54: Haunted Houses, Part II
It doesn’t bother you that the house abuts the graveyard?” I queried, holding my breath a little. “Oh not at all,” replied the new buyer. “Wouldn’t it just be wonderful if the house came with ghosts?
Faith from Maine, as read by Krista Reuther
About This Episode
Things that go bump in the night can complicate real estate listings. What formerly looked like a perfect home can suddenly seem quite terrifying once you learn about the ghost that comes with it.
This episode compiles four true stories sent in by real estate agents. For more stories of haunted houses, check out our blog.
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JON: Next week is Halloween, which means that this very strange year we’ve all had is near its conclusion. But before 2020 ends, and before the very spooky month of October is entirely in the rearview mirror, we wanted to have a little fun.
JON: We sent out a request to all of our real estate students for their scariest haunted house happenings. From the responses, we were able to put this show together and also an accompanying blog post, which is linked to in our show notes. So sit back and take in the haunted house stories sent in to us by real estate agents just like you.
JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha, and on this episode you’ll hear four terrifying tales of haunted houses and the unexplained phenomena that sometimes accompanies real estate.
JON: Our first story comes from Dan in Fairfax, Virginia, and is read by Gideon Slife, Web Designer at The CE Shop.
GIDEON: While rehabbing a home in Alex, I was talking to my handyman when I saw a Confederate soldier walk from one wall to the other wall in the coat closet. I asked my handyman, “Who's here with you?” He said, “No one,” and ran to the closet and found that the closet was not deep at all. I told my handyman what I saw, and he said, "Funny you should say that."
GIDEON: As I was twisting the last screw into the wall of a mirror, I looked into the mirror and behind me was a Confederate soldier looking at me. I turned my head and he was gone. It spooked me so much, I went and had a smoke. While outside smoking, the mirror I had just fastened to the wall came loose and the mirror fell to the floor and broke. That ghost cost me $135. The screws were found 15 feet away on the other side of the bedroom. The tenants have told me their dogs do not go into the master bedroom ever and they used to sleep in the bed with them before moving into this home.
JON: A frequently asked question by real estate agents regarding haunted houses is how would you know? You’re not spending a night in every home you sell, after all, so it’s not like you would know that there are mysterious footsteps down the hallway at 2am every night. You’re typically not alone in the house at all, and hence aren’t in the position to question its groans and creaks, or whether whatever you saw in the mirror was really there or not.
JON: In most states, sellers don’t have to say anything about purported hauntings. Just last year, Zillow was intrigued by this very topic and did a state-by-state analysis to see which ones required agents or sellers to disclose spooky happenings. Like everything else in real estate, disclosure laws can vary a lot state by state, and some definitely care more than others. In fact, it turns out that only four states have paranormal activity listed in their real estate disclosure laws: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. In New Jersey, a ghostly resident only has to be disclosed if specifically asked about its presence.
JON: Now, I know what you’re thinking. How could a ghost be proven, and why is this even a real estate disclosure law anywhere? There are countless movies that seek to capture irrefutable proof of a ghost, Poltergeist perhaps being the most famous, and since none of us can point to any real life evidence, it doesn’t seem like ghosts should even be part of the real estate conversation. And to that I simply say that perhaps you’ve never found yourself in a truly haunted house.
JON: Many states answer the question of the legitimacy of hauntings by having statutes regarding “stigma” or “psychological impact.” Anyone working in real estate for any length of time knows the importance of keeping rules and regulations broad in order to account for the unexplainable and unforeseeable things that inevitably pop up. Like a ghost.
JON: This next story is from Jason in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is read by Patrick Furlong, Technical SEO Specialist at The CE Shop.
PATRICK: Early fall and I had to meet a client at a home. We were trying to get done before dark. We pulled up to this home in Moon Valley. The home was a single level on a cul de sac. We got there late and it was dark. I looked to the door bell to see if the electricity was on. It was not! I looked through the glass next to the door and noticed that there was a lamp on! Weird because the electricity was off in the home. I opened the door and there were newspapers near the chair where the lamp looked like it was on. The home had a weird smell, not the kind of smell that an empty home has.
PATRICK: More of a musty, old smell. I took my client around the home with the dim light of my phone. While walking you could feel a presence of something or someone in the home. We went into the master bedroom and I'm not even kidding, it was freezing in there. It was ICE COLD and the feeling was that there were others in the room.
PATRICK: We headed outside to check the outdoors and the AC unit. By this time it was pitch dark. We were on the east side of the home and the neighbor approached us. Scared the living daylights out of us. He asked what we were doing. I told him I'm a Realtor and handed him a card. We talked to him about the home and told him about our experience in the master bedroom. He then told us the home was the scene of a gruesome murder.
PATRICK: The brother was murdered in the master bedroom by a shotgun and the home was haunted. The owners had changed the AC unit 2 times in the past couple months but they could not get the master bedroom’s temperature under control. I know the home sat on the market for another 5 months before it sold. This story still freaks me out.
JON: After the break, we’ll dive into two more stories of haunted houses and the realtors who happened across them.
JON: Though we’re talking haunted houses, there’s nothing scary about a career in real estate. It’s an unparalleled entrepreneurial opportunity where you can name your own hours and have an unlimited earning potential. If you’re considering it, you might be scared off by the commitment, but what if I told you that getting started is as easy as signing up for an online course? The CE Shop has online Pre-Licensing courses that are mobile friendly and available to you whenever you want to learn. Use promo code SHOPTALK for 25% off your real estate courses.
JON: You might wonder why anyone would buy a haunted house, but there is certainly a market for them. In a study by Clever Real Estate, millennials were found to be 13 times more likely to buy a haunted or stigmatized house than baby boomers. Before you try to draw any grand conclusions from that stat, let me just say that it’s because many millennials have no other options. As previously stated on this show, millennials are now America’s largest generation ever, and for many of them who started careers during the Great Recession, they’re nearing prime homebuying age with a lack of funds to buy their dream house.
JON: Enter stigmatized properties, which typically have lower price tags to account for the ghosts that may or may not become your new eternal roommates. 31% of the millennials included in this study were most interested in a home under $200,000 and 67% were fine with buying a fixer-upper that they could rehab into their perfect home.
JON: The study also found that men were twice as likely to live near a cemetery, 2.4 times more likely to purchase a haunted home, and three times more likely to live in a home where someone was murdered. The gender breakdown can be attributed, said Clever Real Estate, to the fact that men are less likely to believe in the paranormal and more likely to choose the first listing they find.
JON: Next up is a story sent in by Faith in Maine, and is read by Krista Reuther, Content Editor at The CE Shop.
KRISTA: In real estate you never know what may happen next! My story started normally enough; I met with a wonderful new buyer who was looking for a family home in Maine. She, her husband, and their young daughter were relocating from England. Her husband hadn't yet arrived in Maine yet so I looked with the wife and daughter at many homes before narrowing it down to the top three candidates. I remember her asking me which of the three homes I thought her husband would prefer, but frankly it was an answer I wasn't well qualified to give, since I'd never met him. She settled on the one in a small town on a dead end road. It was a real cutie, in her price comfort zone, and with only two minor defects I could see.
KRISTA: One was that, as a former farm house, it had only two small bedrooms and a very small bath. She assured me that wouldn't be an issue as their family wouldn't be adding more kids so no need for more space. The second issue I approached a bit more hesitantly. The house abutted the largest and oldest cemetery in town, it was obvious but I mentioned it anyway, just in case. "Oh my," she laughed. "Everything in England abuts a cemetery, that won't bother us at all.” The sale went forward. Her husband arrived and I swung by with their housewarming gift (a large plastic, green turtle sandbox for their daughter, that clearly didn't fit in the gift bag at the closing). Meeting the husband for the first time I felt compelled to ask how he liked the home his wife and I had so thoughtfully picked for them.
KRISTA: "Well," he said, in a great English accent, "I can't get any sleep with the ghost children climbing on the bookshelves in the bedroom all night." Stunned into an unnatural silence - given real estate agents’ propensity for chattiness - I made some mindless pleasantries and excused myself. I lost no time calling his wife, barely even making it out of the driveway before blurting out, "Does your new house have ghosts?!" "Well yes, I guess," she replied. Unsure of just how to respond to that, I waited to see what might come next. "It's okay", she said, "Paul sees ghosts everywhere." In Maine there is no requirement to disclose ghosts or death, violent or otherwise, as material defects but I do remember thinking, "Well I'm glad they won't be selling that house again any time soon!"
KRISTA: But of course as fate would have it, 18 months later when I saw the birth announcement on Facebook, I knew I'd be getting the call to list. I did. I also got the call to show the house to the buyer who didn't have a real estate agent and we ended up in a dual disclosed situation. Unsure exactly how to address the idea that the house came with "extra" features that I myself had never seen and wasn't a hundred percent sure even existed, I started the same way I had with the current owners. "It doesn't bother you that the house abuts the graveyard?" I queried, holding my breath just a little. "Oh not at all," replied the new buyer. "Wouldn't it be just wonderful if the house came with ghosts!"
JON: Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ve all spent more time in our homes than ever before. You’ve probably noticed things you never would have otherwise, like the neighbors going on a walk at the same time every morning or a dog allowed to sprint around the yard only at lunchtime. You also might have noticed signs of your house being haunted.
JON: John E. L. Tenney is a paranormal investigator who said he used to receive two to five calls a month from people with reports of hauntings. Since the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns, that number has increased to about ten calls a week.
JON: It’s become a total cliche at this point to say it, but 2020 has been rough for many reasons. It’s a historical year in so many aspects, and many people have found that living the historical moment isn’t quite as fun as you might have suspected. There are stressors and frustrations all over the place, and when you add all of those up and compound them with being confined to your home without much social contact, you might start to go a little crazy. You might even start to think that the natural creaks and moans of your house sound a bit like a lingering spirit. Or - and this is the more fun option - maybe you just finally took note of the ghost that’s been there all along.
JON: Our final story comes from Melissa in Miami, and is read by Hector Cortes, Search Engine Marketing Specialist at The CE Shop.
HECTOR: I was on a second showing of an old house whose owner had just passed away. All of her belongings were still in the home. The new potential owner, my buyer, was going through the house commenting on all the antiques she would get rid of and all the ways she would change the home. My client said she would blow out walls, remove specific architectural details and make major changes right away after closing. Knowing we would be placing an offer that day, I brought a purchase contract with me all filled out, I just needed my buyers signature.
HECTOR: All parties involved sat down at the antique table to tend to the paperwork. Just as my buyer began to sign the contract, the antique mirror that had been hanging over the mantle for the last 75 years mysteriously falls off the wall and onto my client's head! My client screamed, the mirror broke into a million pieces and my client was covered in blood! 911 was called and EMTs arrived on scene. Fortunately, my client suffered only surface cuts but the home proved to be too spooky for my buyer and she did not purchase the home!
JON: Whether you’re selling haunted houses or regular old non-haunted houses, the unexplainable is likely to happen. Being able to shrug it off and move on with your real estate responsibilities takes real professionalism, but I believe in you. Just ignore that feeling that you’re being watched even when you know you’re alone, and remember that even the most unappealing house has its buyer.
JON: That’s it for this episode of Shop Talk, thanks for listening! Let others know how spooky and insightful this episode was by leaving a review on your podcast player of choice, and remember to subscribe too. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.