You might be tempted to go with the flow and give “Yes!” as an answer to this question. Location does have an impact on any property’s value and it’s very interesting to see how graveyards shape the real estate market. Cemeteries are like a magnet with two poles – some are attracted to them, others find them appalling.
Some home buyers want to move away from the bustling city and homes around a graveyard usually provide the silence and the tranquillity they are after and are at the top of their list. Living next to a cemetery guarantees quiet neighbors (literally) and no noise complaints. Young people don’t mind living near a resting place, but the elderly, they don’t want to constantly be reminded of their next stop. So, how do houses near a cemetery behave from a real estate agent’s perspective?
Living near a cemetery: pros and cons
Buying a house near a cemetery may have an adverse effect on the home selling process in the future. Although living near a cemetery doesn’t automatically affect the home’s price, it does have the potential to drive down home prices. This is largely based on people’s personal beliefs and superstitions. Many people consider it taboo to live near a graveyard. If prospective home buyers don’t like the idea of living near a cemetery, then it can make the home selling process much more difficult.
Living near a cemetery doesn’t really affect your home’s value, instead, it shrinks the market. What does this mean? Due to cultural reasons, Indians and Asians do not want to live near a cemetery and this translates into fewer buyers who would consider purchasing such a property. For example, Chinese people only visit cemeteries one time a year, during Qingming (Tomb-Sweeping Day) and believe that it negatively alters the feng-shui and attracts bad energies. Indians hold similar beliefs, too. Hinduism and Vaastu greatly influence their buying behavior. For example, when the Beaverton School District wanted to build a new elementary school across the road from Bethany Presbyterian Cemetery, Indian parents raised an eyebrow. For them, cemeteries are places that are best avoided. Muslims believe the same and fear Jinn or Ghoul.
A house near a graveyard might stay longer on the market, waiting for a buyer – up to 48 days, according to Redfin. But it can also sell for a better price. There are not many statistics related to this, but a Redfin study from 2013 had revealed that homes near a cemetery are usually smaller but slightly pricier. After all, with so much greenery and trees, cemeteries are a pump of oxygen. And in some areas, it is safe to walk or do some physical activity, especially if you don’t have a home gym. In other regions, during the Toussaint day, graveyards turn into a celebration of the afterlife when thousands of candles are lit to light the path of the deceased and for a few hours, the scene is mesmerizing.
Another great thing about cemeteries is that the area is very unlikely to change in the future. Cemeteries are like a border or – to put it even better – a time trap. Here, things don’t change too fast and people who prefer stability and timeless values will not be disturbed by the idea of having a graveyard next door.
What hurts property value?
Toussaint is following another world-famous holiday – Halloween – celebrated on the last day of October. While it is no longer perceived as a pagan holiday, its Celtic origins are. Apart from celebrating the end of summer, the Celts believed that the ghosts of the dead revisited the Earth. To this day, many people are fascinated with the occult and believe in evil spirits or supernatural powers. What could really decrease the value of a property? The news that it might be haunted or that there takes place some kind of poltergeist activity drastically reduces the price. And many even remain deserted, like The Sallie House (Atchison, KA).
What makes property values decrease? Murders, suicides or stories of unusual deaths. Even more so if the property is close to a cemetery. Nobody wants to live in a house that could easily be the set of a horror movie. You must be a really brave real estate investor to purchase a house with an eerie and blurry history. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to cover the past. Even if you improve the curb appeal with the best home improvements and landscaping, a mischievous allusion from one of your neighbors could ruin any attempt to sell such a property.
Ironically, there is a demand for horror stories and the ones who would never live in a house near a cemetery have watched all the horror movies release to date. But only a few of them cash in on unsolved crimes and mysteries. Is it possible to turn something evil into a profitable business? Yes, for sure! No matter how strange it sounds, there are people who make a lot of money by exploiting properties that give uncanny feelings and thrills. For example, those looking for some shivers down the spine can spend a night in the Villisca Axe Murder House (Villisca, IA) for over $400.
Who said that a grim past cannot increase a property’s market value? This is the case of LaLaurie House (New Orleans, LA) located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Madame Delphine LaLaurie used to find satisfaction in mistreating her slaves and she often went far beyond cruelty. Before losing the home to foreclosure in 2009, actor Nicolas Cage owned the house for a while but was listed for sale in 2009 for $3.5 million due to foreclosure. That house is not near a cemetery. It actually has a cemetery in itself because Madame LaLaurie had been a serial killer. However, this property has also been the epitome of beauty and high class back in the 19th century – a sweet-sour combination that fascinates wealthy buyers. As the new owner, composer Michael Whalen invited interior designer Katie Scott to rethink the interiors.
When do you know that someone’s taken evil to the next level? When they are turning a haunted house into a bed and breakfast. This is the case of the current owners of Lizzie Borden House & Museum (Fall River, MA). It is believed that Lizzie Borden got away unpunished for murdering her parents on August 4, 1892. Now, 126 years later, it remains “America’s biggest unsolved murder mystery”. People can tour this house for $20/adult. Then, there is the Winchester House (San Jose, CA) – with daily tours priced between $20 and $49; Farnsworth House Inn (Gettysburg, PA), and Ferry Plantation House (Virginia Beach, VA).
Why people avoid living near a cemetery?
- Hollywood manipulation
Of course, Hollywood has it’s part in this story. All those zombie movies have increased the fear of living near a cemetery and stigmatized a place that represents a resting place for our loved ones after all. Horror movies that depict paranormal activity and behavior also turn people off. The top 3 horror movies of 2018 sold almost 52,000,000 tickets! Fifty-two million brains (re)programmed to think in a certain way. Hollywood is responsible for some devastating herd mentality not only in the US but also abroad.
- Religious beliefs
One of the most obvious reasons behind the buyer’s avoidance, strong-held religious beliefs, and cultural inheritance make real estate developments near cemeteries less appealing. For Muslims, for example, not only the location of the property is the problem, but also the fact that they cannot purchase it with a mortgage. The Koran forbids the payment of interest so the purchase of a house usually follows the road less traveled.
- Fear of losing money
From the beginning, the pool of potential buyer is considerably smaller. Home buyers who are not sure how long they’ll live in a certain place are usually concerned about the potential to recover all their money if they have to sell sooner. Due to all the pros and cons of living near a cemetery, the price of a house near a cemetery might have to be reduced if it doesn’t sell quickly. And nobody wants to lose money. Nevertheless, this kind of properties is an open door for house flippers.
- Fear of pain and sorrow
Living next to a cemetery means also spotting hearses or funeral cars, mourning families and crying children. So much sorrow and grief, although temporary, could become a burden for someone who is very empathetic, caring or introverted. Some home buyers want to stay away from anything that could cause depression or melancholy, while others simply don’t want to unearth old painful memories such as the loss of a baby or loved one.
In short, what increases or decreases a property’s value? People’s mentality. To change your reality, you have to change your mentality. And then you will be able to appreciate better the price of a property.