Whether or not you believe in ghosts, there’s no denying that a cemetery is a spooky place—especially after dark. Some people also fear the potential of criminal activities taking place in the various hiding spots between tombstones. But despite those possible perils, it turns out buying a home near a graveyard may not be such a scary idea.
America is home to more than 144,000 graveyards and cemeteries, according to Redditor and data visualization expert Joshua Stevens, who mapped out all the graveyards and cemeteries in the contiguous United States in a map titled “The Geography of the Dead.” With so many cemeteries, it’s little surprise that many are located in bustling neighborhoods.
“I’ve had clients who both were not wanting to be near or next to a cemetery and others who didn’t mind it at all,” says Samantha DeBianchi, a Realtor and founder of DeBianchi Real Estate.
Considering buying a home and settling down near other people’s final resting place? Here are some things to think about.
Pros: Quiet neighbors, peaceful
The dead are quiet folks. When you enter a cemetery, you usually get the impression of a peaceful green expanse.
“If you’re living by a cemetery, you’ll have lots of ‘neighbors,’ but it most certainly will be quiet,” says DeBianchi, who’s also a host on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Miami.”
But she says buyers should keep in mind that funeral processions, earth movers, visitors, and overall maintenance could create noise at times.
“With that said, noise can happen in any area, whether you’re near a cemetery or not,” says DeBianchi.
Pros: Well-maintained green space with no developments nearby
Cemeteries are typically well-manicured, with flowers and trees in a parklike setting. They sometimes include a pond or lake. Homeowners likely won’t have to worry about developments being raised in their area.
“I feel that buying a home near a cemetery offers a quiet, well-maintained setting, and oftentimes cemeteries are beautifully landscaped and picturesque,” says Holly Finn with the Finn Team at Coldwell Banker West Shell in Cincinnati.
However, while DeBianchi says the cemeteries that are in her area are well-maintained and landscaped, that’s not always the case elsewhere.
“When I’ve traveled to different states and locations, I’ve definitely seen ones that aren’t as aesthetically desirable,” she says.
Pros: Affordable housing
According to research by realtor.com®, the median home price in neighborhoods with a cemetery are about 12% lower than similar homes in other areas without graveyards.
That’s good news for buyers looking for more affordable homes, who don’t mind living next to rows of tombstones.
Finn says her team doesn’t have clients who specifically avoid buying near a cemetery.
“Most of the cemeteries in our area have a buffer between the cemetery and the house. So as long as you don’t look directly out on gravestones from the house, some of our buyers may appreciate a discounted price and enjoy the quiet neighbors,” Finn says.
Still, cemeteries just plain freak out some people (a few of whom have a full-on phobia, coimetrophobia). Fear of ghosts wandering over to haunt the home and the feeling that it’s taboo to live by a cemetery can keep home buyers from considering these properties. And some buyers might not care for a concrete reminder of their mortality just across the street.
“The cemetery could give some people a creepy or uneasy feeling,” says Finn.
Cons: Contamination or pollution from cemetery
One concern that may not be as obvious is the risk from toxic chemicals used to embalm bodies. The decomposition of bodies can pass through the soil and into groundwater, and studies have shown that these chemicals may cause environmental contamination and groundwater pollution over time.
In the U.S., about 5.3 million gallons of embalming fluid are used every year. This fluid contains formaldehyde, a respiratory irritant and known carcinogen, according to Funeral Consumers Alliance.
However, a growing number of “green” cemeteries provide natural burials that have as little impact on the earth as possible.
Cons: Houses stay longer on the market
A home next to a cemetery doesn’t exactly offer cachet, and as a result, properties near cemeteries tend to spend more time on the market.
“Owning a home next to a cemetery could rule out some buyers when going to sell, which would limit your pool of potential buyers,” says Finn.
However, DeBianchi says it all depends on the location.
“There’s a beautiful cemetery in a neighborhood that I sell in that has million-dollar homes lined next to it, and the feedback from the owners is that they like the tranquility of their surroundings,” says DeBianchi.
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