Would you buy a house in which someone had been murdered if it came at a bargain price?
That’s exactly what the family in recent New Zealand comedy horror film Housebound did. Unfortunately for them it came at a cost – the gruesome murder left a residue, and pretty soon blood was flowing again.
Obviously the dark events in Housebound have little grounding in reality, except on one point: ‘murder houses’ do indeed sell cheap.
According to property buyer advocate Neil Jenman, a so-called ‘stigmatised property’ is, as a rule, worth 10 per cent less than it would have been otherwise.
On a property worth $500,000, that would mean a difference of $50,000.
With the property market as hot as it is now, that’s a significant discount. But how many people are prepared to endure the creepiness?
Based on feedback from clients and members of the public, Mr Jenman reckons only 15 per cent of buyers are brave enough.
A recent murder house
Mr Jenman is a passionate advocate for murder house disclosure, arguing potential owners have a right to know if a murder happened in the house.
“If you buy a house that’s been the scene of a murder and you weren’t told, once you move in it won’t be long before the neighbours say to you, ‘Gee, how do you feel about living in the death house?’ And then it’ll creep you out.”
Mr Jenman’s activities recently attracted the ire of the owner of a murder house, after he published an article on his website disclosing the fact that a murder had happened in the property.
The murder in question occurred in 2008, which the owner claimed was “past the disclosure period”.
The owner said the article had cost him two potential sales, because it was the first hit on Google.
“I have no other option and I need the house to be sold … I completely understand if the duty of disclosure still exists however you can’t expect a house to forever have the stigma of something has had happened years ago … And I’m sure I’m not the only [person selling a house where] unfortunate situation happened,” the seller wrote in an email.
Mr Jenman’s response to the email was unapologetic.
“Well, this just PROVES it, doesn’t it?!
“The buyers are NOT buying the home when they discover the murder fact. This means if we remove the article buyers who would not have bought the home if they’d known about the murder will now buy the home. And then, once they’ve bought the home, they’ll definitely find out about the murder whereupon they will be upset.”
Mr Jenman said that in the end the property, which was on the market for $390,000, sold this year for just $350,000.
A recent high-profile ‘murder house’ is the apartment overlooking Hyde Park in Sydney, where Simon Gittany murdered his girlfriend by throwing her off the balcony in 2011.
The apartment, which was rented by Gittany, went up for auction earlier this year, but failed to sell.
You can have a look at the advertisement for the apartment here.
Without the knowledge of the murder, it looks like a swish apartment in a fantastic location. With the knowledge, however, it acquires an eeriness that is enough, says Mr Jenman, to put off 85 per cent of buyers.
There are lots of other examples, both in Australia and overseas, including one case in the US in which a man bought a murder house unaware of its gruesome history – and was then murdered himself.
Getting your murder house ‘cleared’
If you are one of the 15 per cent who are prepared to buy a murder house, then you don’t necessarily have to accept the bad vibes. You might, for example, consider going down the unscientifically verified route of a ‘space clearing’.
‘Earth acupuncture’ practitioner Leanne Dawson of New Life Reiki Solutions offers a service known as ‘space clearings’, which involves clearing up negative energy in houses using techniques based on acupuncture and reiki.
And on a couple of occasions she has been called to clear a murder house.
“There was a house in Warranwood many years ago that had a specific murder that I was asked to clear, and one down in Box Hill where someone had been murdered in the doorway.
“The houses sell very cheaply when there’s been a murder, because nobody wants it. But then you definitely need to clear it,” she says.