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  • Writer's pictureMike Roberts

Selling a “Haunted House”

Haunted houses are no joke when it comes to selling a so-called stigmatized property. The same goes for houses where someone has been murdered or committed suicide. The stigma surrounding the house may make it difficult, but not impossible, to sell. Here’s a guide for the owners of such a property.

Clean and purge

The first priority should be to have the house professionally cleaned. Some cleaning companies specialize in the safe removal and sanitizing of crime scenes. If there are bullet holes in walls, have them repaired, leaving no trace of what occurred. Cleanup, of course, must be authorized by local law enforcement after all investigations have been completed.

Be honest

Information about the history of the house should come from you, not an online search of such sites as Died In House.

Expect a loss of value

Some states require that a death of any kind, violent or peaceful, be reported to potential buyers. Knowledge of a death on the property may cause a discount from the normal market value of 15 percent or more. The more sensational the crime, the greater the loss. Some houses recover and eventually return to normal valuation, but some do not and often it’s the magnitude of the tragedy and the amount of publicity that determines its fate.

Ways to minimize the loss

Homeowners can reduce the impact that a stigmatizing event in the home has on the value. One way is to delay the sale of the house by renting it out for a few years. The passage of time causes memories to fade and the stigma to dissipate. Eventually, you may be able to sell it with little or no reduction in market value.

Another step you can take — especially if photos of the house were repeatedly published or shown on television — is to renovate the home’s facade. New siding, trim, a new paint color, and landscaping changes can make the house unrecognizable as the place where something traumatic happened.

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