Living with the past

 The photo above, courtesy of Wikipedia, is of the house where Lizzie Borden murdered her parents. It's currently a bed and breakfast.

MSN Real Estate's blog made note that the home of serial killer Dorothea Puente was recently sold. Not only are the new owners aware of the house's history, they seem to be OK with it. Of course, one of them is a mystery writer, but the real reason they fell for the house is the same many of us do: a beautiful structure (a Victorian) in a desirable location (Sacramento).

Still, living in a house with such a notorious history could have turned many people off. Here are some factors we think you should consider (consulting appropriate legal experts as the situation warrants, of course):

  • Does your city/county/zoning area require the disclosure of information such as deaths in the house or criminal activities? No one wants to learn about gruesome past events after the closing.
  • Does the activity that took place in the house affect the livability of it (e.g. a meth house)?
  • What exactly was the activity? In the example above, many people would not be comfortable living in a serial killer's house, let alone the house where the crimes were committed.
  • How long ago was the criminal activity? Maybe the house was recently splashed all over the news and you don't want the notoriety. Or maybe it was long ago and is now a morbidly fascinating history. After all, infamous ax murderess Lizzie Borden's house is now a bed and breakfast, where guests have the choice of sleeping in the rooms where her parents were murdered.
  • Can you live with it? A variety of factors from your comfort level to your belief system can influence this.
  • Is it worth it? What makes this house so special? Is it the notoriety that adds to the history? If you don't care about that, consider what features this house has that offset that. Is it in an amazing location? Is being sold for a rock bottom price? Does it have historical beauty? Is it spacious? Would you want to live in the house if you didn't know about its past?

Purchasing a house is a big decision and when you find out that your dream home housed a serial killer, it might be enough to make you change your mind. Or maybe that painstakingly, luxuriously restored Arts and Crafts bungalow in the perfect neighborhood makes the house's violent and/or criminal past worth it to you. What would you do?

Originally published on the MLuxe blog by Berit Griffin


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