Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Haunted Real Estate
The house seemed normal enough; two stories in an older neighborhood. But real estate agent Virginia Gruver soon found there was something wrong.
“I had a listing back in the ’80s when I was a new agent,” she said. “Another agent was going in to selling Better Homes and Garden franchises and he had about a dozen listings that he needed help with. He split the commission with me and let me work them.”
The house seemed nice and Gruver looked forward to what might be an easy sell.
“The owners had taken good care of it,” she said. “They’d updated the kitchen and two bathrooms. I could have lived in it and I am picky. There really wasn’t anything scary about this house.”
The house was a short distance from where Gruver lived and quite often the neighbor called Gruver to tell her someone had left lights on.
“So I would drive over, go through the house turning off lights and curse those stupid agents for leaving them on,” she said. “At least that’s what I thought was happening.”
In the 1980s, agents showing a house would take a key out of a box that hung from the front door and, as is still customary, leave a business card in a prominent place to let the selling agent know they’d shown the house. It made Gruver even angrier when she got to the house to turn off the lights and no one had left a card.
“Well this happened a few times and then one day the neighbor called, it was evening just about time for the sun to set,” she said.
She drove to the house along with her kindergarten-age daughter.
“I unlocked the door and for some reason I felt uneasy,” Gruver said. “I told her to stay by the front door while I checked the rooms and turned out the lights.”
Gruver switched off a light in the den that was always on and went toward the stairs to the second floor when she felt a sudden panic grip her.
“At the foot of the stairs, there was a bath; the door was partly closed,” she said. “Something told me not to open that door. I trusted my intuition.”
Gruver ran past the partially open door to the stairs, turned off the lights quickly and ran back down.
“I grabbed my daughter and locked the house up,” she said. “At that time, I wasn’t thinking ghost, I was thinking there was a person hiding in the house. It just spooked me. I planned to take someone over the next day and check it out.”
She didn’t have to wait.
“I got a phone call that evening from another lady agent from my office,” Gruver said. “She told me she’d had an appointment to show that house that day but the buyers stood her up, so she ended up waiting alone in the house. She told me she had an odd feeling in there.”
Gruver didn’t tell the agent her story, she just listened.
“She said she thought someone was in that bath at the foot of the stairs,” Gruver said. “She was braver than me and she went into the bathroom, pushed back the shower curtain, looked behind the door – nothing.”
The agent told Gruver she felt so uneasy she brought their manager to the house.
“She thought maybe a vagrant had broken in, so they went through the house looking for some way that someone could have gained entrance,” Gruver said. “There were no broken windows, nothing that they could see.”
The house spooked the agents’ manager as well.
“They both said the house made them uncomfortable and my manager said he thought it was haunted,” Gruver said. “This is a big man who has always been a no nonsense type of guy.”
The next day Gruver announced to her office she had a listing she thought was haunted.
“Everyone piled into cars to go check out my house,” she said. “One group went through and left me there with an older guy, John B. He thought it was a great house. He didn’t believe in any of that nonsense and told me that he’d sell that house.”
About two weeks later, he did.
“The first thing his buyer did was have the house re-wired,” Gruver said. “My guess is that they had issues with the lights also.”
A few months after the sale, Gruver received an odd phone call.
“John B. called me and told me that they moved out,” she said. “They didn’t share a reason with him. John B. did ask me what I knew and I explained that I had never met the sellers. By the time I got involved they had already moved to Chicago.”
Curious, Gruver contacted the agent who had originally listed the house and asked about the sellers.
“He told me that they were a couple with a few children,” Gruver said. “He said it was a sad story.”
The wife worked for a company that sold supplies for remodeling kitchens and baths and had just finished remodeling the kitchen and her favorite room – the first floor bath at the foot of the stairs.
“She was working on the second floor bath when she died from an aneurism,” Gruver said.
When Gruver heard that, her uneasy feeling suddenly made sense.
“I suspect she loved her house so much, she really didn’t want another woman taking over her space.”
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s books on the paranormal, “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us,” and “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.