The vandals came after “Ghost Adventures” featured the mansion on an episode that warned of a “nasty, evil spirit” that lurked inside. The homeowner fumed and sued. He wanted the Travel Channel show to pay damages.
But how do you calculate the effect that demons have on property value?
You ask Randall Bell.
The 54-year-old Laguna Beach resident is a doom-and-gloom real estate appraiser. He has carved out a singular niche, fielding calls from governments, big businesses, crime victims and international media, all seeking insight into the worth of stigmatized properties.
Bell specializes in this niche real estate. This Las Vegas mansion sustained fire damage and other degradation after the ghost hunting show aired in 2010. People broke into the house, which was used without permission. People performed rituals scrawling pentagrams and leaving crosses. The house had NO accounts of ghost, hauntings OR murders. But that didn’t matter. All that mattered is perception.
In death, celebrities and ordinary people are equal — their murders lower a property’s value by the same percentage, Bell says.
To figure out the lost property value, Bell treated the mob murders as if they were real. He scoured public records for other Las Vegas homes that were sold after murders, comparing their value to other home sales that had no ghoulish history.
Overall, properties (even if you remove the structure) that have been stigmatized by crimes, deaths or just scary stories, will lose value. This is surprising considering the state of paranormal tourism today. Yet, we have featured many stories about owners of locations that really do not want the added attention of a pop culture legend attached to their business or residents. Most people are not going to allow strangers to enter their property for curiosity seeking, ghost hunting or thrills.
In a growing number of states, the real estate agent must disclose a stigmatized property to potential buyers. It does not necessarily add legitimacy to the ideas of hauntings and curses because the value is, as Bell notes, due to perception. Reality has little to do with it. His advice? Ride it out. It may fade. He notes the house were the Manson Tate murder took place was sold for full market value.
Here are two additional stories regarding problems with stigmatized properties.