- Episode 18 -
It was Saturday, October 29, 2011.
It was a perfect fall morning in South Florida – no humidity, crisp air, bright sunshine and the bluest sky you could ever imagine. I was meeting my buyers, who I had been working with for a few weeks, at a home that just got listed the night before, in the neighborhood that they wanted.
I arrived early to open up the property since the listing agent told me that no one had lived in the home for nearly a year. When I opened the front door I thought it was strange that the house was very dark, yet none of the windows had blinds or curtains on them, and even the three sets of sliding doors that led to the pool and backyard let no light into the rooms. Of course, the power was off, making it even darker to see as I made my way through the home to scope it out for my buyers.
As I entered the kitchen, it was as if the people who lived there got disrupted, and basically picked themselves up and left in a hurry. There were wine glasses half drunk and plates that looked like they just finished dinner, yet no bugs had found the crumbs left behind. There was a nametag on the counter as if someone removed it after a long day at work. On the side table, was a shopping list with coupons that had expired and other bills that needed to be paid a year earlier.
I stood and stared for the longest time at the child’s drawings on the refrigerator – all signed by “Danny”. I continued on, and as I walked through each room I noticed boxes filled with mementos scattered throughout – many of them had family photos in them, while others had documents like tax records and bank statements. I then came upon a little boy’s room, painted blue with borders of cars and trucks on it. In the center of the room were boxes of trophies, for all sorts of sports, and accolades for school achievements, in the names of “Danny” and “Jeffrey”.
At that moment, I heard a car and figured it was my buyers. I met the couple along with their 6-year-old daughter, Casey, and her grandmother in the driveway. As always, Casey was anxious to select “her room”, as she normally did with all the previous homes we previewed, but as we walked up the path to the front door, Casey stopped abruptly and grabbed her dad’s hand. She then said, “this house is sad daddy.”
The four of us stopped dead in our tracks and looked at each other.
Her father asked her why it was sad. She said, “it’s been crying,” then shrugged it off and continued to enter the home without missing a beat.
With anxiety levels a bit high at this point, we followed.
After nearly an hour in the home, commenting on everything that was left behind, but liking the layout, measuring the rooms and figuring how it could work for their family, the buyers wanted to submit an offer. Before the thought of doing so was complete, Casey entered the room holding a newspaper clipping, which she handed to her dad. She said she found it in the box of toys that was in the “little boys room”, and as her dad reached for the article his face turned stark white.
There was the headline: “Local Family Mourns Sons’ Tragic Deaths.”
The story told of a family, this family, whose names appeared on all the unopened mail on the counter. It told of a fiery car accident where a neighbor was driving a bunch of boys back from sports camp. The car spun out of control on a wet highway, flipped and exploded on impact, killing the driver and the four young boys in the car – including “Danny age 6, and Jeffrey age 9”. The article was dated October 29th, 2010.
The silence in the home at this point was deafening. We were at a loss for words, yet had so many questions. Was that why the house looked as if everyone left in a hurry? Perhaps taking the trophies belonging to Danny and Jeffrey was too painful so they left them behind? Maybe their lives just stopped on this very date one year ago?
What seemed like an eternity as we stood there in silence was quickly brought back to realty with the warmth of sunshine that was now billowing in every window. A home that was so dark minutes earlier turned bright as if someone turned on all the lights. And the chill that filled the morning air was quickly replaced with a warm, calming feeling. We stood in disbelief as Casey once again entered the room. She walked right up to her dad, took his hand and said “Daddy the house is happy again.”
Over the course over the next few weeks we tried to find out everything we could about the family who once lived there. When we returned for the inspection a week after our “encounter”, we were met by the listing agent, who knew very little about the previous homeowners. She was amazed to hear what we experienced. In Florida, unlike other states, it isn’t required of sellers to disclose traumatic events like murders or suicides or report any paranormal activity that is experienced in a property. But nothing was ever mentioned to the listing agent about any of the circumstances surrounding the previous owners or what had happened.
When we entered the home for the inspection, all of the belongings that were there a week earlier were gone. The house was clean and bright, without any reminders of the former owners. The buyers quickly asked where the items were because they really wanted to return them to sellers, but the listing agent had no idea what we were talking about. She said this was the way the home looked when she listed it, and other than a few agents who showed the home after us, no one had been in it. The sellers lived out of state and had no family here. She then showed us pictures that she took when she did the listing the day before we first saw the home - it was empty, no boxes or trophies anywhere and no drawings on the refrigerator from a little boy that once called this place home.
It’s been nearly three years since the buyers moved into the home and there isn’t a time that we see each other that we don’t talk about what happened to all of us on that day in 2011.
They have shared pictures of fun times, with family and friends, and each time I see the photos the home is as bright as can be. And the term coined by Casey of a sad home that had been crying was the furthest from the laughter and joy that this home now portrays.
What we experienced that day no one knows.
The only thing we do know is that the house where Danny and Jeffrey once lived is happy again.
Kay Conageski is a professional Realtor® with The Keyes Company based in Plantation, Florida. Check out her RESAAS profile ›