Real estate


Was my house cursed?

Edwina White for The Boston Globe

The center-entrance brick-front Sudbury Colonial with the circular drive was suspiciously grander than our pocketbook. It was also, after months of searching, the first home my husband and I both liked.

“That can’t be the right price,” I said awed by the two-story marble-tiled foyer with the curved staircase.

“It’s bank owned,” our realtor said, her voice an echo in the vacant room. “They probably want to unload it before winter.” My husband and I admired the cathedral ceiling in the kitchen while our realtor contacted the listing broker. The realtor “has a brain tumor,” she said. “That’s why there’s no sign out front.” We all agreed how sad it was for her but how lucky it was for us there was no sign.


The next day our realtor told us the house had been sold at auction months before, but the buyer had backed out. A conversation with a neighbor uncovered that the former owners had way overpaid when they’d built the house, and when their divorce got messy, it was cheaper to let the bank take it.

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That’s a lot of bad luck, my husband and I agreed. But good luck for us, right? I’ve never been superstitious but started to wonder. What, exactly, was wrong with the house we’d fallen in love with? We submitted a lowball bid, which the realtor said the bank would surely reject. After minimal back and forth, we got it for way below the already twice-lowered original price. Our realtor claimed never to have seen a better deal.

We owned the house, but I worried. Had we missed a malevolent spirit others had seen? Poltergeist visions of flying furniture haunted me, but my husband and I reassured each other: The house was not cursed; we were just lucky, and, besides, spooks or not, it was ours. The inspection went off without a hitch. Our closing date was in November 1994.

After Halloween I checked on the house. Toilet paper festooned the trees, and “Don’t move in” was written in shaving cream on the front door. Probably annoyed trick-or-treaters. Silly kid stuff, we decided. Evil forces wouldn’t use something you could wash away with a hose. The day before we closed I stopped by and found “Go away” emblazoned in foot-high, green spray-painted capital letters on a large rock near the front door.

Were my husband and I spending all of our money on an “Amityville Horror” house? A messy divorce, a foreclosure, a dropped sale, a realtor with a brain tumor, a bank seemingly eager to sell it way below market value. What did they know that we didn’t? We ignored irrational concerns of blood-oozing walls and hall-roaming apparitions. The house was only 10 years old, so how haunted could it be? We had the spray paint sandblasted to oblivion before we moved in.


The next Halloween brought only knee-high giggling ghosts with plastic pumpkin baskets.

Our family grew and filled the bedrooms, but 10 years later we left. We weren’t chased away by spectral visions or unexplained things that went bump in the night. Turns out, in New England the only thing scarier than a possibly paranormal domicile are the triple-digit monthly oil bills of a poorly insulated 3,200-square-foot home.

Deborah Norkin, a writer who prefers her spirits in bottles, lives in Sudbury. Send comments to and a 550-word essay on your first home to Please note: We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.