Jon, Tony, and special guest Marc Edelstein discuss some of the spooky, creepy, and scary real life real estate stories they’ve experienced or heard about.

Jon Lafferty:
Hey, everybody. Welcome to Avoiding Real Estate Turbulence Halloween special podcast. This is your pilot, “Stabbing” John Lafferty, with CENTURY 21 Town & Country.

Tony Abate:
And Tony “The Axe” Abate with Ross Mortgage, and we are your real estate pilots.

Jon Lafferty:
And we want to welcome our special guest, “Massacring” Marc Edelstein, with Ross mortgage.

Tony Abate:
We should be in costume. We forgot that one.

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah, I didn’t think about that.

Tony Abate:
Maybe we look scary enough as it is.

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah. So we were just sitting around chatting, with Halloween around the corner, and in the business that we’re in, we come across houses that have interesting histories. These guys sometimes see it on the lending side, I certainly see it in walking through homes, and so we all kind of had interesting stories about things that we’ve come across, and thought we’d share a few of them with you today.

Tony Abate:
Perfect timing. Perfect timing. So let’s just start.

Jon Lafferty:
So, Marc, yeah, you were talking about something that you had come across …

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah, I had a client of mine who purchased a home. It was owned by HUD, and it was the scene of a murder, and she was the first buyer after this had happened. So the appraisal comes in, and of course you want to take a pretty good look at that appraisal, right, because you know what happened there, and you just see drywall missing for the first four feet up in certain rooms, where something clearly happened in that room, where that was needed for evidence.

Marc Edelstein:
But I thought, for sure, this woman was going to back out of this deal once she found out that this had happened there, but she just … she couldn’t get over what a great deal she was getting on the house, that she put it behind her, and was like, “I’m still buying this house. I don’t really care what happened.”

Tony Abate:
Wow. The whole half the drywall missing didn’t dissuade her or anything?

Marc Edelstein:
No.

Tony Abate:
No. Wow.

Jon Lafferty:
Wow.

Tony Abate:
Crazy. And then did she find out? I mean, was it discovered or revealed?

Marc Edelstein:
It was discovered early on. She had plenty of opportunity to decide to back out, but it was too good of a deal to pass up, I guess.

Tony Abate:
Wow. Hope she’s doing well in the crime scene.

Marc Edelstein:
I know she is.

Tony Abate:
Yeah? Wow. Wow.

Jon Lafferty:
That’s … and she went ahead with it anyways. Well, so I, several years ago, had a buyer who was interested in a condo, and it was disclosed that the owner had died by suicide, but it was never clear what had happened, how he took his life. It was never clear.

Jon Lafferty:
This condo had been on the market for must’ve been six or nine months. It was being sold through probate because he had no will, and so they determined that a family member was going to oversee and receive some of the proceeds. So in steps my buyer and decides that they are interested in it because it’s an incredible deal. It’s like $90,000 under anything else in there.

Jon Lafferty:
Now, mind you, all the people had done in that place where he had taken his life was replaced the carpet, that’s it. So on the wall you could still see the outline of some bodily fluids that had-

Tony Abate:
Oh, man.

Jon Lafferty:
… discolored that wall. So anyways-

Tony Abate:
They were going to paint anyway, right?

Jon Lafferty:
Right. That was the idea. So my client had said, “Well, you know what, animals, dogs and cats are very perceptive to spirits or things that are in a home, so I’m going to take my two dogs when we go back there for the inspection, and walk them through the home, and we’re going to stay there a while and just see if they have any weird reactions or flip out or anything.”

Jon Lafferty:
So we were there for probably an hour and a half. Nothing. They were fine. There was nothing happening. So, go through the purchase, close. I probably don’t see this client for a year, run into them at a bar where they are a server, and say, “Hey, how’s it going? How do you like living in the condo?” and they say to me, “You know, I do like living there, but there’s just strange stuff that happens that I just can’t explain.”

Jon Lafferty:
I said, “Well, for instance, like what?” They pulled up the sleeve on their arms and said, “I wake up some mornings and I have these scratches on my wrist, going up to my forearm. I can’t explain how they get there. I just wake up from sleeping and they’re just there on both wrists.”

Tony Abate:
This is your buyer?

Jon Lafferty:
This is my buyer telling me this. I said, “That’s really strange,” and they said to me, “Oh, you know what? I was talking to some of the neighbors, and they told me that how the previous owner killed themselves was they cut their wrists.”

Tony Abate:
Good Lord, and she continued-

Jon Lafferty:
… and, to me, I’m like-

Marc Edelstein:
Let’s get this thing on the market.

Jon Lafferty:
“Well, that is really weird now that you’ve got those scratches on your wrist.”

Marc Edelstein:
Time to get the hell out of there.

Tony Abate:
But she was still living there, and just kind of-

Jon Lafferty:
Still continued to live there, and just, it was what it was.

Tony Abate:
“What an irony, I wake up with these … ” Good gravy. Man. No, thank you. See, I couldn’t do what you do, and I’m probably going to lose my man card about this whole thing, but-

Jon Lafferty:
It’s already been pulled.

Tony Abate:
Damn, I knew … When you go into a house the first time, do you ever have to deal with the creepy basement syndrome? I mean, are you ever with clients and you’re thinking, “You know what, I’m going to let them go down first. This one just looks to be a little too Blair Witch to me”?

Jon Lafferty:
Well, there certainly are homes, especially the older ones, where they have the Michigan basement, where they have the five foot ceiling or the six foot ceiling, so I’m already hunched over, and then add to that a dirt floor, which some of them have. Now I’m really not in a happy space because I’m bent over, I’m walking around this basement, usually picking up cobwebs with my head as I’m walking around. I’m not a happy camper.

Jon Lafferty:
But yeah, there are certain places that you walk in and, especially in these older homes, they have those old coal rooms where they used to store the coal. Those rooms are typically closed and they’re concrete rooms because they had that coal in there, and you just open that up and sometimes it’s just a weird feeling you get coming out of that door as you open it up, like, “Whoa, what just came out of here, because this was closed.”

Tony Abate:
No, thanks.

Jon Lafferty:
So, yeah, some interesting, weird doors. Like, there was this home one time, where we’re showing this home, and in the middle of the living room floor, is a trapdoor that you open up and it’s a box. It’s like a five foot by three foot, in-the-floor box.

Tony Abate:
About the size to hold a body, it sounds like.

Jon Lafferty:
The size to hold a body, or you could put somebody in there to punish them.

Tony Abate:
Oh, my gosh.

Jon Lafferty:
And then there was a latch on top that you could latch it.

Tony Abate:
Holy cow.

Jon Lafferty:
I saw that and said, “Man, somebody crazy was living here.”

Tony Abate:
Yeah, wow. Oh, man. Older house, I take it?

Jon Lafferty:
Seventies.

Tony Abate:
Really? Had to be a retrofit. I don’t think the builder put that …

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah, that was a retrofit.

Tony Abate:
Wow. Wow. Yeah, I couldn’t do that. I mean, that’s … You’ve seen my house. I live in an old, old house, and, confession here, so one of the first times my family walked through, they all headed for the basement, not me. I stayed up. Just, let me know how it is down there and then maybe I’ll come down and take a peek, because that is just not my comfort zone.

Jon Lafferty:
I’ve had plenty of clients who will not go down in the basement. One will come down with me and say, “Oh, yeah, it looks good down here. It’s fine.” “Yeah, I’m not coming down.” “No, really, it’s fine down here.” “Yeah, I’m not coming down.”

Tony Abate:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, going back to the transaction that you were talking about, I mean, you said it was a HUD home, so the appraisal was already there.

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah.

Tony Abate:
Any mention as to the crime in the appraisal?

Marc Edelstein:
No, no mention. As a matter of fact, the buyer found out at the home inspection because they spoke to a neighbor.

Tony Abate:
Wow. Interesting.

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah, and that’s how they found out.

Jon Lafferty:
Remember the 1969 murders? So the house was on … It’s the Manson murders of the, you know, the famous people.

Tony Abate:
Right.

Jon Lafferty:
So there was always a fascination with that house. People driving by it, stopping, taking pictures of it, and so at some point they had to bulldoze it. I can’t remember who did it, but they said that there was just a lot of bad stuff associated with that house. Just a lot of … You couldn’t walk into that home and not feel just dread and-

Tony Abate:
Sure.

Jon Lafferty:
… certain things, so they bulldozed that house.

Tony Abate:
Wow. Wow.

Jon Lafferty:
Took it out of commission. This isn’t scary, but I was helping a friend of mine buy a town home years ago, like in ’08, ’09, during the whole downturn and, you know, so-

Tony Abate:
Well, that part’s scary.

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah, well, it was scary for a lot of people. So this person owned this town home and they became delinquent, and cops showed up to serve them, to say you’ve got to get out, and so he decided to hide in the house, wouldn’t answer the door. So the cops broke down the door, came in the house, couldn’t find him. They realized, “Oh, man, he’s up in the attic.”

Tony Abate:
Okay.

Jon Lafferty:
They could hear him, his kind of creaking. So I don’t know what they grabbed, but they hit the drywall and down he came.

Tony Abate:
No.

Jon Lafferty:
So when we were looking at it to buy this house, there was just this giant hole in the ceiling in the master bedroom. We couldn’t figure out why that hole was there, and then talked to a neighbor, God, neighbors know everything-

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah.

Tony Abate:
Yeah, they do. They do.

Jon Lafferty:
… talked to the neighbor, and the neighbor says, “Oh, no, no. He was hiding in the attic. Cops came up there, bam, down he came, arrested him, took him out, took him to jail.”

Tony Abate:
Oh, man. Crazy.

Jon Lafferty:
So stuff like that, it’s always interesting to get the backstory of things.

Marc Edelstein:
What about a home owned by a hoarder. Ever been in a …

Jon Lafferty:
Oh, yeah.

Tony Abate:
Hoarders? Yeah. Okay.

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah, I-

Jon Lafferty:
You know what? I never knew there was such a thing as a neat hoarder, but-

Marc Edelstein:
That’s a thing?

Jon Lafferty:
… this person was neat. Yeah. They warned me before I came over, they said, we’re just going to let you know we’re hoarders.

Marc Edelstein:
So this was a listing appointment?

Jon Lafferty:
This was a listing appointment, “We’re hoarders.” I said, “Okay.” “We just want to let you know, we have stuff everywhere.” I said, “Okay, I appreciate that.” So I know what I’m walking into, not a big deal. But I walked in and every stack on that first floor was neatly stacked, and now granted, there were pathways to get to each stack, to get to each room, but it was every single room.

Jon Lafferty:
This was a 2000 square foot house, two story. You walked in, every single room was packed with pathways, the kitchen, the family room, the living room, every bedroom upstairs, the basement, loaded with stuff. But it was neat and clean and they had cats too. I didn’t understand how they did it. I figured what they must’ve done is just take a stack, move it over here, clean, and then move it back. That’s the only thing that made sense because it was the cleanest hoarders house I’ve ever been in in my life.

Tony Abate:
Did it sell?

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah.

Jon Lafferty:
It did sell, but they had to get everything out.

Marc Edelstein:
Oh, man.

Jon Lafferty:
It was the only way to sell it.

Tony Abate:
Yeah. Yeah. Wow.

Jon Lafferty:
And there was a lot of stuff.

Marc Edelstein:
You needed a dumpster, like a 30 yard dumpster.

Jon Lafferty:
Have you ever tried to take something and throw it out from a hoarder? It’s damn near impossible. They love everything that’s in there.

Tony Abate:
Everything’s got a story, right? Yeah.

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah, everything has … every article, every old clipping that they saved, every document, and, well, I’m not going to say what this person did because that … no need to do that. But anyways, it was surprising to me to find out what their former profession was and that they were hoarders.

Tony Abate:
Wow. Interesting. Interesting.

Marc Edelstein:
So you’ve come across that a lot.

Tony Abate:
Good Halloweeny stuff.

Jon Lafferty:
And that was scary, too.

Tony Abate:
For sure. But at least they were neat, so …

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah.

Tony Abate:
Yeah, they had that going for them.

Marc Edelstein:
Well, you were telling me in Michigan that if there’s a crime committed in that house, you’re not required as the owner to disclose that on the seller’s disclosure-

Jon Lafferty:
That’s true.

Marc Edelstein:
… that needs to be completed. I guess if somebody asks, you have to answer, right? Truthfully.

Jon Lafferty:
Absolutely. If you’re asked point blank if somebody’s died in the home, if somebody was murdered in the home, you have to disclose that if you’re asked, if you have knowledge of it.

Tony Abate:
If asked.

Jon Lafferty:
If asked.

Tony Abate:
How many people ask?

Jon Lafferty:
Well, usually buyers will poke around, and sometimes you get a sense when you walk into a house that maybe it’s a little dated, and maybe you can tell the carpet’s older, it’s shag, and maybe there’s a hospital bed in one room, or maybe there’s a bunch of older items. So the question becomes, “Kind of looks like an older person was living here.” “Yeah.” “Hey, maybe, could you ask the listing agent if the home owner died in the home, and if so, maybe what they died of? Was it just, was it cancer? Was it, you know, just so we know.”

Jon Lafferty:
So people do ask that, but sometimes they don’t care. They just don’t care. It doesn’t bother them. I think it’s a little bit cultural too, because some cultures view a death in a home more severely than maybe others do.

Tony Abate:
Okay.

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah.

Tony Abate:
It’s a good point, yeah. Wow, that’s interesting. I’m sleeping with the lights on regardless tonight, so it’s …

Jon Lafferty:
And your helmet?

Tony Abate:
And my helmet, baseball bat in hand, ready to go. Garlic, the whole nine yards. Yeah.

Jon Lafferty:
This was fun.

Tony Abate:
Yeah, good-

Jon Lafferty:
Glad we had a chance to talk about this.

Tony Abate:
Good Halloweeny stuff. Marc, thanks for sitting in.

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah, absolutely.

Jon Lafferty:
Yeah, thanks for sticking around.

Marc Edelstein:
Thanks for asking me.

Jon Lafferty:
Appreciate that.

Tony Abate:
Absolutely.

Marc Edelstein:
Yeah.

Tony Abate:
Going out? Okay. Hey, thanks for listening to Avoiding Real Estate Turbulence. If you’d be so kind to subscribe, review, rate, we’d appreciate it. Please share with your friends, family, and coworkers that they too can find us on Facebook and avoidingret.com, where you’ll find our contact information and every episode of our podcast. You can also find us on Apple podcast, Google podcast, and Spotify.

Marc Edelstein
(248) 379-6749
thatmortgagebanker.com