FOR SALE: $2,300,000
“Stunning, updated, classic Uni-Hill home. Elegance of past generations combined with modern updates make this home unique. Huge rooms, great light and an over-sized, gated lot on a fine street just a short walk from CU and Chautauqua. Beautiful high-end kitchen, a large terrace with a view and a master suite which encompasses the entire upper level and has stunning views. Nicely finished basement with high end finishes, wet bar & wine cellar. Too many features to mention in this beautiful home.”
One of those “features”: JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in that nicely finished basement, and was almost certainly murdered in the house.
Only a couple of municipalities have laws requiring sellers to divulge these kind of disturbing details; it is firmly in the realm of “let the buyer beware” (of the headless ghost who howls in the master bedroom every night). The listing is still deceptive for what it omits, and unethical. It is a near certainty that a lot of potential buyers would prefer not to live in a house that was the scene of a murder, some more who don’t want to reside where there was a high-profile murder, and an additional batch who would recoil from the idea living at the scene of a child’s murder. Then there is the fact that this murder remains unsolved. Maybe the killer’s plan is to make regular visits, say every 20 years or so.
All of this means that full disclosure lowers the value of the house, which means that the asking price is based on deception. Realtors will give you a lot of standard rationalizations for the practice of trying to keep murders and suicides hush-hush.
“Oh, something bad has happened in every old house!”
“All they have to do is ask!”
“What difference does it make? That was a long time ago!”
“Oh, everybody knows about it anyway!”
The truth is still this: there is something about the $2,300,000 house that makes it undesirable to a lot of prospects, and that means that even if the law doesn’t require the seller to tell interested house-hunters the story of the little dead girl in the basement, fairness and the Golden Rule do.