September was another strong month for residential home sales in the twelve communities covered by this report. There were 104 transactions at an average sales price of $406,327 for the month compared to 91 sales at $316,816 last September. Last month's average sales price was pumped up by eight sales over $1 million with one sale coming in at $7 million. For the first three quarters of the year there have been 784 sales at an average price of $302,663 compared to 676 sales at an average of $299,060 for the same period in 2012. That's a 15 percent increase in the total number of sales. That's almost as scary as Halloween!
And, as Halloween approaches, I felt it is my civic duty to provide homebuyers with some tips on determining whether a home could be haunted or not. After all, some people are more sensitive to otherworldly phenomenon than others and don't want to live in a house with some unseen previous owners still there. It is kind of the same way some people get worked up about radon. You can't see radon either, but it scares the bejeesus out of some folks.
Anyway, it is worth a discussion because many times a great home is ruled out and not purchased because of something strange going on during a showing. As a realtor, I have a duty to set the record straight and clarify some of these "occurrences." Realtors have had to take continuing education paranormal courses and can help you determine whether the unsettling event you just experienced was a haunting, your imagination, or just part of buying a home. Buying a home without a realtor can be pretty scary.
The most common sign that a place is haunted will be that you will feel like you just walked through a cold spot or that the room suddenly drops in temperature. This could very well mean that you just walked through dear departed Uncle Josiah because he just couldn't get out of the way in time. When you look at houses, try not to move too quickly and barge into rooms. This will give those souls still living there time to get out of your way. Taking your time also allows you to observe more of the home you are considering buying. It might also help you to determine if that sudden chill comes from a broken window or drafty door.
Another common sign that you have an unwanted guest in the house is unexplained noises. Usually, these noises occur in the middle of the night in the pitch black, so if you hear them in broad daylight during the showing you can be assured things are going to get worse. That scurrying and scratching sound could be a squirrel in the ceiling...or maybe not. That banging sound could just be air in the heating pipes, but then you realize the house has forced hot air heat. Did that door just slam shut because Josiah is mad that you are here or is it because of sudden drop in air pressure in the house? Now, you are beginning to see why you need a realtor who can set you straight on these things.
Sometimes on showings you hear hushed, faint whispers when you are in a room by yourself. That can be pretty unnerving, especially when you realize that they whispering about you. Was it your realtor talking to the listing agent? Perhaps not, the listing agent was outside... What about that uneasy feeling that you are being watched? If the homeowner didn't leave during the showing it is can be very uncomfortable and that's why we always try to insist they are not there. But what if Josiah didn't leave either and it feels like he is up on the corner of the ceiling? Makes the hair stand up on your neck, doesn't it? Buying a house on your own can be a scary thing.
It is well documented that strange animal behavior is another indicator that there is an unknown presence in a room. Animals have sharper senses than humans and their psychic abilities are much more finely tuned. I have been on many showings where the owner's beloved pet was in his crate barking his lungs out when we came in to look at the house. That's normal for a dog. Not so much for a cat. Could it be a sign that something else is going on?
Many times on showings you may be unsettled by a shadow that you catch out of the corner of your eye. You might also be startled when you glance in the bathroom mirror and see someone lurking behind you. Then, with great relief, you realize it is your realtor. And behind him is Josiah. But that doesn't scare you, because even though your realtor is pretty scary looking too, you have him between you and the unknown...
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 10/23/13. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.