the bed, each one turned in the opposite direction (heel-to-toe) from the other. If you’re truly anxious, tape a small mirror inside your dorm room door. The mirror should be facing towards the hallway. (Inside your room, you can cover evidence of it by putting a poster or something over it.)

      All of those are folk remedies, but – weirdly – my readers consistently report positive results with them. (I still believe many folk remedies and beliefs will turn out to be something based in resonance and quantum science. Remember, Galileo faced a Holy Inquisition because he said the Earth travels around the Sun, and not vice versa.) So, I don’t question how these remedies work. Instead, I figure you have nothing to lose and there’s nothing inherently dangerous about them, and – if my readers’ reports are correct – they work.

      If you have questions about researching the history of those ghost stories, let me know.

      And, if you can’t find any supporting evidence, but – after you move into your dorm – encounter anything odd, let me know. I can suggest ghost hunting techniques that may identify (normal) sources of the issue, or – referencing Sherlock Holmes – help you analyze whatever remains, to find the truth.

      Sincerely, Fiona

  4. I currently rent my home, and I have been experiencing paranormal ever since I have lived here. My kids see things as well, how would I go about seeking help?

    1. Allison, if your kids are being frightened by what’s going on, you may need to take extreme measures… like moving. I recommend checking your local laws to see if landlords are required to tell you about “defects” when they rent to you.

      Then, it’s on the landlord to find out what’s causing whatever you’re experiencing. Maybe it’s something normal. Maybe it’s paranormal.

      I’m trying to fast-track updates to my book, Is Your House Haunted? to re-release it and provide the kind of in-depth information you need. Short-term, here’s my 2011 checklist of the most common issues that can seem paranormal… sometimes startlingly so:

      Some things are normal (but weird) and other things… well, that’s when I recommend calling a minister or priest, since you’re dealing with spiritual issues. And, technically, ghosts are spirits.

      You might be able to find a local investigator through the TAPS website, but I’m not sure how thoroughly those investigators are checked for their expertise and so on.

      Start with normal (but weird) explanations, and rule them out. A home handyman can be helpful with this.

  5. How do charge if you had to come all the way to investigate in our home in Las Cruces?

    1. Kina, thanks for asking, but if you need an investigation, I recommend Pete Haviland. He’s in Texas and closer to you, and he’s more likely to travel than I am, right now. (I’m revising my older books, to republish them with updates.)

    1. KP, what you’re describing isn’t ghostly. And I’m appalled that any investigative team would tell you that you could be at risk… and then do nothing to help you. But, the flip side of that is: You need to help yourself. With fewer ghost hunting teams in the field, and many of them ill-equipped to deal with genuine problems, you need to be proactive.

      My advice has been at this site for nearly 10 years. Follow it, please.

  6. My whole family has seen ghost in my home, even friends who have stayed over have seen them. Most of the time they just walk around. When my son was young he was tormented by them. And now my 2 year old granddaughter is being tormented by something, she will scream and cry and point to the closet door, she doesn’t talk much yet so can’t tell us what she is seeing, she hardly Streisand I just don’t know what to do.

    1. Cynthia, what you’re describing doesn’t sound like ghosts. Generally, ghosts don’t torment people, but other kinds of spiritual entities can.
      I recommend speaking with a priest or minister in your community to help isolate the source of the problem.

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