The Murder Factor: What Homicide Does to Home Values

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A stigmatized property, one marked by murder or other heinous crime, typically sells at a deep discount, research shows. It could be a bargain for a buyer who doesn't mind the dark history.

Murder homes look like any other home once the crime scene tape is removed and the property is cleaned up. But despite a sparkly clean appearance, murders can kill home values.

According to consumer comparison website, the U.S. housing market loses $2.3 billion annually because of homicides. A murder doesn’t just affect the price of the home where it occurred, it can also lower the value of neighboring houses.

Research from the University of Technology Sydney found that housing prices within 0.2 miles of a murder house take a 4.4 percent hit in the year following a homicide.

“Not only are people creeped out by the thought that someone has been killed, a murder creates a perception that the area is generally less safe and has a higher crime rate,” explained.

Houses where murders or other gruesome crimes or events occur are known as “stigmatized properties.” In addition to taking a hit in value, stigmatized properties typically stay on the market for 45 percent longer than comparable houses, according to HGTV.

“Buying a house is a business transaction, but it’s also emotional,” Frank Harrison, a property appraiser based in Woodstock, Illinois, told HGTV. “You may find a home you like, but then you’re told someone died there. If an old man dies in his sleep, you might not think that’s so awful. But if it was a child, or a suicide, that might cause you to reconsider.”

Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo in Los Angeles, where she and her friend Ronald Goldman were infamously slain in 1994, sat on the market for two years before it finally sold for $590,000, which was $200,000 below market value.

In one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., where the average home is valued at $6 million, a stately brick mansion recently sold for $3.25 million, The Washington Post reports.

It was a bargain price, but the house came with a horrific bloody history. In May, the Woodley Park home was the site of a quadruple killing that left its owners, Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, dead, along with their 10-year-old son, Philip, and their housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, according to the Post. The house also sustained significant damage from a fire that was set after the crime.

Still, it sold, and less than six months after the gruesome crime occurred.

Click here to see how much murder has affected property market values in your home state.

Real estate agents in many states don’t have to disclose whether a murder has occurred at a home unless a potential buyer asks. According to LegalMatch, even in states where murders are required to be disclosed to buyers, there is often a time limit for disclosure.

“For example, California only requires that the deaths be disclosed if they took place within the last three years,” LegalMatch explains.

Would you purchase a home where a murder occurred? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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