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Grave Mistake? The Truth About Buying a Home Near a Cemetery

February 5, 2020

jacquesvandinteren/iStock

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.

Cons: Scary

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.

The post Grave Mistake? The Truth About Buying a Home Near a Cemetery appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How to Avoid Unexpectedly Buying a Haunted House—Because It Could Happen to You

October 31, 2019

Zeferli/iStock

Footsteps late at night. Music randomly playing. Lights flickering. Unexplained shadows. True-horror fans might get a thrill out of moving into a house with a haunted past, but others might see it as a nightmare.

It wouldn’t surprise us to hear that notorious homes like the Manson murder house in Los Feliz or the “In Cold Blood” house have experienced some paranormal activity. The same goes for homes in towns with notoriously gruesome histories, like Salem, MA, where about two dozen people accused of witchcraft were executed or died in jail in the 1600s.

“Salem is one of the markets where I practice real estate, and you never know what’s lurking behind closed doors,” says Dana Bull, real estate agent at Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Marblehead, MA.

At this point, your eyes may be rolling, especially if you don’t believe in ghosts. But bear with us. Because there’s no way of knowing exactly what has gone on during a house’s history—and what may still linger.

“Sellers may or may not be aware of ghosts or other strange, paranormal activities, and almost none of the real estate listing contracts have any clauses or questions about such things. Add to that the fact that the majority of potential buyers don’t believe in the paranormal,” says Jane Phillips, a psychic, medium, and paranormal investigator for Geyser Energy Clearing Services, in Santa Fe, NM.

Therefore, in the spirit of Halloween, we beseech you to suspend your disbelief and take the following precautionary steps to avoid buying a haunted house. Because after staying up for a late-night viewing of “The Amityville Horror,” you want to be able to fall asleep with no fear whatsoever of poltergeists in your own home.

So whether you believe in ghosts or not (or only in the wee hours), here’s how to cover your bases. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

Know your state’s disclosure laws

The rules on what sellers have to disclose to buyers vary by state—and sometimes even by city. Sometimes you’ll receive the full picture about a house’s history, but there’s also chance you could be left in the dark.

“A haunted house falls under the category of a stigmatized property,” says Bull. A stigmatized property is a home that may be displeasing to buyers for other reasons besides its physical condition.

“In many states, it’s not mandatory to disclose a stigma like a murder, suicide, or crime—or paranormal activity. You can check with a real estate attorney in your state for the rules,” she says.

California, for example, has a law that requires deaths that occurred on the property within the past three years be disclosed.

New Mexico is one state that doesn’t disclose any nonmaterial facts about a property when it’s listed for sale, Phillips says. That can be tricky for both the agent and buyer, especially if the seller doesn’t reveal some facts that could cause a haunting.

Research the house

Good old-fashioned research can usually turn up information on a house.

“Always Google the address before you purchase a home. You might be surprised by what pops up,” says Bull.

Look at newspaper clippings and historical records to see if any deaths happened at that house that you should be aware of.

Also, research the land the house was built on—does it sit on a former battlefield or an ancient burial ground? (Remember “Poltergeist”?)

“In New Mexico we have a lot of trapped Native American energies on or near properties that need to be moved on,” says Phillips.

Another option is to check DiedInHouse.com, an online resource that allows users access to the death records of specific addresses.

Talk to neighbors

Neighbors usually have the 411 on all things going on in the neighborhood, and that likely includes any rumors about a local haunted house.

If you see any neighbors out walking their dog or raking leaves, try striking up a conversation with them, particularly those who have lived in the neighborhood for a while.

“Not surprisingly, some sellers may be tight-lipped about paranormal activity, so you want to talk to the neighbors,” says Bull.

Check the buy, sell, and repair history of the house

Another tidbit of information that may reveal some interesting clues about the house’s past is in its buy and sell history. Did the house lose value? Does it have a history of being bought and sold several times over the years? That could mean there’s something uncanny about the house that keeps people from settling in.

“If it’s something you are nervous about, ask! Sellers and their representatives are required to disclose what they know when asked a pointed question,” says Bull.

Phillips says to also look into whether there has been an unusual amount of repairs on the property in the past few years, which could indicate paranormal activity.

“I’ve cleared houses simply because the owners have had three broken water heaters in one year, or because their list of repairs was never-ending,” says Phillips.

Call in the ghostbusters

Want to be extra, extra sure your potential future home isn’t inhabited by a ghostly presence? Call in the professionals. A medium or paranormal investigator can perform services that are aimed at clearing the house of uninvited guests.

Phillips has performed 300 clearings of unwanted spirits, mostly residential and mostly for real estate agents.

“I recommend that anyone purchasing a new residence hire a professional to do paranormal energy clearing before moving into the space,” Phillips says. “We arrange for the physical cleaning of our homes, and it’s good practice to also clear the energetics.”

The post How to Avoid Unexpectedly Buying a Haunted House—Because It Could Happen to You appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

6 Jaw-Droppingly Candid ‘For Sale’ Signs That Prove Creativity Can Get You Noticed

August 7, 2018

Home sellers—and their real estate agents—go to great lengths to capture the attention of potential buyers. Some dress up in a dinosaur costume to make the listing photos stand out, some offer freebies such as tacos or beer with the purchase of the home, and some host over-the-top open houses with live entertainment and a buffet of fancy finger food.

Clever as those marketing methods are, one of the best ways to create buzz about your home is far more basic: a “For Sale” sign that will stop people in their tracks. A humorous phrase or an earnest observation about your home plastered on a sign in your front yard can do a lot. At the worst, you’ll have spent a few bucks on a custom sign. But at the best, your efforts could go viral—and the more eyes on your home, the more likely you are to land a buyer.

So what would you write if you were to forgo the traditional “For Sale” sign? We found six cheeky examples that are in a league of their own.

1. A scorned wife gets sweet revenge

funny for sale signs
Airing your dirty laundry is one way to grab people’s attention.

HLN/YouTube

As a seller, you’re supposed to be upfront and honest with your buyer. But airing your dirty laundry on your sign? Well, you’ll certainly grab people’s attention.

Facing competition from a lot of short sales in her suburban Oregon neighborhood, photographer and blogger Elle Zober knew she had to stand out from the competition. So she drew on the tale of her cheating husband to sell the family home. Surprisingly, he was supportive of the sign and even helped cover the cost of creating it! Much to the couple’s surprise, the sign went viral overnight, and the house was sold in 23 days. And yes, they’re now divorced.

2. Prime location

funny for sale signs
This banner calls out one of the benefits of the home: that it’s front and center for the annual summer parade.

Adam White

Good location doesn’t just have to mean your home is in a good school district or near world-class ski resorts. When Adam White of Snowflake, AZ, saw his house sit on the market for 90 days without a single inquiry, he knew he had to talk up one prime selling point of his home: that it’s right on the route of his town’s annual parade.

“There is a parade here every year in late July, which is a big deal for the area, and it brings in several thousand visitors to the town,” he says. To draw attention to his house during this year’s festivities, he placed a large banner on the side of his house that read, “Get these seats to the parade every year.”

“People were taking pictures of the banner during the parade. We had over 40 people come through the house, several who expressed real interest,” he says. “I was pretty surprised at how well the banner worked.”

Folks are continuing to express interest in the home, and White feels confident he’ll have a buyer before long.

3. No ghosts, no problem

funny for sale signs
No ghosts here!

Jeff Mason/YouTube

When a home listing has become stale without a single buyer in sight, desperate times call for desperate measures. Real estate agent Jeff Mason decided to have some fun with this ramshackle home in Coeur d’Alene, ID, which had been on the market for 10 years. He added a plastic $10 sign with the words “Not Haunted” onto the “For Sale” sign outside the house.

“It’s our job as Realtors® to generate buzz no matter what the property is,” Mason told KREM-TV. “I’ve gotten more calls since I put that sign up than when I started listing the property.”

The home still hasn’t sold, but maybe they just haven’t found the right person to take on this fixer-upper.

4. Noise won’t be an issue

funny street signs
You’ll never have a noise complaint on this street!

reddit

Living across from a cemetery might freak some buyers out, but Pittsford, NY, real estate agent Mary Shelsby played up the obvious—and turned it into a positive—on her hilarious “For Sale” sign.

When buyers rolled up to the open house, they no doubt saw the cemetery, but they were also greeted by a sign that said “Quiet neighbors across the street!”

She also had a second sign made that read, “Great bones,” but never had a chance to use it—the home sold too fast.

5. Who doesn’t like the word ‘free’?

funny for sale signs
A sign offering free pizza would certainly grab our attention.

wgaltv/YouTube

There’s nothing like the promise of free food to draw people in. Real estate agent Doug Miller decided to appeal to buyers’ stomachs with a sign that said “Free pizza with purchase of home” in an attempt to boost the profile of a house he’d been trying to sell for six months.

“I just thought it was kind of cute to drive attention, and it seems to be working,” he told WGAL-TV.

We’re not sure if his offer of a complimentary pie with purchase was enough to garner a buyer. Now if it had been a year’s worth of free pizza on the table, that would have been a whole different story!

6. Get to the point

funny for sale signs
Sometimes you just have to be honest about a price reduction.

Bill McSpadden

When some buyers see that a home’s price has been slashed, they may think the seller is desperate to unload the property, and that they can score an even bigger discount. However, Knoxville, TN, real estate agent Bill McSpadden made sure that wasn’t the case with his client’s listing. How’d he relay the message? With this sign that bluntly states, “Reduced, But Not Stupid or Desperate.” Duly noted.

The post 6 Jaw-Droppingly Candid ‘For Sale’ Signs That Prove Creativity Can Get You Noticed appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.