AgentMarketing

How would you sell a ‘murder house’?

A discussion of distressed property in the information age
  • It’s probably best to err on the side of caution and disclose deaths on a property.
  • There's often stories already out there about homes where suicide or murder have happened and sometimes those stories are the source of unnecessary -- and untrue -- hype.
  • If you’re really concerned, you can always hire a priest or a psychic to clear the property.

Murders, suicides, hauntings -- all provoke prurient interest in a property that can often morph into a three-ring media circus. If you became the listing agent, would you downplay the media attention to avoid the property becoming more stigmatized, or would you capitalize on the free publicity? More importantly, what disclosures would you advise your clients to make as you sell their home? Nancy Sanborn of Berkshire Hathaway Beverly Hills, a long-time friend and the top probate agent in Los Angeles, called me recently about a probate listing she had just taken. The property was the site of a grisly murder-suicide back in 1959. Reportedly nothing on the inside of the house had been changed since that fateful day, right down to the Christmas presents under the tree. Sanborn raised the question about whether it was wise to capitalize on all the local and national media inquiring about the property. The publicity would have been great for her business, but what about wh...