This morning, Inman News featured an article by Mary Umberger called “Overcoming Real Estate Stigmas”. The title, which sounds like it’s introducing another rant against post-housing bubble real estate negativity, is misleading. Actually, the article is more about whether/how an agent, owner, or buyer can get past a home’s past – particularly when that past is bloody, violent, haunted, or etc.
Case in point: the Ramsey house in Colorado, which serves as the focal point of the article. It’s been 14 years since JonBenet Ramsey’s body was found in the basement and the house has already changed owners several times. But Umberger points out that the home is still known locally as “the Ramsey house” – and probably always will be.
No surprise there. What’s surprising is the way this sort of gruesome tragedy translates to real estate. The agent currently listing the Ramsey home, Neil Kearney,
“used the term ‘psychologically impacted’ to describe the particular conditions that affect the selling of the house, though others in the housing industry commonly use the phrase “stigmatized property” — that is, buyers might shun the house for reasons that have nothing to do with its physical condition.”
“Psychologically-impacted”? I’ll say. Even “stigmatized property” is quite the euphemism, since it implies that something has been done to the house, as though the property itself is the “stigmatized” victim.
But really, what happens to houses like these? Kearney says that, as with any other home, they do sell when the price is right. That price, however, may be a good 10% to 20% less than ordinary non-stigmatized market value, and some extensive remodeling may be involved. The basement of the Ramsey house, for example, was completely finished and remodeled by one of the post-Ramsey owners.
Remodeling and price cuts aside, serious buyers for homes like these have got to be few and far between. Even after a decade and a half, the Ramsey property will not host an open house for fear of an influx of curiosity-seekers. Though the home’s appraiser says it can sometimes take “up to” 15 years for a home’s notoriety to fade, that simply isn’t always the case – particularly when the case remains unsolved.