The Market

Half off a murder apartment: would you take it?

By Leigh Kamping-Carder  | November 12, 2014 - 12:59PM

It’s a killer deal, you might say. A rental apartment for half the priceas long as you’re comfortable living in a former crime scene. In Hong Kong, a discount on homes where grisly murders took place is common, Bloomberg reports, and landlords will frequently knock 10 to 20 percent off the rent for rentals with a cursed past, and more than twice that if the killing was particularly “sinister.” (Think the double suicide of a cash-strapped couple or a mother’s bludgeoning at the hands of a neighbor.) Known as “hung jaak,” or “haunted apartments” in Cantonese, there are roughly 190 of these abodes in Hong Kong, according to a database that tracks them. (Yes, there is a database that tracks them, complete with brief descriptions of the murders.)

In a hot market like New York’s, where similar superstitions hold less sway, you’re unlikely to get the same kind of discount, appraiser Jonathan Miller tells Bloomberg. And a “grisly crime” isn’t generally something New York State brokers are required to disclose to potential buyers or renters, though if you’re superstitious or squeamish, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you discovered an apartment had a gruesome history (and a price tag to match), would you still take it? We conducted an informal poll of New Yorkers, including Brick’s editors, and asked them: would you take an apartment with a scary past if it were 50 percent off?

  • “Hmm, it would depend on the type of murder. I would be more inclined to overlook a quick crime of passion versus a Jeffrey Dahmer situation or other sadistic scenario.” Jane
  • “Yes. A cheap apartment and a built-in anecdote for your next dinner party? I’m sold.” —​ Leigh
  • “I am far too anxious to live in a place like that. How would you not have nightmares?! I appreciate a good real estate deal as much as anyone, but this just seems too morbid. I prefer to be ignorant of my apartment's past and would like to think that happy memories were made here.” Lucy
  • "The one condo I owned in Miami was left behind when an elderly woman passed away. That’s the first time I thought about death’s shadow on real estate. I decided at the time that I would be fine with it if she had passed in the apartment. But it was a point of reflection, and if I had another opportunity to buy with all other things being equal, I think I’d opt out of having to deal with the question and go with the other place. Necessity trumps being choosy, and I’d only avoid a highly discounted rental if the event was covered in the media and was disturbing. For purchase, I think I would be more choosy—as long as I could afford to." —​Zeb
  • "Case by case basis. If it's an Amityville Horror-scale problem we're talking about, then definitely not (besides ghosts, those kind of places probably attract real-life crazies). But a run-of-the-mill death or even a low-key haunting would be fine, especially if the place is that heavily discounted." - Virginia


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