Murder and Real-Estate

Mr. Fab had a post the other day talking about whether he would purchase a home knowing someone was murdered there. It got me thinking that it would make for an interesting post over here at DS. I went on Google and actually found this article I thought I’d share with everyone. So, would any of you buy a home knowing a crime or murder had taken place there? Let me know in the comments!


Stigma of crime clings to property
Appraiser says taint of scandal, homicide lasts at least two years

From Staff and Wire reports Sep 2, 2006

CHICAGO There it sits, without embellishment, on 749 15th St. in Boulder, Colo.

The eventual buyer of this $1.7 million Tudor-style manse will get a lovely mountain view — that is, if he could see past the hordes of TV reporters milling about on the lawn. This is the house where JonBenet Ramsey was slain in 1996, and in recent weeks the place became a media zoo again.

There has been no one to shoo away the reporters because the now-famous home is unoccupied. The house has been sold a couple of times since the Ramseys moved to Atlanta in 1997. The current owners, who have moved to California, bought it in 2004 for about $1 million, according to reports.

The Ramsey house is what’s known in the real estate business as a “stigmatized property,” one tainted by anything from mere scandal to grisly murder to occupation by poltergeists.

It’s a tricky area in real estate law because a stigma is a “psychological impact” of an event and difficult to quantify.

Some states require sellers to disclose certain stigmas associated with the property.

In Virginia, neither the seller nor the agent is obligated to disclose facts or occurrences that have no effect on the structure. That would include a homicide, felony or suicide.

Until the recent uproar over John Mark Karr’s confession that he had killed JonBenet (later contradicted by DNA evidence), the Ramsey house probably was well on its way to overcoming its taint, according to Randall Bell, a California appraiser who specializes in stigmatized properties. He has appraised many crime scenes, such as the condominium where Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were killed in 1994. He also appraised the Ramsey home when the couple prepared to sell it and move to Atlanta.

“Typically, crime-scene stigma lasts a minimum of two years, or as much as five to seven years,” Bell said. “Then it’s pretty much forgotten about,” at least as far as the crime affecting the value.

Wes Atiyeh, president of the Richmond Association of Realtors, agreed. “Over time, it will be overcome,” he said.

The house, where the Harvey family was murdered on New Year’s Day, is in a neighborhood where the houses are still selling, he said. The house, on 31st Street in South Richmond, is still listed in Bryan and Kathryn Harvey’s name.

But the Ramsey house is a different matter now, Bell said. “With this surfacing after 10 years, it’s going to take it all the way back to square one.”

A 2000 study by a professor of finance at Wright State University in Ohio found that stigmatized properties sell for less, though not by a lot. Typically, they fetch 3 percent less than comparable homes in the area, according to James Larsen, who conducted the study. But they do take about 45 percent longer to sell, he said.

Sometimes notoriety makes the house more marketable.

Consider the Victorian residence in Fall River, Mass., where Lizzie Borden was accused (and acquitted) of taking an ax to her father and stepmother in 1892.

The current owners have turned the place into a bed-and-breakfast, where guests pay to sleep where the crimes occurred. And, to make your Lizzie Borden experience complete, there’s a gift shop where you can buy a Lizzie Borden bobblehead or a key ring adorned with a little silver hatchet.

Did someone say “stigma”?


~ by B on September 2, 2006.

5 Responses to “Murder and Real-Estate”

  1. It wouldn’t bother me at all, in fact I think it would be kinda cool. But that’s me. I’m a different breed of cat.

    You haven’t told us if YOU would buy such a home 🙂

  2. I don’t think I’d want to live in a home where someone was murdered. I have a few reasons … one, I wouldn’t buy the house shortly after a murder occured because of the media and thrill seekers … If the murder had enough noteriety I’m sure there would be people on the properly often enough that I wouldn’t feel comfortable. But the main reason would be that I dont’ think that I would feel comfortable knowing what happened to someone else in the home.

    I’m not afraid of death or ghosts … I work in a busy ER and I’ve seen enough gore and death and other weird stuff that I’m pretty much immune, as long as it’s not in my home or didn’t happen in my home.

  3. I’d be disappointed if I didn’t see a ghost. Maybe I should call this bed & breakfast, see if I can get a night’s stay for free … Lizzie Borden’s in my family tree 🙂

    Great site, BTW. Appeals to my gruesome side. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

  4. I’m a real estate agent, and my state does not require disclosure of stigmitized items. However there are a few homes in our town, (not a big one) that people have speculated what happened there. It doesn’t keep them from selling, but they do move slower.

    It wouldn’t bother me either, but I’m with JM I would want to see a ghost.

    BTW – the house I grew up in had a bad fire and the family died. It was haunted and we frequently saw ghosts.

  5. I don’t think it would bother me so much. The only thing that would bother me is people knocking on the door to see where so and so was murdered. Then again, I could also turn it into a museum and make some money off of it if the murder was famous enough.

    You should read “House of Leaves,” its about a house with a stigma and a whole lot more than just haunting. I didn’t like the format of the book, but I liked the idea of the story.

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