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Should Realtors warn you a dream house has had paranormal activity?

Special to the Observer

This December 2013 photo shows the 1901 Victorian home at 1217 Marion St. in Dunmore, Pa. Pennsylvania homeowners Gregory and Sandi Leeson are thoroughly creeped out by their 113-year-old Victorian home. So, when they put the house up for sale last month, they advertised it as slightly haunted.
This December 2013 photo shows the 1901 Victorian home at 1217 Marion St. in Dunmore, Pa. Pennsylvania homeowners Gregory and Sandi Leeson are thoroughly creeped out by their 113-year-old Victorian home. So, when they put the house up for sale last month, they advertised it as slightly haunted. AP

Real estate agent Virginia Bryan lived as a child in a house that was said to be haunted. She grew up, earned her real estate license and started writing novels on the side when business slowed. She introduced us to fictional heroine Blakeney Heath, named for the neighborhood down in Ballantyne.

She writes about Bee Heath - and haunted houses.

She laughed when I asked whether a prospective buyer had ever asked if a house was haunted. "No, " she said, "but I have heard other agents talk about that. There was a house in Monroe where a room upstairs was nailed shut. That will make you wonder. ..."

It's more than a fun Halloween question because, in some places, Realtors have to disclose reported paranormal activity. In North Carolina, though, you won't learn about things that go bump in the night unless you ask.

And it's a shame that no one ever asked Bryan about ghosts and goblins because, goodness gracious, the spooky stories come tumbling out.

In "Haint Babies, " an eBook available for Kindle on Amazon.com, Bee Heath tracks her birth mother to the edge of the mountains, then inherits a mansion neighbors say is haunted. There are reports of strange noises and lights. There are ghosts and otherworldly creatures.

When Bryan was little, her family moved from Valdese to Charlotte. She and her five brothers lived with their parents for a while in a scary house on an overgrown lot on the river in south Mecklenburg. She remembers that it was near Buster Boyd Bridge, maybe on Dixie River Road.

Bryan tells the story of that house in an upcoming eBook, "Them & Me, " about growing up with five brothers. During a howling storm, her mother huddled with six kids in the dark - as they all listened to the home sigh and groan. The dark was menacing, suffocating.

Anyway, if a potential buyer had asked Bryan about a haunting, how would she answer?

"Disclose, disclose, disclose, " said Bryan, who's with Keller Williams. If the client says that she has heard that the house is haunted, then the agent ought to reveal that she has heard the same stories. "You're pretty much duty bound to tell it, if they ask, " Bryan said.

In North Carolina, a death in a house is not a material fact that must be disclosed upfront. A report that the deceased is still hanging around isn't, either. So if you hear stories about ghosts knocking around in a house you're thinking about buying - or if you see a door nailed shut - you'd better ask.

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