Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Bit About Real Estate

I recently had a "Lucy Riccardo" scenario. I was to show one of my listings, a very high end important one, and went over before the buyers were due to go through to turn all the lights on. 10,000 square feet of lights to turn on, and I notice the owner, who left before I arrived, had thoughtfully lit a couple of scented candles. When I am done turning on all the lights, I realize that I left the brochure in my car and dash out to fetch it to give to the buyers when they arrive. I grab it and go back to the door. Which is locked, and the house key and my cell phone are inside the house. I had no idea this was a door that would just lock without a key. The seller has another property around the corner from this one, he's down sizing and already bought his smaller home. I drive over there, he's not there. I go back to my office because I have no phone, and call the grounds keeper (who incidentally, is a creepy lurker, he is often in the house when I show it, a shadow moving down hallways and in and out of rooms). I am able to reach him and explain my predicament, but he can't help me, he's two hours away, but he says he thinks he knows where the owner is, and he'll try to track him down and have him call me. The owner doesn't use a cell phone. The potential buyers have decided to wait to see if I can get them in the house. I'm stressing big time and feeling very foolish.

The seller calls me and I tell him what happened, and that not only are the buyers waiting, but more importantly, I've got every light in his house on and there are unattended candles burning. He is a forty five minute round trip drive, and I leave to go get his key. I get to his daughter's house, whom he is visiting, and he gets his key ring and hands me the key. Now mind you, I have been showing his house for the better part of a year, he trusts me to be in the house alone ( granted, with sporadic sightings of the lurker). I ask him, "When I am done, where shall I leave the key for you so you can get in later?" You know what he says? I'll tell you what he says. He looks me right in the eye and says, "Oh, don't worry about it, leave it on the kitchen counter, I've got a key hidden on the property." Seriously?

You learn a lot about people by being in their homes. I don't open drawers or anything, of course, but just by looking around. The seller of this house is very serious and dour, and his house reflects it. There is no whimsy about it at all.

Because many of the homes I am in and out of are large and historic, I sometimes get a negative vibe. Some houses just feel happy and all is well. Other houses not so much.

There are many stories of ghosts in some of these homes. There is one house I have listed that I am fine in except for one spot in an upstairs hallway, and I can't wait to get out of that spot. It just gives me a bad feeling. I sold Whoopi Goldberg her house here, and I remember on several visits before the closing she came and spent quite a bit of time in the basement. I finally asked her if there was something about the basement she needed more information on; how could I help. She looked at me and smiled and said, "I like to be friends with the basement. If the lights go out you want to feel good about your basement." Enough said.

There is the story about one of these large estates with people hearing flute music, and seeing the figure of a woman walking on the property. (Probably in a white flowing gown. Why is it always a white flowing gown?) Several people had the same experience. Upon the renovation of the house, the workers actually uncovered an old flute.

Many years ago, I was showing what is the largest home in the area I service, it is 27,000 square feet. I was always a bit on edge in the house, but I figured it was simply because it was so vast (and deadly quiet when you're in there by yourself turning on lights and preparing for a showing). I was showing it to this woman and we were walking down the main hallway and she stopped dead in her tracks and said, "Do you hear that? Where are they?" I said, "Who?" She said, "All the voices, it sounds like I just walked into a cocktail party." I heard nothing.

You know the thing about ghosts, if they do indeed exist, is why are they always like, an old Indian woman, or a man in a civil war uniform, (or a woman in a white flowing gown!) Isn't their some housewife with curlers in her hair strolling around post death checking on things?