Would you buy a murder house?

barbcollinsNovember 29, 2009

We are looking for our next renovation project, and were checking out a TH Foreclosure. After doing some research I found that this was a house where a father murdered his wife and four kids then committed suicide (hung himself on the banister).

These murders occured almost 3 years ago but were front page news around here for a long time.

The house is priced at about 1/2 it's current value (if cleaned up, painted etc).

My question is: Would this keep you from buying a house you like?

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creek_side

I almost did. I once considered a property being sold by a court ordered estate sale. When I dug into the why of it, I found that it had belonged to someone who was killed in a car bombing, also a major headline event at that particular location.

It gave me pause, but I was still interested until I met one of the neighbors. That finally killed the deal.

Time softens memories, and at some point the killings will become no more than a curiosity, except to those close to the victims. If you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, it would probably be a non-issue at resale. If you plan on flipping it, then it may make a large difference.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 5:48PM
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barbcollins

Yes, we are looking for something flip, so I am thinking this is not a good choice.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 6:39PM
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blueheron

I would not buy a house with that history. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 6:45PM
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sue36

DH said buy it. I say not in a million years. I wouldn't want the town haunted house, not thanks. Who will want to raise kids in that house? Can you imagine the stories they will be told at school?

"The house is priced at about 1/2 it's current value (if cleaned up, painted etc)."

A house is only worth what someone will pay for it. If it is currently priced at half its previous value then it is clearly worth less than that because it hasn't sold.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 7:06PM
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Carol_from_ny

A house once fixed up, repainted and made to look lovely will lessen people's memories very quickly especially if the changes are extensive. The larger the town the quicker memories fade.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 7:55PM
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calliope

Depends on more than a few factors. Depends on your locality. Some don't forget easily. My aunt lived in an apartment complex and years later, they still pointed to the unit with 'catsup' all over the walls.

Depends if you have children, and plan to actually live in that house or sell it to someone with children. I think it would warp over a child's mind and scare them to death. I remember a portrait of my g'grandmother, whose eyes we kids said followed us around. And she wasn't killed in that house.

Depends on whether you believe in spirits.

I remember in a business class I took years ago. Our instructor was talking about business localities having 'the stench of death'. IOW don't buy a building where previous businesses had failed. It sticks in people's minds unconsciously and makes the public connect your business with a failed one. Just out of curiosity, I've watched several locations on our shopping 'strip'. Two of them, have had businesses in them who failed over and over. Both were choice locations, and what you'd consider high rent. Both are empty now.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 8:13PM
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jane__ny

Never, never, never...

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 10:36PM
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lsst

There is a home for sale in a desirable high end neighborhood in our town.
A son murdered his father in the finished basement.
The house is still for sale 2 years later.
The flyer states new paint and carpet in the basement.
Knowing what I do, it just creeps me out.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 10:49PM
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adellabedella_usa

I wouldn't buy it. Houses like that tended to be vandalized or burned down (arson) where I grew up.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 12:07AM
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linda117117

It seems to bother alot of people on this forum but it doesnt really bother that many people when faced with that situation. Once its fixed up, new paint, carpet, kitchen, etc the "feeling" of that tradgedy isnt there for most people. It will sell. You would be buying it for less than its market value, you probably would sell it for less than its market value, but you would still make money on it.

I live near a town where a pretty well known serial killer had killed 8 women in the house and kept the bodies in there for over a year a few years back. The house was sold shortly after the guy went to prison (purchased by a real estate agent), and flipped. It sold almost immediately because it was priced a little lower than its comparables because of its history. So to the buyers, it was a great deal.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:46AM
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brickeyee

I grew up on a corner of a state road and a side street.

Traffic was always heavy on the state road (2 lane, 30 MPH) and accidents were very common at the intersection.

A couple of deaths occurred.

A couple more deaths occurred when folks turned on the side street and hit the driveway retaining wall or the brick back steps of the house near the sidewalk.

One guy on a motorcycle even managed to break up the steps pretty badly with his head when he hit them.

We never considered selling or anything.

Depending on the size of the town and the turnover rate in houses it could be a bargain.

It might be worth buying and renting out.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 9:29AM
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barbcollins

We are probably going to not buy it. We'll keep it on our list.

Thank you for all the comments.

We both think we could get past the emotional part, but I am worried because I could see there was still furniture in the house. I think I would freak out if all the kids beds were still there.

This is a townhouse in a small "U" shaped development of about 28 houses. There was a story in the paper late last year that the community was still trying to "cope" with the tradegy.

Since we only do one house at a time, we feel it's too risky. If it doesn't sell, and they drop the price we might reconsider (if we haven't found something else by then).

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 9:52AM
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chrisk327

obviously its up to you what you think its worth...

I wouldn't buy it. i probably would have trouble living there for free.

Its one thing if someone dies in the house from old age, an accident etc. Its a big difference if its a violent act. Its even more troublesome if what happened to that house happens.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 10:34AM
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terriks

The fact that there are so many other people who would not buy such a house would keep me from buying it. I am afraid that the resale value would be bad.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 12:35PM
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Billl

Personally, I'm not superstitious and I don't believe in haunted houses, bad "energy" etc. I believe people are responsible for their own actions and choices and wouldn't be a bit concerned that the evil person who lived there somehow left some of his evil behind.

Of course, I know that a lot of people don't think the same. You probably will not be able to sell the place at similar prices to normal comps because of that. I don't know if there is a standard "murder house" discount, but I don't think it is anywhere near 50%. If you can buy at 50% below what a normal market value would be and all it needs is a good cleaning and painting, then there appears to be a substantial margin still to be had.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 1:16PM
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newhomeseeker

I would never buy it or live there. Hell no. As someone else said, if someone dies of old age or an accident it is not a big deal. But that is truly a horrific crime/tragedy and the fact that four children were shot by their own father, that house just has a stigma with it that I think most people wouldn't be able to overlook. I mean, if you were to sell it dirt cheap and it was a fantastic property there is probably someone would would buy it, but to make any money off it or sell it quickly, I highly doubt that is possible.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 1:25PM
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berniek

I'd buy it as a rental, as long as it has a decent cash flow.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 2:34PM
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kudzu9

It's amazing how people can let irrational factors and superstitions overwhelm reason. It sounds like an opportunity to grab a bargain. It's a sad commentary on human reason that you could get such a discount because of an incident that happened in the past and has no bearing on the material qualities of the home. There are many millions of houses where tragedies have occurred such as suicides, child abuse, spousal abuse, etc., but they don't affect house values because most of them don't come to light.

Even if the group of buyers is smaller for such a house, you have the ability to buy it for a huge discount, renovate it, and sell it fairly quickly by pricing it at a hard-to-resist price. I predict that greed for a good deal will trump superstitious irrationality.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 2:55PM
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sylviatexas1

not necessarily irrational.

I wouldn't want to go to sleep every night in a house that might attract unbalanced copy-cats bent on violence.

For that reason & others ("visits" from customers or gang members who didn't realize the drug dealers or gang had moved), I wouldn't be likely to buy a former drug house or a gang house.

I'd pass on this one.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 4:15PM
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calliope

It's not up to the seller to think buyers have no right to be irrational. It's up to the seller to pander to them if they want to move a house.

If you have to ask the question.........then you already know in your gut there may be an issue to buyers. It's your risk to assume regardless of how irrational it may or may not be. To some people having a violent crime committed in a house for sale would be an irreparable fault.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:34PM
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kudzu9

I rest my case...

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 12:34AM
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lowspark

It's amazing how people can let irrational factors and superstitions overwhelm reason. It sounds like an opportunity to grab a bargain.

Yup, that's what it is. An opportunity to grab a bargain. But the opportunity is there for someone who would like to LIVE there. Not for someone trying to flip it. That one right person might eventually come along and grab a great deal. And the current owners have no choice but to wait it out. But someone who buys a house to flip it won't have the luxury of waiting around. And if the house sits idle, for whatever reason, it's no bargain.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 12:45PM
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auntjen

A "sad commentary on human reason" - ? Not at all. Humans are capable of reasoning and feeling on an emotional level. One doesn't necessarily "trump" the other, and it's a bit presumptuous (and arrogant) to suggest that those who have replied "no way" to this thread are somehow lacking.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 4:29PM
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barbcollins

To show how this tradegy is still well known.

We are babysitting our granddaughter tonight, and when my daughter (22 YRS) was here, I told her that we were looking at a Town House on ________ Drive that was a good price.

She immediately said "Oh, that's where that family lived, where the Dad killed them all then killed himself".

Ok, my daughter has never been known to pay attention to anything that didn't revolve around her own little world. So this is another sign to me, that it's a bad idea.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 6:38PM
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graywings123

I recall visiting with a woman who for lack of a better description I would call simple. She described in great detail a murder in the neighborhood, and only at the end of the story did I hear - and only because I asked - that it had occurred 20 years earlier. The stigma doesn't go away with new carpeting and paint.

Think about the Amish who tore down the schoolhouse a few years back after the brutal murders there.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 8:41AM
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Beemer

In our area, you must disclose if a death has occurred in a home. If not, the buyer has a right to sue.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 1:31PM
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creek_side

In our area, you must disclose if a death has occurred in a home. If not, the buyer has a right to sue.

Rumor or fact? Can you provide a link to the requirement?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 9:47PM
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cmarlin20

In our area, you must disclose if a death has occurred in a home. If not, the buyer has a right to sue.

Rumor or fact? Can you provide a link to the requirement?
It is a disclosure requirement in my area also (California), if a death has occurred in the recent past. I bought a house where the seller had just died (medical). No problem for me, I didn't disclose to the next buyer because the three years had passed. The house was built in 1887, probably had more deaths in it history.
I also looked at a house where the agent disclosed prior to my viewing an unsolved murder had occurred. I had no problem considering buying, I just didn't like the floorplan.
A big notorious murder, I would pass because of the stigma. I'm thinking of Nicole Simpson, they changed the street address, and remodeled the exterior, but it is the same condo.
Here is a ling that gardenweb wouldn't let me link, maybe they think it is my biz?
http://www.wwlaw.com/death.htm

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 10:50AM
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brickeyee

Only in Ca.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 12:42PM
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creek_side

Only in Ca.

I should have guessed.

California RE disclosure forms are a major cause of deforestation in that state.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 5:21PM
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chrisk327

NY is the other end of the spectrium,
they put our a disclosure form to be filled out and then put a penelty in place if you don't

Sounds great right? Penelty is $500. My RE lawyer does many closing a week, hasn't heard of 1 person ever filling it out.

Certian material items are probably disclosed, but for the most part, people can play dumb about almost anything.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 6:22PM
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mongoct

The official terminology is "stigmatized properties." They can be murder homes or just

They can be tough to move, so it could affect your ability to flip the property.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 1:49AM
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galore2112

I don't think not wanting a murder house is irrational.

I don't believe in ghosts, the supernatural or gods but I'd be depressed thinking about what happened in my house, if I lived in a murder house.

It's the opposite of what I consider cozy.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 11:49PM
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cocooner

I would recommend that you find something else. With the real estate slowdown, folks are fussier about aspects that would not have mattered so much previously. Nearby power lines, a busy street, a bad floorplan all may have been ignored in the boom, along with a stigmatized house. While you could get lucky, the odds are that it would not be a quick sale if you bought it.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 1:00PM
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worthy

The home where Canadian serial murderers Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo tortured, sodomized and killed two teen girls snatched off the street was demolished and a new house built on the lot and given a different address.

When the house was demolished, even the destination of the rubble was kept secret to keep souvenir hunters away.

But the family home where Karla drugged her own sister so Paul could rape her and where she choked to death was sold without a fuss.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homolka house for sale

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 7:31PM
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barbcollins

Yes, we decided on something else (made an offer on Sunday, still waiting to hear from the bank).

I did ask our realtor about this. He said they are not allowed to offer information like this about a house or neighborhood. If asked, they can tell.

He agreed, that house will be extremely hard to sell, no matter what condition it is in.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 7:55AM
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worthy

If you saw this image on a wall of a pre-condo conversion you might give the deal a second thought too.


Hanging Room Only

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 12:33PM
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