The Stigmatized House
The Stigmatized House
There were 160 single family homes sold in September in the fourteen Lakes Region communities covered by this market report. The average sales price came in at $42,871 and the median price point stood at $318,250. That brings us to a total of 1,089 sales for the year at an average price of $422,733 compared to 1,062 sales at a price of $398,361 for the same period last year.
In real estate lingo, the house at 43 Greenbriar Farm Rd in Laconia was one of those homes you would classify as a stigmatized property. This hundred-year-old property had a long and sordid reputation as being an extremely unlucky house to live in.
It’s true, the son of the first owner of this 1920 vintage farmhouse died young, shortly before completing basic training in the Army in 1943. He jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet and his parachute failed to open. He was eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but the parents flatly refused. He was brought back home and was buried in the back yard. It’s a sad story, but that’s really hard to blame on the house.
The second owners were a young couple with two little girls, Sally and Sara. It was apparently a very unhappy marriage and the neighbors reported lots of loud arguments, screaming, and sounds of glass breaking on a number of occasions. The cops were always there it seemed. This went on for a couple of years until one night late in October of 1972 when a single gunshot caused the neighbors to summon the police once again. The police arrived to find no one on the main living levels. They went down the dimly lit stairs to the basement to find the husband sitting in a chair at the far end of the basement next to the washer and dryer. His head was only partly there as a result of a gunshot wound. A 12-gauge pump action shotgun was lying on the floor beside him. It was never determined if this was a murder or suicide. Sally, Sara, and their Mom were nowhere to be found and were never heard from or seen again.
The third owner also met an untimely demise when the blender he was using to make his second pitcher of margaritas for the afternoon was knocked into the sink by a not so sober friend. Unfortunately, he was washing his hands in the sink to get barbecue sauce off his hands at the same time. This was his last barbecue and it certainly was well done.
The current owner has now hired me to sell this run down, charming but rather tainted property. I know all this history because of the special investigation done by NH Chronicle and from the more intimate details now provided by the current owner. It turns out he only bought the place because he got it for a song at a tax sale. He thought he could make some money on it. He had never seen the Chronicle TV show, but his neighbors were more than happy to fill him in on the grisly details after he purchased it. Neighbors are like that.
He, by the way, has never really lived there. He spent just one night there and the strange noises kept him up all night. He said he thought he heard the rustling of a parachute, the muted whirring of a blender, and faint giggles and voices of little children. He realized the place really could be haunted and that his expected windfall when he sold could be minimal.
But he filled out the listing paperwork and disclosures. I informed him that if was going to represent him that I will inform any buyer about the property’s somewhat grisly history. There may not be a place on the seller’s property disclosure form for this kind of thing, but I certainly would want someone to tell me all about it if I were buying the place. He hedged a bit, worried about how this would affect the marketability and sales price. I told him not to worry, not everyone believes in ghosts.
I put the property in the MLS system, sent out flyers to all the agents in the area, advertised it in the local papers, and did a couple of open houses. We went three weeks without a showing. Then I got a call one morning from a lady that said she just got back to town after a long absence. She was looking for a home for her family and she said she knew the area. We scheduled a showing for that same afternoon.
I got to the house shortly before the appointed time and opened the blinds and curtains and turned on all the lights. As I was just finishing, a car pulled in and a young lady got out. I met her at the door and greeted her. I had her fill out the required Brokerage Relationship Disclosure forms and invited her to look around. She just kind of stood there and stared. She barely moved for a couple of minutes. I started to try and strike up a conversation when she suddenly raised her hand as if to tell me to be quiet. She asked, “What is that noise?” I took a deep breath and held it. I could hear the unmistakable, but barely audible sounds of ice rattling around in a blender…except there was no blender in the house. “It could be the pipes?” I said optimistically.
I told her that there were some things I needed to tell her about the history of the house. You know like the first owner’s son fell out of an airplane and is buried out back, that the second owner either was killed or committed suicide in the basement, and that the third owner was electrocuted by a run-a-way blender in the kitchen.
The young lady listened thoughtfully and asked if I thought the house was a good deal. I told her we had priced it to sell based on the fact that some people don’t want to buy a house where there have been violent deaths or murders and that some people believe the house could be haunted.
To my surprise she said, “I don’t believe in ghosts at all. If I can get a good deal on this place I will put in an offer. It feels like home. Let’s write it up!” She walked back to the front door and waived to whomever was in the car to come on in.
Somewhat stunned, I said “But ma’am, you haven’t even looked at the house yet. Don’t you want to see what it’s like?”
She turned back as her two young children came in the front door and said, “That’s OK it is not really necessary! This is Sally and Sara. We’ve seen this house before. Let’s write up the offer!
Data compiled using the NEREN MLS system.