Ghost Stories

Two bedrooms, two baths, one apparition

October 1, 2006

Just about every practitioner has had to deal with unusual circumstances when helping people buy or sell a home, but what do you do if something truly out of the ordinary — and possibly out of this world — pops up?

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® attorneys say although there’s generally no duty to disclose reports of ghosts or other nonmaterial factors, if claims of such activity are so widely notorious that the desirability or even value of a property may be affected, disclosure of those claims might be required or at least prudent.

In the spirit of Halloween, we asked real estate professionals to share their brushes with the paranormal. Their tales will give believers a chill and nonbelievers a laugh.

  • Teri Herrera, CRB, CRS®, a sales associate in John L. Scott Real Estate’s main office in Bellevue, Wash., was showing a client a two-story, waterfront home that she thought was empty. She and the buyer suddenly heard piano music and voices coming from the lower level. Thinking there was a party in progress, Herrera headed downstairs to let the revelers know she was showing the house. As she descended the stairs, the music and voices suddenly stopped. When she opened the door to the lower level, nobody was there, but there was open sheet music on a nearby piano. “I turned on my heel and flew up the stairs, nearly colliding with my client. I ran out the door with my client right behind me,” Herrera recalls. Realizing she’d left the house unlocked, but not wanting to return, Herrera called the listing agent, who informed her that the seller’s elderly mother had lived downstairs and had passed away only three days before.
  • Gerry Lukenas, a salesperson with Keller Williams Realty in Carmel, Calif., had a listing for a home that her daughter was renting. The daughter said she often heard noises in the crawl space that sounded like children crying. “Her friend, a spiritual leader, said the house had been a drug house and that children had been kept there against their will. She told my daughter to simply reassure the ‘ghosts’ that they were safe, and then they would quiet down.”

When the house sold, Lukenas disclosed the ghosts in the transfer disclosure statement, which got a laugh from the buyer’s agent. But, two weeks after escrow had closed, the buyer’s agent called to say the new owner was hearing noises in the crawl space. Lukenas told the owner to reassure the “ghosts” that they were safe. “I'll never forget her answer. She said, ‘I've always wanted children but never had any. Now I'll have my own family!’”

Chuck Paustian is a former REALTOR® Magazine senior editor.

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