What Should Happen To Murder Houses?

As you know, one of my particular kinks is true-crime real estate, and the marketing and sale of so-called murder houses like the Glendower Place home that’s reportedly in escrow now, or whatever Zak Bagans is going to do with the LaBianca house.

Less high profile are my obsessions with 228 Clara Street (an SF home in which its owner’s head was found in a fish tank, sold for $1.5 million last summer, and since occupied by squatters and tenants) and the building Best Evidence subscriber Brock Keeling lives in, which according to long-gone SF message-board posts was the site of a crime in which “a guy chained a magician to the fireplace, assaulted him for days, then killed him,” Keeling says.

Sarah notes that in many cases, the sellers try to muddy the waters a bit by (as in the case of the Cielo Drive home where Sharon Tate was killed) changing the address, while other owners demolish the property (O.J. Simpson’s Brentwood mansion).

The real-estate term for all these places, from Brock’s apartment building to another of my obsessions, Fox Hollow Farm, is “stigmatized property,” and laws vary from state to state about how much a real estate agent must disclose. (And if you’re just a renter, forget it, in most places they don’t have to tell you jack.)

So, here’s the question: Would hearing that a home you were looking at was the site of a crime make you more or less interested in moving in? If less, how much renovation has to go down to make it feel more palatable? Are there some crimes you’d let slide, and others where the only solution is to burn the place down and plant some nice trees? — EB