Who doesn’t remember the movie Ghostbusters, the blockbuster hit of the mid-1980s, or the girl power sequel that hit theatres just a few years ago?  While the topic of ghosts may be entertaining for some, for others, not so much.  You’re probably wondering just what this has to do with real estate.  Consider the following discussion of ghosts, murder, and landscaping that came up at our weekly office meeting the other day.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Would you purchase a home if the owner believes a ghost is living in the home?
  2. What if a murder or suicide occurred in the home you were considering purchasing or selling?

As a homeowner or purchaser, your answers to these questions, no doubt, will differ.  As realtors, these questions lead us to contemplate the effect that such a “stigma” can have on a property.

According to The English Cambridge Dictionary a stigma is defined as “a strong feeling of disapproval that most people in a society have about something, especially when this is unfair.”

In real estate, stigmas usually have a negative effect on the sale of a property.  Often stigmas cause a property to take longer to sell and for less than it’s worth.  Media exposure and rumours can also impact value.

Let’s take, for example, the horrific events of the alleged landscaper serial killer in Toronto.  It’s alleged that the killer buried his victims in large planters at his clients’ homes.  What affect could this “stigma” have on the value of these properties and their salability?   The same can be said for a home that is considered to be “haunted.”  Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts or not, these types of “stigmas” can affect the marketability of a property in the past, present, and for years to come.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at this excellent article written by Mark Weisleder.  The article breaks down 5 important factors to consider when it comes to property stigma.

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