Here’s a Surefire Way to Kill the Vibes While Selling a House, According to a Home Inspector
In his seven years as a home inspector in northern California, AJ Cross has visited roughly 1,300 homes of all shapes, sizes, and styles. During that time, he’s come across a few home features that were, to put it mildly, a bit strange.
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A recent inspection he did at a “pretty trippy little house” that had been vacant for more than a year may just take the cake for weirdness, he says. When he pressed the home’s doorbell to test its functionality, it produced an eerie, otherworldly song that sounds like something out of a horror movie.
When he realized just how creepy the sound was, he whipped out his phone and started recording, all the while walking slowly down the home’s empty entrance hallway. He texted the video to his wife, with a witty comment about being in “The Shining.”
His wife, of course, loved the video, so Cross decided to make a TikTok account and share it there. For the caption, he wrote: “The first recommendation in the report will be, change the doorbell!”
The quick snippet immediately took off, amassing 2.7 million views.
“It exploded overnight and people were like, ‘Keep it! Get rid of it! Don’t get rid of it!’” he says.
If you listen closely, the disconcerting song is actually a slowed-down, off-key version of a common melody called the “Westminster Quarters,” which is often played at clocktowers, palaces, and churches to mark the time.
When the home’s prospective buyers arrived for the customary post-inspection wrap-up/walk-through, Cross decided to have a little fun with them, too. When they arrived, he said, “Welcome to your new home!” and rang the doorbell.
The new owners were so freaked out by the sound they “almost didn’t want to go in the house,” Cross says.
The home wasn’t actually haunted or possessed. The cause of such an unsettling sound? Nearly dead batteries.
“It’s an electronic doorbell that was on the verge of dying,” Cross says.
The doorbell is a prime example of why a home inspector is your best friend during the homebuying process. They don’t miss a thing — even seemingly insignificant things like batteries that need to be replaced in the doorbell.
“It’s just a testament to what home inspectors do — my catchphrase is ‘inspect the uninspected,’” says Cross. “Home inspectors are seeing things and going places that you, as a homeowner, probably will never go. It’s just one of the details that a home inspector will find.”
The doorbell isn’t the only home feature with the potential to make your hair stand on end, however. A good home inspector will also thoroughly explore the crawl space under the home — for many reasons, one of them being to look for the remains of dead animals.
“I’ve seen raccoons, foxes, opossums, and cats that have passed away under the house and the homeowners don’t even know,” says Cross.
Of course, a home inspection typically only happens once — right before you buy the house — so, as a rule of thumb, Cross recommends that homeowners venture down into their own crawl spaces twice a year, just to check things out. He also advises making sure the crawl space is sealed to prevent animals from getting in in the first place.
The attic can also be full of frightening sights, from vintage religious statues covered in cobwebs to critters like bats and squirrels. Bats, in particular, are extremely difficult to remove, so it’s a good idea to ensure all gable vents have screens and that all soffit vents are covered, Cross says.
You may hear some spooky sounds when you turn on several sources of water in a home at the same time. That, too, has a logical explanation: Low water pressure.
“If you run the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, the shower, and flush the toilets, sometimes you can get a big drop in pressure and the pipes start to vibrate, especially in older homes, and that’s when you get really eerie-sounding, haunted house-type stuff,” says Cross. “If there are vibrating pipes, they can freak people out if they don’t know what they’re hearing.”