It’s the witching month once again, and as Halloween approaches, now’s the time to tell tales of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. But some scary stories aren’t fake — and real estate professionals have some of the creepiest real-life anecdotes.
Anything can happen when you’re out in the field, and we’ve heard horrifying tales of vacant properties where “someone’s home,” ghostly figures in listing photos, and ghastly encounters during home tours. Some practitioners have even figured out how to turn a haunted listing into marketing gold. We asked our followers on social media for a fresh round of their most frightening tales, and, boy, will they tingle your spine. (Check out part two of this collection for more scary real estate stories.)
(Have a story you want to tell? Share your story with REALTOR® Magazine.)
- I had a first-time home buyer with a limited budget, and we found a small Cape Cod that was completely redone from top to bottom and being offered at an incredible price. This home showed like brand-new: new drywall, doors, windows, roof, carpeting, kitchen, and baths. My clients were so excited as they ran upstairs while I stayed on the first floor, critiquing the home and wondering why the sale price was so low. While standing in the dining room, I heard a woman’s voice in the kitchen say, “I’m in here.” Startled, I went to the kitchen to see who it was — and no one was there. The voice came again: “I’m in here.” I was so freaked out that I yelled for my clients to get ready to go. Of course, they wanted to make an offer so I pulled the seller’s property disclosure statement. Added onto the last page was a newspaper article that read: husband killed wife in the kitchen and lit the home on fire. I still get chills to this day — and, no, my clients decided not to make an offer! —Andrea Decker, SRES, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Coopersburg, Pa.
- Several years ago, my client and I were doing a final walkthrough of a house before closing. My buyer had requested that the seller fix a fence in the backyard. It was winter, and the snow was about a foot deep. As we were walking outside toward the fence, my foot hit something hard under the snow. We started digging and saw a boot. Thinking it had just been thrown in the yard, we attempted to pick it up. Then out of the snow came a leg, and that freaked us out. A homeless person had wandered onto the property and froze to death. Police roped off the area, and the closing was delayed two weeks. The buyer still closed, though. —Garry Britton, Hunt Real Estate ERA, Rochester, N.Y.
- A repeat buyer couple and I went to view a short sale listing. After I knocked on the door, it cracked open about a half an inch. I peaked inside, and it was pitch black. In the darkness, I heard a voice say, “Come in.” My buyers and I entered with our hands out in front of us because we couldn’t see anything. I asked, “Can I turn on some lights?” No reply. We turned a corner, where I found a light switch and turned it on. We were standing in the kitchen, where four or five people were sitting on couches in their pajamas, staring blankly ahead. There was also a deep freezer chest in the middle of the room and a hole in the floor. All of a sudden, two huge German shepherds pounced on a sliding door and started barking like crazy. My clients and I almost hit the ceiling, but the people sitting on the couches didn’t even flinch. They just sat staring straight ahead. I asked a question, and one of them kind of mumbled something. I thanked them for their time, and my clients and I quickly scooted out the door and into my car. We drove several miles before any of us spoke. Mrs. Buyer broke the silence by saying: “Did anyone else feel like we were about to become Sunday barbecue?” —Debbie Cullen, ABR, GRI, RE/MAX Realty Team, Cape Coral, Fla.
- I was visiting a new development that was still empty and had no electricity. I went down into the basement of one of the homes with a flashlight, and I saw something in the shape of a head on the floor! I just ran out of there as fast as I could. I later found out it was a bike helmet. —Alexandra Leal, HallVersátil, Almada, Portugal
- As I was showing a piece of land, my client and I discovered both human and pet cemeteries overgrown with brush, cement kennels, a vacant squatters’ camp complete with homemade alarms, massive spider webs between nearly every tree, and it was at the end of a long dirt road with a big yellow “Dead End” sign. All I kept thinking was this property looked like something straight out of a horror movie. —Sean Walker, Century 21 Triangle Group, Cary, N.C.
- I once showed a home that, from the outside, looked like a simple, ordinary ranch. Once inside, however, we were amazed at the number of religious symbols all over the place. There was a crucifix over every door — including closets and cupboards — and each door had a picture of various saints and religious icons taped to the front and back. It was very overwhelming and, frankly, creepy. Interestingly enough, my client was an Orthodox priest. He said, “This house is ruled by fear.” —Karen Rice, AHWD, Davis R. Chant, REALTORS®, Hawley, Pa.
- I was hosting an open house alone, and an older man came in by himself. He didn’t really look around too much but kept talking to me. He talked about another home he had near Lake Superior and mentioned it was such a cold lake that you could dump a body in it and it would never come back up. —Laureen Maynes, Lund Realty, Glendale, Ariz.
- I recently sold a house that had been empty for 16 years. The neighbors called it the “Dead House.” Apparently, tragedy struck the family who used to live there: Dad committed suicide, mom disappeared, and son was sent to jail and killed himself. While emptying the house of everything, I found a legal book with highlighted paragraphs on how to kill and kidnap people and get away with it. —Cheryl DCruz, RE/MAX Aerospace Realty, Cape Canaveral, Fla.