Hauntings Are A Nuisance For Realtors

"A year after we moved in, we were invaded whilst away by a family of teenage foxes via the catflap. My PA found one lolling on the quilt in my bedroom. The carpets were ruined and the builders moved in to sand down all the floors.

"That night an elderly woman in a dressing gown appeared by my bed at 4am looking utterly disapproving. She did this for a week until a medium told me to say quite firmly 'It's not polite to wake people up at night ' after which she disappeared".

The Furnivals also have "a couple of mischievous cellar ghosts, who are probably quite bored. They used to mess with central heating. My husband saw the dials turning back and forth. I have to be quite respectful of them".

In their previous house she had a grumpy old man ghost who hated change and threw a coathanger at the decorator. She had the house exorcised before she sold it.

"I got the local vicar in - after much persuasion. He thought I should have had the priest since I'm Catholic but the grumpy old man was Cof E, so the Vicar was the exorcist of choice. And it worked".

Inspired by her experiences, Jane, an author on domestic finance, is now writing a Ghost Spotter's Guide. When it comes to selling a house, haunted properties are more of a headache for agents than vicars.

"It's not like a problem with the roof because it depends on personal feelings," says Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive of the National Association of Estate Agents.

"However, if there is documentation about a haunting there's no point in hiding it. Although I wouldn't put it in the particulars, I'd have a word with the potential purchaser - with the vendor's agreement".

In 1995 a Derbyshire couple refused to complete on a house they'd bought since the agents had not disclosed the existence of a 'pig-faced boy with fiery red eyes'. The agents sued and the couple lost.

Nowadays with HIPs in place, would a vendor have to reveal all?

"Home Information Packs cover a range of issues," says John Vaughan of Savills estate agency, "but ghosts aren't one of them".

John himself had a poltergeist in a farmhouse he once owned in the Vale of Aeron.

"It was forever moving things around. You'd put a glass down on the table, look away, then reach for it and it would be somewhere else. It seemed to dislike men: male visitors would put their shirts in a drawer then find them on a chair. When we had the house re-plumbed the workmen complained of constantly having to look for their tools. Curiously, women always felt very comfortable there."

Charlotte Morgan also had a spirit which made men feel uncomfortable. Wynters Armourie, near Ongar, Essex, is a moated medieval hall house with 16th century add-ons and a couple of mummified cats the previous owners had found in the walls - one even had a rat in its mouth.

"It was a medieval practice to ward off evil spirits", says Charlotte. "They were going to give them to a museum but we said 'no cats, no sale'"

The ghost she lived with, however was "not evil, just confused. He was a Cavalier murdered by a turncoat on his own side. We used to hear him stomping up and down the back corridor. A friend of mine was a 6' 4" boxer who hated the corridor. He said it felt like iced water running down his neck. I'd also hear people talking in the dining room but there was never anyone there".

Charlotte Morgan felt quite happy with her Cavalier but her friends weren't. She called in Terry O'Sullivan of Soul Rescuers (see below) two years ago.

"You often find earthbound spirits and negative energy trapped by water," says Terry, who helped the spirit move on.

"Now that he's gone, I really miss him," admits Charlotte.

Most of Terry O'Sullivan's property work involves checking out homes for new owners or sorting problem atmospheres that have built up over time. He finds the attitude of estate agents to properties that aren't selling difficult to understand.

"Where there's no obvious reason, such as over-pricing, it suggests the house itself has a problem. I don't know why they don't get people like us in to deal with it," he says.

"Ironically, I've worked for the heads of a number of big estate agencies, clearing their own homes."

Debbie DeVito has been a clairvoyant counsellor for the last 20 years and is a Christian Spiritualist minister. She also specialises in 'clearing' houses. In spring this year she was called to a house in a village near Maidstone, Kent by the owner who was hoping to emigrate.

"The house was 400 years old and had been on the market for nine months", says Debbie.

"It had a very negative feel. I began in the attic and was immediately aware of the spirit of a little boy, about 8 years old, who had died of TB, in the 1600s. I helped him move on, and the negative energy dissolved. As I usually do, I replaced it with positive energy, blessed and sealed the house - and garden. Four weeks later the owner rang to say she had a sale and it was all going through".

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