Motivated Seller: Just Don’t Ask Why

Last month, Dr. Uggen had an interesting post regarding the resale of homes that were the settings of violent and non-violent crimes.

The first photo is of a home for sale in California with the following description: "Moorpark, CA— 4 beds, 3 baths, $449,900, extremely motivated seller." Ok, that picture is certainly an attention-getter, but judging from the shade of red on the carpet, I am making an educated guess that the stain is not blood. The second photo shows a three bedroom house for sale in St. Paul, MN.

These properties are fairly inviting eh?

How about a living in a house where a murder occurred? What about sleeping in the former location of a large meth lab? Would you be interested in the condo where the Menendez brothers were convicted of killing their parents?

Crime scene stigma is the term used to describe homes that are undervalued since they were the settings of murders, aggravated assaults, or similar tragedies.

An ABC News article offers this example:

Crime scene stigma has two effects on property values," Bell said. "One is the most obvious, and that's the discounting effect. And the second is that it takes longer to sell these properties."

Three years ago, Ron Austen and his girlfriend, Cathy Nazarian, bought a home in Ventura, Calif., with an ugly history. And they knew terrible things had occurred there.

"I knew that rapes had occurred here, druggings," Austen said.

Andrew Luster, the great-grandson of cosmetics millionaire Max Factor and heir to a fortune, lived discreetly in the house for 20 years.

In 2003 he was convicted of drugging and raping women, and police discovered he'd recorded his crimes on video. He's currently serving a 124-year prison sentence.

Austen and Nazarian said the history of the house definitely gave them pause.

"It had a little bit of effect on me," said Austen. "I figured it was the ultimate fixer-upper in that they say to buy a place in the nicest possible location that's in the worst possible shape and this was both."

And the price was right -- 20 percent below market value.

Nazarian said she tried to sleep in the bedroom where Luster committed the crimes, but just couldn't do it. "Just walking into this room I'm in a bad place," she said.

The property needed more than just time to remove this stigma -- it needed a makeover. Ron says he has spent almost $100,000 renovating the property and it has been worth it.
I can understand where perhaps an infamous crime might be of interest to someone with odd tastes, but I would think that most of these places are simply leveled and another structure is rebuilt (as was done with Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment building). To each his/her own…


Oz Girl said...

Ugh... reminds me of the "bargain" house my mom bought in Ohio a few years back and we renovated, umm rather, practically rebuilt. It was disgusting. Turned out really nice and cute in the end, but a ton of work as we did most of it ourselves! Thanks for stopping by my blog and your compliment -- your blog is quite interesting. ;-)

Oz Girl said...

Oh, and we sold it, none of us lived in it.... lol.

mrs. fuzz said...

I don't think I could do it unless it was leveled and rebuilt, but even then I wonder if it would still creep me out. . .

I'm from Ventura county actually, lived in moorpark for 2 years. I remember when this max factor heir was in the news. I think he took off to Mexico and was shortly caught after.

I love homes with a story, but not icky ones.

Slamdunk said...

OG: Glad that all of the work paid off for you.

MF: I love homes with history too, but I am with you--no homes with a violent crime history.