On the face of it, it looks like the dream home for any successful, middle-class couple – four bedrooms, incredibly spacious with new carpets and hardwood flooring upstairs. Moreover, it’s situated in a great part of Poway district in California, much sought after location with several great schools nearby. All this could be yours for just $399,000. So why won’t it sell?
Because this home is also home to a sinister secret – it’s what’s known in the industry as a “stigmatized property”, a home where something terrible occurred.
According to the National Association of Realtors, a stigmatized property is one where either a real or rumored event took place which, while not physically affecting the property, has had an adverse impact on its desirability.
The owners of the seemingly-perfect property described above, a Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham were brutally murdered by one of their neighbors in Easter 2010, before their killer was himself gunned down by police inside the property.
This is just one of many otherwise desirable properties in the California area that cannot shake off that stigma. Another famous example is a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Previously home to the Heaven’s Gate cult, it was the scene of a mass suicide involving 39 of its members in 1999. After years on the market, the mansion was finally sold for far less than its value, before being promptly torn down and replaced with an entirely new property.
The owner of the realtors responsible for selling the Poway home, Jason Ramsey of Home Realty USA, has already shown numerous people around the property, but virtually all of them ruled out living there once they found out what transpired. The problem they face is a legal (as well as moral) responsibility to disclose what happened at the property.
When asked, the president of the San Diego Association of Realtors, Bob Kevane, admitted that he had never managed to sell a property which was the scene of a murder. While numerous homes involving deaths by natural causes are sold on, it seems that many of us simply cannot bear the prospect of living somewhere with such a ghoulish past.
For anyone brave enough however, there are more than a few bargains to be had out there.