When you’re in the real estate business, sooner or later there will be a house that someone says is haunted. The story below is true. Were these events just coincidence or were they something else?
When I was working on my doctorate, a friend and study partner was living in a new house in Orange County, Calif. She was in the antique business. Her home was like a showcase: every last inch of it beautifully decorated. When I met her, she was in the process of getting a divorce.
Although her house was a little over a year old, it already had the makings of a strange history. While the house was being built, a little girl was reportedly raped in it. A few months after my friend and her husband moved in, she said he had become manic-depressive. I was told he had numerous confrontations with the police and was refusing medication. Unbeknownst to his wife, he had allegedly placed a warranty deed on the property to access part of the equity and moved to Hawaii, where he was reportedly living in the bush outside the Honolulu airport.
My friend and I would normally study together at her house about twice per month. The lights would flicker periodically. If we went out for dinner, it was common for pieces of the furniture to be moved away from the wall. Since my friend had changed the locks and placed a security system on the house, there was no one who had access to move the furniture. There was also a window in the family room overlooking the canyon that would vibrate for no apparent reason. You could put your hand on the window and tell it to stop vibrating and it did!
After spending the afternoon preparing for our upcoming qualifying exams, we decided to go out to dinner to take a break. When we returned, the lights were flickering and a number of pieces of furniture were moved again.
As we sat back down to hit the books again, there was a loud rustling in the garage where she refinished her antiques. Her German shepherd, a very mellow dog who never barked, started barking and scratching crazily at the door to the garage. Although this didn’t disturb my friend, I made sure the dog was between me and whatever was in the garage. As soon as she opened the door, the dog broke away from me and raced into the garage. The dog raced to the other side of the garage, sat down, and acted as if nothing had happened.
After consuming a carton of chocolate ice cream to soothe our jangled nerves, we decided to watch "The Ghost of Flight 401," a movie based on a 1972 plane crash in the Florida Everglades. This probably wasn’t the smartest choice, but that was the best of the evening’s shows back in the days of seven TV channels and no cable. …CONTINUED
As I was getting ready to leave, we were standing by the front door adjacent to the stairway. Her stairs had beautiful wrought iron work topped with a heavy oak banister. As we were standing there talking, the banister and the wrought iron started to vibrate. Everything else in the house was still. I turned and asked her, "Do you see what I see?" She did. We were both mesmerized because nothing else was moving. This went on for about five minutes and then it stopped. At that point, I was out of there and there was no way I was going back.
My friend wanted out of the house. Needless to say, there were numerous challenges that had to be addressed before she could legally sell the property. California law allowed her to list the property, but both she and her husband had to sign the grant deed to close the transaction.
The lender who held the warranty deed was demanding payment as per terms of the note. Normally, their option would have been to foreclose. The challenge was that the police reports documented the fact that the husband may not have been legally competent at the time he signed the deed.
Since he was nowhere to be found, my friend and the lender petitioned the court to order the sale as part of the divorce proceedings. The court granted their request.
The house was listed and finally went under contract. The buyer was a deputy sheriff. Two days after opening escrow on the property, I heard that the escrow officer had a heart attack and died and that the title officer handling the file also had a heart attack but recovered.
I also heard that about four weeks into the transaction, the buyer’s right arm became mysteriously paralyzed. He saw several specialists, but no one could find a cause for the problem. He was forced to take disability leave from his job. This meant he didn’t have sufficient income to qualify for the loan, and the transaction was canceled. Within a few days after he canceled, the paralysis disappeared.
After almost a year, the house finally sold. The buyer, I learned, was a psychiatrist.
Fortunately, this transaction took place prior to California passing its disclosure laws. I have to wonder how you would make those disclosures today. Much of what happened could be coincidence. I still don’t have an explanation for the moved furniture, the strange window, and most of all, the vibrating staircase. Perhaps it’s just as well that I don’t.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.
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