Monthly Archives: July 2007

Photos and Healthy Skepticism

Ever get an orb (a ball of light) in a photo you’ve taken? It is possible that it is the result of dust (light hitting it), or a reflection of some kind in the lens. I would not presume that every orb is a sign of a ghost.

But it could be.

In my own experience, I’ve had orbs show up most often in places known to be haunted (e.g., San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House – I had one pic with perhaps a dozen or two dozen orbs in a place that felt haunted to me). I’ve also had a lot of orbs show up during family gatherings, particularly when there were many children present. I see that and think, “of course, they wouldn’t have missed a party when they were alive – why miss one now?”

In looking at photos of ghosts (or purported ones) on the web, I found a site that I particularly liked because of the healthy skepticism the author has, the comments on the photos and what could or likely would not be an explanation, and even the listing of the sources of information (emails from the photographers themselves). So if you’re interested in ghost pics, I would recommend that you take a look at “Ghosts and Apparitions“, a free geocities site that appears to be affiliated with The Shadowlands.

What is a ghost?

What is a ghost? It is simply a discarnate human being (a person without a body), one who’s already lived and died but experienced here on earth. Some folks think of the word as meaning any non-physical being (angels and demons), but that is not correct (Wikipedia discusses the controversy over the word as well as some interesting history surrounding it). All ghosts were once human, with a human body.

Most of the time when we think of ghosts, we’re thinking of seeing someone who’s earthbound. Most likely, if you see or experience a deceased loved one, that won’t be the case at all. Sometimes there’s closure just after death – a wave goodbye, a reassurance that the loved one isn’t really gone … entirely. After awhile, these goodbyes end and the dearly departed does really depart.

Some who have crossed over, and are not earthbound, return to help, to check in on us. These souls are not stuck here. They are simply helpful visitors. I would not call them ghosts but spirit visitors. No matter what they are called, their situation is not the same as those who have not crossed over after death.

Not a ghost: Another thing that can happen is an energy imprint, kind of like a flashback, or a record of history that keeps replaying itself in a loop. In this case, people may witness a reenactment of something that happened in the past. It’s as if the energy of the event was so powerful that it’s somehow stuck in that area (whether a home, a ship, a road, etc.). These historic imprints are not ghosts – that is, they are not beings with whom you could converse. It’s more like a movie that just keeps replaying.

Some folks contend that all ghosts are these imprints. I don’t believe that’s true because many times, these spirit people (ghosts) can be conversed with and helped to leave (hopefully to cross over). If the experience is of a sentient being, this is not an imprint.

In March, I wrote an article for Real Town on ghosts & residential real estate. If you’d like more on the basics of what a ghost is or isn’t, when you are most likely to experience a ghost, and what to do about it, please take a look at my article there:
Haunted Real Estate: A Primer for Real Estate Agents

You Tube and Ghosts

On a lark, I looked at YouTube to see if anyone had posted ghost encounters – with film. I wasn’t disappointed! (There were, of course, a lot of comedic posts that did not have any intention of showing real ghosts, of course – so I had to wade through a lot of garbage to find the good ones. Here are the better ones (imho):

Vatican Ghost:

And here’s a nine minute long one on Haunted Hotels (opening shot is San Jose’s Winchester House, mostly on a ghost of the Hotel Del Coronado near San Diego). This discusses the site of hauntings more than showing them:

Jeffrey Wands on Thursday’s Maury Show

Does the house creak or does it have ghosts? What do the tape recordings reveal? This Thursday’s MAURY show features residents of a home believed to be haunted and input from the talented author and psychic, Jeffrey Wants.  Read Thursday’s preview here, then set your VCRs to record the show!

Why a blog on Haunted Real Estate?

Haunted and stigmatized properties fascinate the American population. Some of it may be the movies we all grew up with, the stories told by campfires, the fears that kids have in the dark. Or it may be something more – a hunch we once had, or an experience that happened to us, perhaps one we wouldn’t share with too many people. . . unless we were sure that they’d believe us first and not think us crazy.

Whatever the case, about half the population here in the U.S. believes in ghosts. A few years back, I added a page on one of my real estate websites: Haunted Real Estate. The response was incredible and over time, it has grown so much that soon I’ll be expanding it into a site of its own.

Realtors are in and out of homes all the time, and most of us get a sense that some homes feel happy or sad, tense or nurturing. People who would not claim to be psychic or intuitive can walk through a place and get a sense of it having a particular “vibe”. But others not only get an impression of the overall energy of a home, they get a bit more.

That’s what happens to me. I’m somewhat intuitive (unfortunately at unpredictable times) and sometimes go into a home or store and get a feeling about what has gone on there. Once a girlfriend and I walked through an estate on a Realtor’s tour and we both felt, strongly, that something bad had to have happened there. A few days later, we learned that it was the site of a murder. 

That’s one of the events that got me collecting ghost stories and related things at After awhile, total strangers started telling me their stories and wanted to hear mine. And eventually it was other real estate professionals sharing amazing tales with me too.
Monterey, CA, Ghost Tour (photo by MPH)Photo from Monterey, CA, ghost tour (photo by MPH)Why a blog on haunted real estate? Recently my forays with webmarketing for real estate have led me into blogging. Writing is fun for me and I’m a believer in following your passions with your work as much as possible – so when I was invited to be a participant and contestant in Project Blogger (which is now in the 14th and final week), it didn’t take me long to say yes. My mentor and coach for this project , Frances Flynn Thorsen, asked if I wanted to do a Haunted Real Estate blog and encouaged me to consider doing one. I wasn’t ready then, but did write an article for Real Town (an online real estate community, of which she is the general manager) about this hobby of mine and our work as real estate agents – Haunted Real Estate: A Primer for Real Estate Agents. On my webpage, I just collected stories and links. With this article, I was writing about ghosts and real estate in an article of my own. For the contest, I developed a blog about my town in Silicon Valley, Los Gatos (Live in Los Gatos). I did post a few entries on my town’s haunted places and again, I got a great response on these in particular.

So the contest is winding down and I’m ready to introduce a haunted real estate blog now. My hope is that in addition to adding content here myself, I will get others to post their experiences here too. In the last two weeks, two of the other 12 apprentices working away at Project Blogger each posted entries involving their own stories with ghosts.  Tisza Major-Posner wrote “A Ghost Post Mostly for Mary Or What I Did On My Summer Vacation” about her recent trip to Virginia City, Nevada. And Jackie Colson-Miller queried, “Haunted Houses…What Should An Agent Disclose?” I have a feeling that real estate blogging generally will never be the same since I introduced the angle of haunted houses to the platform on Active Rain!

So this is the launch of Haunted Real Estate Blog. I am looking forward to the interaction from many good folks, especially those connected with the real estate industry.  Today is my first time working with wordpress (of which I’ve heard many good things), and I’m knee deep in a learning curve and I ask your indulgence as I figure out formatting and such. Today’s initial attempts to both upload images and align them did not go so well. (I guess I should read the directions.) And that is one disappearing act I won’t blame on an unseen spirit…. Luckily, I have my own in house tech support: my 17 year old son who’s a computer whiz. So the blog’s starting as a collaborative effort and my hope is that it will remain that way. Please add your stories and comments. I’m looking forward to reading them!

Hello world!

Welcome to my Haunted Real Estate Blog! If you are looking for more information on haunted and stigmatized properties, please also visit my webpage: Your suggestions and stories are invited and welcomed!

Welcome Note!

Welcome to the Haunted Real Estate Blog. If you'd like to share a story, please email me, Mary Pope-Handy:
Since I get a lot of spam, please be sure to write something in the subject line that references what the email is about. Thanks!

Alternatively, you can send me snail mail here:

Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030

Or phone me at
408 204-7673
(please, no sales calls).
DRE # 01153805

Stories shared &
opinions are mine
and do not necessarily
reflect those of
Sereno Group.