STIGMATIZED PROPERTIES - Does the Notoriety Help or Hurt the Sale?

By
Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 NRDS ID#641625055

Serial KillersAt the end, it was the stench coming from the back of the Mazda pickup truck that led to his capture.

The state troopers on the Southern State Parkway tried to stop and ticket the driver who had no rear license plate. A high speed chase ensued and ended in Mineola, where Joel David Rifkin crashed right in front of the very same courthouse where he would later stand trial.

Dubbed a "prolific New York serial killer" Joel Rifkin, was convicted of killing 9 women but is believed to have killed as many as 17 during the years of 1989-1993. He is currently serving 203 years to life for 2nd degree murder in an upstate NY facility. His earliest parole date is February 26, 2197.

Joel Rifkin was adopted at a very early age. In 1987, his adopted father committed suicide in response to intolerable cancer pain. It may well have been a contributing factor to Rifkin's depression. Two years later, in 1989, he killed, dismembered and tossed his first victim in the East River.

Rifkin lived most of his life with his sister and elderly mother in the lovely suburban East Meadow neighborhood that is home to the outstanding Barnum Woods school district. With the recent passing of his mother, the house came up for sale. After 114 days on the market, this 1952 two-story, expanded ranch sold for $322,000 reduced from the original price of $424,500.

Peter Hirschhorn, my affable and industrious colleague from a former brokerage was the selling agent for this property. "This is a great home with an open floor plan and hardwood floors. All 4 bedrooms and 2 baths are nice-sized."

Stigmatized properties come with unique advertising issues. While they may be in excellent physical condition, the difficulty is in finding a buyer who doesn't mind and may even be attracted to its morbid history. An average buyer may worry about staying up nights reliving the residence's disturbing occurrences. He may be anxious that even years later, the house will still attract the thrill-seeking or macabre-minded who will stalk the property, as continues to happen to this day at the infamous Amityville Horror site.

Under New York State Disclosure laws, there is no requirement to notify a purchaser of a murder or other undesirable event which has taken place at a particular site. Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) is the key to a successful purchase.

Having said that, right from the start, the listing agent was upfront about the home's gruesome past. The new owners, a lovely family, didn't mind at all.

As the saying goes - "A cover for every pot."

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Graduate REALTOR Institute 

Jill Sackler, NYS Real Estate Broker Associate based on Long Island's South Shore
 
 

Sunny Isles, Fl 

 

  

     Specializing in Lifecycle Real Estate Transitions

"When your family doesn't fit your family home, I can help."
 
 
 
 
 
   
   

   

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Rainmaker
506,030
Ellen Caruso
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Glen Head, NY

Jill, I had a class recently on disclosure...sometimes it's not what we say but what the customer already knows because of the news, press, or google history. And when priced right they sell regardless.

Feb 24, 2011 01:10 PM #1
Rainmaker
484,123
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Jill, then of course there are the neighbors who mention the gruesome deaths to the new buyer after they move in. Even though the listing agent isn't required to disclose, the best practice (IMO) is to do as your colleage did and be upfront about it. Sounds like the buyers got a great deal on a good home and as long as the history didn't bother them, in this case it works.

Feb 24, 2011 01:44 PM #2
Ambassador
2,302,532
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

Hi Jill.  I recently had a listing where the husband hung himself in the barn the year before.  The widow did not want me to tell anyone about that.  I told her that if anyone asked about any deaths that occured in the property, I would disclose it.  They always find out from the neighbors as soon as they move in.  Well, her home didnt sell after 3 months so she decided to wait a year and try again.  Tricky situation though. Yikes!

Feb 25, 2011 12:19 AM #3
Rainmaker
759,451
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Belinda - It is a very challenging situation. I imagine there are many different levels of stigma as well.

Feb 25, 2011 12:27 AM #5
Rainmaker
5,470,196
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Very interesting topic. There are just too many potential stigmas to even have a conversation with a buyer.

 Life is good when there are flowers to photograph!

Mar 02, 2011 11:44 AM #6
Rainmaker
925,849
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

I guess as long as he didn't commit the murders on the property, I might not mind.

 

Thanks, Jill

May 03, 2012 04:11 AM #7
Rainmaker
759,451
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Ron, Actually, they were committed on the property. I believe it was in the garage, the basement, and even in his room. Youtube has an interesting 5 (10 minute) part interview series with him. It's called A & E Biography Joel Rifkin. He tells you the entire story himself.

May 03, 2012 10:34 PM #8
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Rainmaker
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Jill Sackler

LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate
Long Island Living - Where Memories Are Made
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