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Posted: Wednesday, 09 July 2014 4:05PM

Selling Homes with Notorious Histories: Price Takes a Beating



iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nothing ruins a property's value like murder.

That was made clear when Catrina McGhaw of Missouri recently broke her lease when she discovered while watching television that her house was once owned by a serial killer who tortured as many as 20 women in the basement.

It's a problem felt by other owners of buildings with notorious pasts.

"With that kind of history, I would plan on the home being at least 20 percent below market value," Zillow real estate expert Brendon DeSimone said. "It also shrinks the pool of buyers. Many customers simply won't make an offer. For obvious reasons, most buyers will just move onto something else."

But even those willing to live with a lurid history will expect a deal, DeSimone said.

"Basically the value is so much lower because you are losing a huge amount of market share," DeSimone said.

Despite the challenges of marketing a home with a bloody history, the best practice for a property owner is to disclose these details, DeSimone advised.

"A smart buyer will do their homework. Nowadays with so much real estate information available online, if a murder took place in recent years, there would be records and knowledgeable neighbors," he said.

One website, DiedInHouse, will reveal if someone has died in a house for a fee.

Carmen Jones, a Redfin real estate agent in Dallas, helped her client buy a home where a stripper had been murdered. The homicide was only revealed after her client had put in an offer on the house. The revelation didn't bother her client enough not to buy the home, however.

"Other clients of mine might have reconsidered if it were a natural death, but murder is different," Jones said. "Most people are disturbed by the thought of a spirit or ghost of a person that met a terrible traumatic fate. Most are truly mortified at the thought of ghosts, but especially one living in their home."

While it might not be a deal breaker, it would certainly narrow down the number of buyers interested, Jones said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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