Oakville Real Estate News

Stigmatized Properties That Benefit From A Seedy Past

Blog by Joette Fielding | October 22nd, 2014

Stigmatized PropertiesVanessa Roman is host of HGTV's Reno vs Relocate who divides her time between Halifax and Toronto. 

I had a real estate ‘first’ this week; in itself having a ‘first’ was pretty amazing because I have been buying, selling and renovating properties for so long now that it sometimes feels like I have seen or heard it all before – but apparently not. 

I was contacted by a European company who had a client interested in buying a ‘stigmatized’ property. This mysterious client reportedly owned several other ‘stigmatized’ properties around the globe and the company representative was hoping I could help him find one in my neck of the woods. 

Say what? 

To begin, I should explain that stigmatized properties are ones which typically are unappealing for purchasers not due to any physical or cosmetic defect, rather because of the undesirable events – real or imagined - which have occurred within the house. 

There are several websites on the internet with stigmatized property databases, but the two most popular are the RCMP Marihuana and Synthetic drug website (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca) and www.housecreep.com which is a database started by brothers Albert and Robert Armieri last year where the public can search for stigmatized properties by address or mapped location.  

Here are some of the ways a property becomes stigmatized:

Murder/Suicide: The site of violent or unnatural death will often cause a negative property stigma and depreciation in overall value.

Criminal: Few buyers would seek out homes which have been used in the commission of a crime such as a grow-op, drug den, bawdy house or chop shop.

Public Stigma: These are notorious houses which are well-known to the public and attract large numbers of tourists or passersby. An example would be 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, N.Y. This is the site of the 1974 DeFeo murders which have resulted in numerous articles, books and horror movies.

Previous Occupant: Notorious individuals have to live somewhere and if that somewhere was once your prospective home, it can come with a stigma attached. Imagine living in Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home or properties previously owned by Paul Bernardo or Clifford Olsen who was convicted of murdering 11 children in British Columbia?

But not all previous occupant stigmas as perceived as negative, some actually improve the value. Take Al Capone’s Miami compound or Ma Barker’s Gang hideout in Florida; both of these properties have gone up for sale in recent years and sold quickly because of their infamous historical occupants.

Paranormal Activity: Things that go bump in the night can give some potential buyers the heebie-jeebies, but for others this is another stigma which actually adds value. This was the case for the mysterious European client whose representative contacted me recently. Specifically, the client wanted to purchase a property with well-known paranormal or supernatural activity to open a hotel or B&B for tourists interested in a ghostly experience.

The business model is not unique; a quick Google search for Haunted Hotels turns up a seemingly endless list of vacation rentals such as hotels, B&Bs, cottages and condos proudly detailing the paranormal phenomena happening under their roofs. The reports range from unexplained cold drafts or furniture being rearranged overnight, hearing mysterious footsteps or voices, to seeing misty apparitions walking the halls and gardens. Most have creepy tales of love lost, tragic accidents and gruesome murder to support the ghostly activity which – inexplicably – adds even more value for the tourists seeking this type of spectral holiday retreat. 

Excerpt taken from http://www.torontosun.com


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