Scary Real Estate Stories: The House Is Vacant, But Someone’s Home…

The Halloween decorations have already been up in my neighborhood for about a week, announcing that the season for spine-tingling ghost stories has arrived.

To get in the spirit, we asked real estate professionals to share their creepiest stories from the field. Your clients may not want to know what’s lurking out there — at least until All Hallows’ Eve has passed — but these real estate tales of terror could be fun to share with colleagues, friends, and family during this spooky time.

Credit:  lynette

Credit: lynette

  • “I always make a habit of knocking or ringing the doorbell, even if the house is vacant. My clients and I were standing on the porch as I rang the doorbell of a vacant house, and we all distinctly heard “Who is it?” in a gruff little old lady’s voice. We all looked at each other. I asked if they heard it, and they nodded their heads up and down. We went in and checked out the house (and all the closets) but found no one. We didn’t make an offer, needless to say.” —Barry Long, EverStar Realty, Kennewick, Wash.
  • “Years ago, I had a listing that the seller said was haunted by a young boy. When my article came out in the newspaper for advertisement of the new listing, there was a young, dark figure of a boy standing in the doorway in the picture.” —Julie Beltran, Premier Real Estate, Tulare, Calif.
  • “I had a client a couple years ago who was eccentric, to say the least. Every time I showed him a house and we got to the basement, he would make a comment about how many bodies he could hide in it. Pretty nice guy, though.” —Chase Adams, 1st Rate Realty, LLC, Franklin, Pa.
  • “I was showing a home this past spring and as we were coming down from the walk-up attic, the door slammed in my face. I pretended that it was no big deal, but I was instantly unsettled and couldn’t wait to leave.” —Jane Johnson, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Jackson, Mich.
  • “An agent I know had a listing whose owner kept taking it off the market (then back on, then off again) because, she claimed, the ghost of her deceased husband was telling her to do so.” —Sara Minshull, Redfin, Aliquippa, Pa.
  • “I was showing a home built in the 1800s. The kitchen was actually located in the basement. When I went to get the lockbox key, my client told me that the door to the basement/kitchen was unlocked, so we went ahead and went in that way. We pulled the door closed behind us but didn’t touch any locking mechanisms. We proceeded to preview the home. We decided to exit the same way we came in, but when we went to open the door, it was locked. That creeped us all out, so we ran upstairs and fortunately were able to get out of the back door.” —Beth Baldwin, GRI, ABR, Virginia Capital Realty, Richmond, Va.
  • “I showed a house once, and the only things in the house were two boxes in a bedroom closet — each box containing the ashes of the owners. Pretty creepy.” —Caroline Blankfort, William Raveis Baer & McIntosh, Nyack, N.Y.

Victoria Holmen

Victoria Holmen is an intern for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at

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  1. Victoria Wiedemann

    I showed my listing which is a vacant house on October 12th 2015 in the afternoon and as I walked in to turn on lights. I walked down the hall, I noticed in the master bedroom a shadow. But, I didn’t think nothing of it. Before my buyers came in I stood at the front door and waited for them. I felt somewhat uneasy. The buyers looked at the home and left. I too hurried out of the home. As I was leaving the home my seller had called me and said his mother who had owned the home had died. This was a weird experience I had.

  2. A few years ago we sold a Pig farm to a new home developer. They decided to put the model home on the same lot that used to be the slaughter house. We got to sell the houses and my partner and I would be in the model home and experience doors opening and closing on their own quite often but the amazing part was at least once a day you could count on smelling bacon or ham cooking, so much so that clients would ask who was cooking – it smelled so good. Needless to say we never told them it was the pig farm slaughter house they were in. The model home took a while to sell in the end but from what I know it never smelled like bacon again when the new owner moved in. Very strange!

  3. Lori High

    I work with bank owned properties and had an inspection request for a property “out in the country.” It was a neat old farm house just off the interstate. I arrived, walked around the exterior and entered the property through the lock box provided. The home seemed to be secured … nothing seemed unusual. As I went from room to room taking pictures and noting repair items I became intrigued with the unique features including an observation tower in the center of the home that has a spiral stair case from the main level. I climbed up – incredible views in every direction! As I continued my inspection I went to the basement and as I came around the corner I saw an iron door swinging… as if it had just been used. Every hair on my head stood up as I saw beyond that door a long tunnel! I quickly reached for my cell phone and turned to high-tail it back up the stairs. That is when I discovered I was in an area far enough out of town that I had no cell service! I was freaked out! I secured the house and left immediately. Up the road I came across a neighbor in his yard, I stopped to ask if he had seen any activity at the property recently. He said it had been vacant for years. I told him it seemed someone was taking care of the house. He advised that there was a carriage house next door connected by an underground tunnel, but he believed the carriage house was vacant as well and he never sees anyone there. I told him I had located the tunnel and felt there might have been someone in the house! He shook his head and said, don’t think anyone has been there for a long time! Learned two lessons that day… Always practice The Buddy System and check the cell for service before I enter a house.

  4. My clients wanted to see a renovated home in the Historic part of Wilmington, NC. To my knowledge this home was not special. The showing instructions were that the listing agent had to be present at the showing. That’s not unusual in a Luxury Home. So I made all the arrangements. The listing agent that met me was an old friend of mine who was new to real estate. We got to the house before my clients so we took off upstairs to explore the home like two little girlfriends. I remember locking the front door with the deadlock bolt because I did not want anyone coming in while we were upstairs. Gorgeous home. My Realtor friend and I were having a lot of fun talking together. I saw my clients drive up and I went downstairs to let them in. I put my hand on the large wooden doorknob and to my surprise the door just opened in my hand. I thought my clients had pushed the door from the outside but then I realized that they were standing on the porch a long way from the door. Then I remembered that I had put the deadlock bolt on but had not unlatched it yet. I made a mental note that it was really odd because the force of the door opening had bent my elbow back without any effort from me.
    Clients loved the house. They wanted a friend who works for a renovation company to see the house. So I scheduled a second showing. That friend brought her 17 year old daughter along. The 17 year old walked in looked at me and said was anyone killed in this house? Good Realtor that I am, I said I would not have any way of knowing unless someone told me. She said I feel creepy. She was standing at the closet under the staircase.
    Later I thought about the daughter’s comment and my door experience so I checked the MLS for prior listings on the home. The previous listing agent had listed the home as being on the Old Wilmington Ghost Tour. So I called my friend and said, Okay, tell me the story. She said nothing bad that it was a little girl and that she had had an encounter with her at the closet door under the staircase. Seems she opened the closet door from the inside while it was locked outside. My friend said she was so afraid that the little girl would “be there” when my client opened the closet door. Well apparently she was there at my second showing with the 17 year old daughter of my client’s friend, which is what led me to research it. Obviously she was there at my first showing helping me to welcome my clients in to the house. Then I told my friend about the front door. My friend said that she is not a bad ghost that she just likes to have fun.

  5. Jan Greene

    I was showing a home in which the wife, a Realtor, had recently died. As I was getting the key from the lockbox, the curtain in the front window moved as if someone had pulled it aside to see who was at the front door. Both my clients and I saw this and commented someone must be home. No one was in the home and nothing near the window which might have caused the curtain to move!

  6. Diana Kajitori

    A couple of years ago I held an open house at an REO in a rough neighborhood.
    My sister accompanied me that day. While I was placing my directional signs, she
    opened up the home, windows and doors and lit a smudge stick for good luck.
    As she entered the front bedroom, she heard the deep voice of what sounded like
    a tall, older man. She spun around to see … nobody there.
    When I returned, she told me. For the next three hours, I lingered outside on the porch welcoming people inside.
    The show must go on!

  7. Jennifer Mars

    I was showing a vacant home to a family. Home was empty but very dusty. Suppossedly the lady that lived there had died in the home and had owned lots of cats. When I was showing the home to this family, their little boy was running around. His mom asked him what he was doing. He said chasing this cat. There was no cat that we could see. He ran down the basement stairs insisting he was chasing a cat. We felt a very cold eerie draft come up from basement. As we were leaving, there was an old bible on floor right by door where we came in. No one had seen it before and it was not dusty like entire house was. We all left quickly and were all creeped out!

  8. I once showed a home that needed a ton of fixing up to an investor. As we were getting ready to leave, I noticed on the wood beams in the living room, something ALIVE. Moments later, it dive bombed both of us and we ran out screaming, chased by a bat!

  9. Diane Pupino

    About 2 years ago, I listed a duplex that was built in the 40’s with one original owner. She was 92 and her husband had passed away years before I listed it, and she lived there by herself on the first floor and rented the second floor to an elderly lady. During the listing, she had passed away in the home and was found the next day by her care giver. About 2-3 days later, I went over to the duplex to check something. When I walked in the front door, the upstairs apartment door slammed shut. (There was no cross breeze or wind at all that day. As a matter of fact, it was very still and about to storm). I thought it was the renter upstairs so I ignored it. When I went to unlock her door, I couldn’t get it opened and had trouble with it…I felt a presence in the duplex which made me very uneasy. I very quickly went in and then out. When I left, I locked the door and as I was walking to my car, I heard noises upstairs and assumed again, that it was the renter. On my way home, I talked to the lady’s daughter who informed me that the renter upstairs had been out of town due to a death in her family……so no one was there at all during my visit!

  10. Woody Musson

    I had gone alone to preview a vacant house for a client . I passed a pair of closed laundry room doors in the carport on my way to take a look at the backyard. When I came back one of the double doors was standing open. I chuckled to myself, “ooOOooh! Must be ghosts.” Then the second door swung open right before my eyes. Of course, I thought, it is just the wind, but odd that it only blew open the doors when I was there. I closed the doors and got the key to the house from the lockbox. As I opened the screen door I could swear I heard a voice from inside the house saying something about someone being at the door. I thought that was odd, I was told the home was vacant. Could it be a squatter inside? I knocked loudly, no response, opened the door and called out. No one answered. Do I go in? I called my broker who had said he would meet me at the house but the cell phone call immediately went to static and disconnected. This is an area with an otherwise good signal. Now I’m thinking of the scene from Amityville Horror with the static on the phone. I go inside anyway, but totally creeped out. The house was sprawling, with hallways and stairs going in all directions. It was like twilight inside, dark, even though it was mid afternoon. Every door inside the house was closed. Odd, normally they would be left open to keep the rooms aired out. I knocked on each door before opening it, afraid someone would be there. I wanted to run from the house! When I came to the bathrooms I was scared to open the shower curtains. My mind is conjuring images from Psycho and The Shining… Nothing there thankfully. I was so happy to complete my preview and leave the house. As I was closing the door behind me I heard the voice again. “Side door, open!” It was a talking alarm system mounted next to the door in the kitchen. LOL!

  11. Some years back now, about Halloween time, My wife, who is also a REALTOR and me went to a home we were going to prepare for an open house the next day. It was a split level home. My wife inspected the upstairs and I inspected the downstairs. When I attempted to open a door, it appeared to be stuck. You know as doors do.

    I pushed and I pushed. When I pushed again about the third time. Someone on the other side pulled the door open and almost fell into the room. I screamed, ran up the stairs past my wife and ran out side. It was the son of the owner. No one was supposed to be in the house. My wife said, “Jim, what were going to do, leave me there?” So from that day forward, I always call out, “is anyone in the house?” before I enter.

  12. Jackie

    My sister took her then 5 yrs old to take a look at a house that was for sale. The owner passed away and his brother inherited the property from his brother who never married. Immediately upon arrival, my little nephew already complained about the house for being stinky and he refused to enter. After some effort, eventually they eventually convinced my little nephew to go in with them. It was a two storey house. After showing the upper level, the sale agent and my sister and nephew return to the living room at the first floor. Although it was very calm and no wind and all the windows were closed. A door at the second floor was suddenly slam very hard shut that startled everyone in the room. After they walked out of the house, it was another door slamming sound coming from the building. That night when my sister was sleeping at her house, she felt like someone was sitting on her chest and she could not moved. She also heard a warning about not trying to get the house. The house was a very good deal. The asking price was only slightly more than a regular condo and it also has some land for a little garden. Although my sister was tempted, she eventually declined the offer after numerous unwelcome signs she had witnessed.

  13. My family and I flip houses from time to time. This particular house we bought had been in rough shape of course and needed quite a bit of repairs. So after my days spent doing “REALTOR stuff,” I would go and work on the house. Often, I would find myself there “alone” working into the middle of the night. On a few instances I would be entranced into my work and feel like someone was right next to me!?!?! The atmosphere of the room would change.

    The wind from a fan in the other room would often be on and I could always notice the cool draft suddenly it stopped as if it was being blocked from reaching me. The sound in my right ear would still as if someone was wisppering to me. I was in the master bathroom at the time and the hairs began to stand on the back of my neck. Quite uneasy at that moment. I hurried and packed up for the night and went home!

    This happened a few more times in other areas if the house! As the remodel continued, we decide to move in to this house as I really don’t believe in those kinds of things, I quickly ignored or forgot about those errie times and chalked it up to spooking myself out! Well, later we are done and moved in. My profit margins quickly left as once we decided to move in we ended up upgrading everything and made it quite a nice place! A few months go by and we are preparing for my youngest son’s birthday. It is early in the morning. I notice a car slowly creeping in front of the house from the big window in our kitchen. I run outside to see if they needed something. It was the previous owners before the ones that had lost it due to foreclosure. They were in awe of what we have done. So feeling an opportunity to feed my ego, I said “well come on in and take a look!” They come in and they were somewhat emotional and teary-eyed about how we revitalized everything and “…really took the home to another level!” We come to the end of the tour and they begin telling us about their life in the home and then she drops a bomb on me! “Do you ever fell as if you are not alone in this house?” WHAT!?!?!? I had began to have the same feelings from time to time while we’ve been here but now I have a reason to believe that there might be something to this feeling and sense of uneasiness from time to time.

    These were reputable people. One was a State Cop. They both began telling us about there experience with ” The Feelings!” Needless to say, I now have a completely remodeled home up for sale! I garuantee you’ll never feel alone! 😉 … Kidding I’m stuck here for a while! 😐 Wish me luck!…lol