It’s one of those strange coincidences. The Real Estate section of the Sunday New York Times runs this story: Some Buyers Regret Not Asking: Anyone Die Here?

It can be upsetting to discover that a residence was the site of a murder or suicide. Others see it as a chance for a bargain.

17astor_2 The timing is uncanny for Baristaville, not only because of recent stories about Glen Ridge’s own Tom Cruise living in a haunted house in Beverly Hills, but also as we learn that the home of Joan Galligan is up for sale. On the market for $599,000, the pretty three-bedroom, tree-shaded home on a quiet street in Glen Ridge has been on the market for a little over two weeks. From the Times

Today, a home associated with a murder or suicide can become what some brokers call a stigmatized property. So can homes reputed to have a resident ghost. Although they are free of physical defects like leaky roofs or lead paint, such properties can so spook potential buyers that they linger on the market and command less than market value.

The article addresses the fact that for residents of older homes, it’s naive not to think that someone, somewhere along the way, has died in your home. And legally, you don’t have to be told.

Just as in New York, sellers in New Jersey are not required to tell buyers about a death on a property, or a rumor of a haunted house. “If it doesn’t harm the property, under no circumstances do you have to report it,” said Adam Leitman Bailey, who practices real estate law in New York and New Jersey.


Indeed, tales of death and resale end in various ways, not all of them unpleasantly. After living in her brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant for two years, Danielle Cash, a broker who specializes in town house sales, learned from a friend and neighbor that the previous owner of her home had died there.

“I was freaked out,” said Ms. Cash, founder and president of Abode Real Estate, which is located in her town house. “I said, ‘You waited two years to tell me this?’ ”

But when neighbors and churchgoers regaled her with stories about how beloved the prior owner was, she came to realize that it was not such a grave matter.

“If he was a nightmare and died in the house, I would have been freaked out,” Ms. Cash said. “I really do think energy lives in houses.”

So we ask — do you believe a violent death or suicide in a home weighs more than the collective positive energy and memories of the folks that live there?

8 replies on “Hard Sell?”

  1. There’s this house near ours, the whole family was really “out there”
    big drinkers too.
    The last son paraded up & down the street w/ a vintage rifle. The Police came, they wrestled w/ him (there was a bayonette on the rifle) when he claimed to be a secret CIA agent.
    Then another part to this family was that the Mom always wanted to drive..she never did. They always had this old woody type wagon in the driveway.
    One year we asked how was Mrs. XXXXXX ?
    We were told that she died! We never did see any people paying respects! Nothing! Nada!
    I’ll betcha that the car w/ the Missus
    is buried in the basement.

  2. Talk about bad taste. I am pretty surprised to see this on here this morning. Coincidence or not, uncanny or not – distasteful. I would think that the Barista would have been more thoughtful and forward thinking about whether to use this as a bit of “news” for this blog.
    And for anyone who might be interested: showings are by appointment only, and all serious prospective purchasers WILL be made aware of the history of the home. That history includes not only a murder, but also my son’s first birthday party and my daughter’s second, as well as several festive holiday meals.

  3. While I wish you and your family well during your period of grief, I would say that this IS news that a house where a major news event happened is now on the market.

  4. Well then, we differ.
    Even the most “newsworthy” pieces are treated with discretion, depending on each individual situation.
    In just under an hour, I have moved past this temporarily upsetting bit and resolved my feelings concerning it.

  5. I think this is unnecessary, particularly since this site has promoted a supportive relationship with the bereaved family. Why make a big point of this as they are trying to sell the house?

  6. It’s a strange occurance, but when anything happens to anyone and the media gets a hold of it, Nothing is Sacred.
    Your very soul becomes other people’s words and paragraphs twisted beyond that which is the original and recognizable. It is not “personal” they’ll say- but in fact that is exactly what they hon in on —the heart and breath of it.
    And not only must you grieve for the mere happening of the occurance that was the original focal point but all the fray associated with it.
    This is the fray but unfortunately this is only the beginning of it due to the nature of the crime.
    In order to heal IMHO, is to no longer involve yourself with the incident until you absolutely must ( at trial) and leave the speculation behind –it is excess, and unmeanningful, it is no longer “you or yours”. Let it go—just recognize what is and what was that you know to be true, no one can take that from you. Ever.

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