What do you do if you have a ghost in the house?! Asking for a Friend
In real estate we come across many challenges at various properties we are lucky enough to interview for, sell, or help a buyer purchase. There have been several ghostly experiences I have had in my ten years of being a realtor. Here are two of them for your reading pleasure.
A few years ago, I had a buyer prospect that I had been helping a few years before looking for a condo in San Francisco. They didn’t end up purchasing with me, but the mother reached out and said she was the executor of a friend’s estate and needed to interview realtors to sell their house. I thought to myself, oh wow this is great. Following up with prospective leads does pay off!
She asked if we could meet the next day as she was eager to get the ball rolling. Her friends were from Sweden with no family in the United States. The next day, she and her husband met me at my office, and we spoke about the pricing and marketing strategy etc. She asked if I could go with them and pop over to the house so I could give them my advice about what to empty, paint, fix, remodel etc. We decided to ride to the property together since it was just a few miles away from my office. My potential clients offered to drive us in their car. I opened up the door to the backseat to get in and noticed two large brown paper bags on the seat. My client opens up the other side of the car and says nonchalantly “Oh let me move their belongings”. I said, “Belongings?” and she says, “Yes, it’s the owner’s personal affects that were on them at the time of death.” I honestly don’t remember what I said in response to that, I was in shock. The whole time we had been discussing the sale of this home at my office, it didn’t occur to me to ask, when they passed away. As it turns out, these “sellers” were killed in a car accident together two days before. Their jewelry and shoes and clothes that they died in were sitting in the backseat right next to me. Yep. Off we went, on our way to the house.
The whole ten-minute drive, I grappled with accepting the fact that I was not only sitting next to dead people’s belongings, but they had just died the day before, but also still crossing all my fingers and toes I get the listing because hey, at the time, I wanted the business. We pull up to the house and get out. We go to the front door and my prospective client unlocks it. I cannot describe the feeling that hit us at the door. It was musty and thick. There were sandals by the front door, the voicemail light was blinking. There was a cup of coffee out on the counter. We were in someone’s home that expected to come home and never got the chance to. It was the illest feeling I had felt, especially on a listing appointment. All said and done, my prospect did not hire me to sell the house. She went with a realtor who spoke Swed. Thanks for the creepy experience anyway.
About two years ago I had the pleasure of selling what I dubbed “The Suicide House”. I had been communicating with the seller over the span of several months leading up to the tenant leaving, and at that point met to review and sign the listing paperwork. After reviewing the contract and signing on all the dotted lines, my client looks at this wife and looks at me. He says he just thought of something and wanted to know if I thought it would affect the home’s value. I looked back at him expecting to hear about some dry rot or scuffed floors. He then shares with me that there was a death on the property and it hadn’t been two years yet so legally we would have to disclose it. I asked him what type of death, and he said, “Well, not a peaceful one”. The tenant before the one that just moved out actually shot and killed himself in the garage, on Valentine’s day the year prior. Oh great. I get all the good listings. Not knowing what to say really and in actuality not being able to quantify a suicide in dollar value, I said, “Well, let’s see.” This was before I had ever even visited the property. The next week I met the owner at the home to get the keys and make notes of what needed to be done to prepare it to go on the market. Immediately I felt a creepy feeling. Not to mention the ceiling tiles in the garage kept falling off mysteriously and the door from the garage to the family room would open randomly, repeatedly. I saged the house 5 times and had my painters brighten everything up. No dark bamboo walls allowed here, not in the suicide house. As it turns out, people don’t care about suicide, not even suicide on Valentine’s Day. I disclosed the suicide everywhere in the disclosure package, and even disclosed my saging process. We ended up selling the house 7 days after hitting the market and for $200,000 over asking price.
With that said, houses definitely do hold energy. While you hope not to come across a house with “extra” energy, it definitely does happen from time to time. The best course of action from a realtor’s standpoint is sage and disclosure, sage and disclose.