31: Haunted Houses
In one of the bedrooms, every time I painted one section of the wall, something was bleeding through the paint in the shape of a face.
About This Episode
During Halloween, it's impossible to escape haunted houses and the allure of horror. In this episode we discuss the beginnings of the trope of the haunted home, and why it's such an enduring story. We also feature haunted house stories shared by you, our listeners.
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JON: You’re home alone and hear a creak, like that of a footstep walking on an old floorboard. Suddenly you’re on edge, your mind racing with the death scenes of a thousand horror movies. Your home is supposed to be where you can relax, find peace, and feel safe, but our imaginations have been conditioned to also jump to the worst case scenario whenever unexplained sounds occur around us.
JON: During Halloween season each year, haunted houses appear around the country. They promise scares, grisly scenes, and inevitably long lines, and they’re a huge business. Halloween in general is enormously profitable: in 2019 adults are expected to shell out $8.8 billion on the holiday, making it second only to Christmas for spending.
JON: There are plenty of reasons why we like being scared, and why modern-day America has a whole month dedicated to horror, and haunted houses are a great place to start. Chances are that you’ve encountered a house or two with a feeling that you just can’t explain, and as much as you’d like to say it’s all in your head, you’re just not sure that’s true.
JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha, and on this episode we share a few stories sent in by you our listeners. They contain murders, ghosts, and unexplainable bumps in the dark of night.
JON: Our first story comes from Lisa Piche in New Mexico, and it’s read by Gideon Slife, our Graphic Design Specialist.
GIDEON: A neighbor reached out to me, explained that their mother had to be put into the nursing home because she was claiming to be seeing her deceased husband and just wasn't healthy. She told me how much they wanted for the home and explained that a developer was interested in buying it, but the family really didn't want it developed. His intent was to plot it and build several homes there. This just didn't sound like something we wanted to have in our backyard. Our yard and home would have overlooked a development instead of 30 vacant acres. My husband and I discussed the situation, offered what the sellers wanted for it and closed as urgently as they had wanted. We shared that our intent was to split off the home portion and keep the remaining adjacent acres well alone in the home. As I was refinishing the floors and painting the rooms, I would always hear sounds of someone's presence. Sometimes the door would sound as though it opened and close to the basement and one of the bedrooms, every time I painted one section, the wall, something was bleeding through the paint and looked like the shape of a face. I put the Kilz product on it and tried everything, including dozens of coats of paint and finally at an aha moment and called to the sellers' daughter. She had shared with me that her mother always saw her husband's face on the wall in her bedroom, asked which bedroom was her mother's. It was the bedroom with a face. I shared what was happening with the paint as well as the sounds, the home. She said her father was often in and out of the home throughout the day. I when to go to the basement to work on things. The location of the face was in her mother's bedroom in the exact location she talked to and saw her husband.
GIDEON: The home didn't sell right away and we had to request to rent it to Psalm. We knew we did that they were very strong in their faith and one day called me asking me to come over to visit. They shared that every time the contractor husband came home from work as he backed his trailer into the garage, he could see in his rear mirror a man wearing denim coveralls guiding him with direction. If you looked out the rear window, he saw nothing. They also indicated the stage bedroom with a picture on the wall, no matter how much they straighten it and they come back in the room and it's crooked and gives them an odd feeling. The renter told me that her child in the room often says the picture talks in the night. Of course I called the daughter and asked more about her father. She shared that he was wearing coveralls when he took his life at the home, pun speaking with someone of great spiritual faith that exactly what I was instructed within the property, the tobacco I was told to leave as a gift of appreciation for leaving. The home was gone when I returned. There have been no further issues since face the facts. We just don't understand everything in life. All we can do is accept that sometimes things happen, Erie things and rather than be fearful of them, we have to just figure out how to help the situation. I think we helped our cover on neighbor go off to where he intended to be.
JON: Haunted houses aren’t a recent fascination. In fact, the earliest surviving report of a haunted house comes from Ancient Greece, in a letter written by Pliny the Younger regarding a haunted villa in Athens. Hauntings cross cultural lines too, with an account included in the Middle Eastern folklore collection Arabian Nights, and anyone who’s seen The Grudge knows well that Japan has their own feelings about ghosts.
JON: The next story is from Joe Palmer in Florida, and it’s read by Hector Cortes, our Search Engine Marketing Coordinator.
HECTOR: This account takes place in 1984 I'd say early October, the broker and I went to a real estate meeting together. It was dark and he dropped me off in the parking lot. I really needed to use the bathroom, so I went up to the office. It was around 10:00 PM the bathroom is off the hallway near the staircase. Everything was fine until I reached the front door. It could have been one second or an hour time stood still, but when I looked up the top of the staircase, the outline of an old woman and an old time dress was focused on me. I ran and it was discovered that I had left the front door open that night open, not just unlocked. After that incident, I had never been to the office after dark, nor had I told anyone about it. While I still worked there. About a year later, the old man who our janitor retired and the broker's wife came to my office looking pale. I asked if she was feeling okay. She just said to me that Andrew gave his notice to retire and told me that there had been several times he saw an image of a woman walking the hallway before sunrise, but never said anything about it since he was old and I might think he was senile. Years past. I got married and I did tell my wife about this strange experience, so she knew about 10 years ago the office was sold to a developer who restored it back to a BMB with an upscale restaurant on the first floor. By coincidence, my wife's hair salon was in the shop next to my old office and her hairstylist was telling her about workers at the Victorian building next door. We're saying a lot of strange things are happening to them and that they, that they thought the place was haunted. When my wife told her my story, the stylist had goosebumps. The stories then became public and today this 1880s building is part of the historic district goes.
JON: Famous names like Amityville, Hill House, and the Winchester Mystery House immediately bring to mind ghost stories, and The Shining is still considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made, even almost 40 years after its release. We have a collective fascination with the possibility of lingering spirits and the eerie situations that can arise as a result. As a real estate professional, you’ve likely heard of homes being haunted, and depending on your disposition that may or may not have affected your desire to close the deal.
JON: Our next story is from Susan Stedman in Georgia, and it’s read by Camille Kireilis, our Marketing Research and Development Coordinator.
CAMILLE: This was a rental that our company had just before I began working for them. We had just gotten out of the military and returned from Hawaii and we're looking for a small and expensive place till we got jobs and on our feet. This was an old one bedroom, one bath garage apartment on the property of the larger main house. Me, my husband, and an army buddy of his got the key from my mom, the leasing agent, and went to look at it when gloomy afternoon. It definitely showed its age, probably built in the 20s as we entered into the living room, we could see a large hole in the plaster wall at the far end. What was seriously disturbing was that the whole had the exact shape of an average sized man, just like someone had been thrown very hard against it. The whole place was dark and had not had turnkey work done yet. The kitchen was a greasy nightmare and our shoes stuck. As we walked through to the one bedroom, this is where things really got strange. My mother had told us that the young man who had lived here before and slowly gone crazy and been put into a mental hospital. That's why the property was empty. The bedroom was clean, bright, freshly paneled, and even the hardwood floor had been shined. The only piece of furniture was a chair near the door. There were even new white blinds on the two windows. When we entered, my husband and I both stopped short. It felt like I had walked into a dream. I was standing near the door and it was like seeing a double exposure of the room. There was an old brass bed in the far corner and on it lay a man who was clearly writhing in agony.
CAMILLE: He was covered in blood and held his stomach with both hands. I could see such clear details, but I saw he was lying on an old handmade quilt that was faded red and gold in the corner above him. At the level of the ceiling was a black nebulous mass, almost like a cloud of smoke with tendrils reaching towards the man, I could hear him screaming and fear and the fear was tangible all around me. He knew that thing in the corner was waiting for him to die and was telling him of all the torments. Come vaguely from behind me. I heard my husband yell for his friend to get me as he had begun to choke and gag. At that moment, I came back to the current time and found myself standing so close to the front window that my nose was pressed against the blinds. I hurried to find my husband throwing up over the portrayal. He had seen the same thing that I had. We returned the key to my mother and told her the place was haunted and that we wanted nothing to do with it. She just laughed at us. Several weeks later, I had begun to work for her company. We finally rented the place. No one had seemed interested even after it was clean. The owner took us to a thank you lunch. My mom jokingly mentioned that I had said the place was haunted. The owner didn't laugh. She said, I wouldn't doubt it. My cousin died in that bedroom. I'm sure I turned pale. My mom just said, I'm sorry. The owner's shrugged and told us it was not a big loss. He was a horrible man. As near the police could figure it was a drug deal gone wrong. He opened the door and someone shot him in the gut. He laid in that room for three days before he died. I couldn't eat anymore, but my mom was still trying to be nice. She said something like, Aw, that's a shame. The owner shook her head and said, the only shame was that he bled all over my great grandmother's hair. Lind quilt. I swallowed hard and said, red and gold. She looked at me and said, yes. How did you know that? I just shook my head. She sold the property. About a year later, I drove by a couple of years ago and the whole garage and apartment had been torn down. Though all the other houses are still standing around it.
JON: There’s no clear cut answer about how a real estate agent should approach a haunted house. Many states have laws regarding disclosing property history, but one thing that practically every ghost story agrees on is that ghosts are wily and hard to track down. What makes the hair on my neck stand on end may not affect you in the slightest.
JON: Our last story comes from Sandra Seavey in Milford, Connecticut, and it’s read by Zach Levine, our Content Marketing Specialist.
ZACH: I have sold 300 houses, but one really took the prize. The house was priced well, nice home and a block from the water. My client and I kept remarking, we were surprised it was still on the market as it had been in about three months. The seller had moved already and it left quite a bit of furniture behind. Well, our offer was accepted and we close quickly. My client called me about three weeks later and said he loved the house, but would you like to hear what was happening? He proceeded to tell me that he would go to work knowing he left certain doors open and he would come home and they would be closed. Then one day he came home in the bathroom, sink. Water was running. Another day it was the tub faucet, the strangers one was when he came home and the top of the toilet tank was removed. It was sitting on the toilet seat. Those are fairly heavy plus he said in the middle of the night he, we hear all sorts of low talking coming from the living room. At this point he told the story to his ex wife and she Googled the address. A newspaper article came up that a woman previous to the woman who sold the home to him had committed suicide the night before the sheriff was coming to a Victor. She had fallen on hard times and was too proud to ask for help. She put her cats in the bathroom with the water running in case they weren't found immediately. She would have to list of all their names and their vet. The issue started when the new owners started pulling up things in the garden as he was trying to get them back to their original beauty. Plus he would shoot a cat away from STR because he was allergic.
ZACH: We wondered if the cat, it may have been the previous owners. It was living with an old man next door and he'd been a good friend of the woman's. I told him to have a talk with her and let her know you loved the home and you are working to make the gardens nice again and that you want her to be happy. He also had the house staged. He called me a few weeks later and said things had calmed down. He still heard some talking every once in awhile, but that was it. He still lives there and loves the home and we hope she's at peace.
JON: Whether you’re terrified at the prospect of a ghost lurking one of your client’s hallways or don’t believe an ounce of it, it might be best practice to keep an open mind and avoid insulting any spectral presence. You never know who else is living in the house that you’re just not able to see.
JON: That’s it for this episode of Shop Talk, thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the episode, you can subscribe to us and leave a review on your podcast player of choice. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.