Friday, May 21, 2010
More Haunted Real Estate
A real estate agent sold an old property in downtown Indianapolis to a metropolitan police officer. The agent, now retired, didn’t expect the telephone call she received from the officer a few weeks later.
“Did you know this place was haunted?” the policeman asked.
“No,” the agent said.
“There’s a woman who glides up our stairs,” the officer told her.
“Are you OK with this?” the agent asked, starting to worry.
“Yeah,” the policeman said. “It’s cool.”
In Indiana, like many states, there are laws that require real estate agents disclose the property is haunted if a potential buyer asks, said Jill S. Beitz, an agent with F.C. Tucker Company, Inc.
“In Indiana, the haunted property falls into the category of stigmatized,” she said. “Under Indiana law you don’t have to disclose that fact until you’re asked directly.”
However, when it comes to the seller disclosing this information, most agents want to remain in the dark.
“Usually that’s the kind of thing you’d like to plug your ears and say, ‘La la la la la. I don’t want to know anything about it,’” Beitz said. “You can always tell whenever you ask an agent those questions (about hauntings). They grimace a little bit because of that legal issue.”
When it comes to haunted property, Beitz is different than most real estate agents – she’s a paranormal investigator. Haunted properties don’t surprise her.
A friend of Beitz who decorates properties going on the market called her one day and told her about a house she was decorating. On her first visit to the house, the seller said the basement was haunted – but that wasn’t the only strange thing about the house.
“She went to the upstairs of the house. All the doors from the third floor are locked from the outside and manacles are on the walls,” Beitz said. “She said, ‘I have to go back to this house. Would you go with me?’”
Beitz did, and found her friend was right about the house.
“We both agreed we didn’t like the stairs,” Beitz said. “I had to swallow pretty hard to walk up them.”
She also had a problem taking photographs in the home – a problem she’s noticed in a number of her listings.
“I’ve had some weird things happen,” she said. “I would notice in some of my houses I’d have a hard time photographing. I’d start getting big orbs, mist, and all kinds of stuff that messed up my pictures. I asked everyone if they had a hard time photographing their property and they looked at me like I was crazy.”
Orbs – bright balls of light that began appearing in photographs at the dawn of the digital age – are often called proof of ghostly activity. Usually it’s moisture, dust or insects that appear as orbs when reflecting the flash. Sometimes, however, orbs are a bit harder to explain.
While photographing the listing of an elderly woman named Rose Garr, Beitz had a hard time taking a photograph without something anomalous appearing in the pictures. Beitz knew it was Rose’s late husband who was upset she was there.
“I said, ‘Mr. Garr, Rose has moved out, she’s fine. We’re selling your house, just be at peace.’ Then I could take the pictures,” Beitz said. “(Paranormal) investigators don’t put stock in orbs, but it always makes me pay a little more attention when things like that happen.”
Although popular culture has glamorized ghosts and haunted locations, they aren’t always popular with buyers.
“The reason those things were always seen as stigmatized is that it’s going to decrease the value of the property or make it unappealing,” she said. “What I’m curious to find out is if there’s a segment of people as buyers who would be looking for haunted property. It would make it a niche property, like lake property.”
However, Beitz warns not all haunted houses are as friendly as the woman gliding up the stairs in Indianapolis or what people see on TV.
“It can be very serious,” she said. “One person could live in a house for decades and be fine and have someone else move in with personality issues which will open it up to it.”
Or, someone could be looking for trouble.
“Right now I have someone who has activity. She’s asking for it. She’s a Wiccan and she’s set up an altar,” Beitz said. “You might think you just have this cute little friendly ghost and it’s an entity. That’s non-human and has never lived on this earth. I would never advise someone to start monkeying around.”
Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt
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 newest book on the paranormal, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.