Written by Erik Gunther on realtor.com.
A Reddit user with the handle of moosemusick posted a link to a photo of a home in Georgia with the innocuous title of “Found on Realtor.com in Evans, Ga.” The photo appears rather mundane at first glance. It’s a living room with a quaint brick fireplace.
It’s a ghost!
A ghost who appears to be looking up from his/her/its smartphone…
“It’s me,” said listing agent Nancy Whitford. “And it’s not a ghost.”
Whitford was a bit taken aback when we reached out to her for comment, but she soon laughed it off and explained the curious circumstance.
When she uploads the photos to her listings, they’re thumbnail-size, so she’s hard-pressed to spot any evidence of celestial beings crossing over.
“The room was dark, and we had the shutter speed slow,” Whitford said. “Maybe I walked into the frame. I was probably running around.”
Her son takes photos of the homes she lists, and they both take pride in snapping quality photos.
“We really work on it,” she said. “We’re very detailed about photography. I think nice-looking photos are a huge factor for any home. The first thing anyone sees of your listing are the photos.”
She laughed and added, “Personally, I’m not a believer in ghosts. But people do have active imaginations. I wonder how it happened.”
To answer that question, we turned to real estate photographer Matt Edington,who spends his days snapping photos of the Seattle area’s most prestigious properties.
After dispensing with a few ectoplasm jokes, Edington explained how the supernatural snap came to be.
“Photographers take multiple exposures of the same shot at different shutter speeds in order to capture both the highlights (i.e., what’s out the windows) and the shadows in a scene,” he said. “If a person or object is in one of those exposures but is then removed in the others, it will create a blend of the image where the person or object is only partially shown. We call this ‘ghosting,’ because it gives the person or object a transparentlike look.”
For laymen like us, he said it’s like taking two identical photos—one with a person and one without. If you layer the photos on top of each other, but make the top photo just a little transparent, the person will appear as an apparition.
Edington told us he takes care to make sure things (or beings) don’t move while he’s shooting. But sometimes it’s unavoidable—in his case, it’s usually a homeowner’s pet that appears otherworldly in a few of his shots.
He also dispensed a few pro tips for anyone who wants to create standout images of their home. He recommends a tripod and a strobe light to even out the shadows and highlights of a photo. His No. 1 tip for nonprofessionals (other than hiring a pro!): Take your photos at the right time of day. You want to avoid dark, dreary days, but you also need to watch out for direct sunlight streaming through the windows.
One thing Edington and Whitford agree on is the importance of great photos for a listing.
“Photos are the first impression and the last impression. I think they’re the most important aspect of marketing a home, period. People are less likely to visit a listing if they’re not inspired by the photos,” Edington said.
We’re sorry to report that even if her photos inspired you to visit Whitford’s “haunted” listing, it’s too late. The home has a buyer lined up and is currently in pending status.
We asked Whitford if any sort of special disclosure was now required.
“I promise I have not haunted that house,” Whitford said.