The spooky cost cemeteries can have on your home’s value

“Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!” This quote, made famous by Judy Garland as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” could certainly apply to residential real estate, but with different areas of concern.

Many agents are loath to show you houses for sale that are adjacent to a cemetery, also shunning any house near a cell tower or a high tension power line. But should you care or not?  

FOX 5 real estate expert John Adams says there are some situations your might want to avoid.

Appraisers have come to the conclusion that a house backing up to a cemetery might bring a lower price than a similar home not adjacent to a cemetery. Buyers also may be concerned about tower fall zones – defined as the area surrounding a cell tower or radio or tv tower.  In other words, if the tower were to fall for any reason, would any improvement on your property be potentially damaged? 

These things are considered by appraisers to be “hazards and nuisances” that might be considered a negative by some buyers.

For example, Adams once listed and sold a century-old restored home in downtown Decatur, located on Church Street and literally backing up to the Decatur Cemetery. You could see headstones from the deck on the back of the house.  

More than one prospective buyer told him point-blank that they could never live next door to a cemetery because they were scared of possible interactions with spirits of the deceased.  

While Adams believe most buyers could overlook this factor, it is certainly something to consider, even if it causes you no concern whatsoever. Some day, you will likely want to sell that home and move on with your life.

If even a relatively small percentage of buyers might feel uncomfortable living next to a cemetery, the likelihood of a quick sale declines, and the price you eventually accept may have to be lowered. How much, no one can say, but it is a real factor.

For tower fall zones, HUD actually requires residential appraisers to make adjustments for hazards such as the potential of damage from towers and antennas on or near the property.

But in Adams’ opinion, it’s pretty much the same because the likelihood of damage from a falling tower is somewhere between zero and none.

While that number may be low, what Adams says it’s important to understand is that unusual factors like ghosts and radio towers can and often do have an impact on home values.

If you are buying, one strategy might be to look for properties that might scare off some buyers and make a low offer on the property.  By citing the defect, such as a ghost encounter or a falling tower, you might end up with a bargain.

On the other hand, his advice to sellers is to fully disclose, in writing, everything that might lower your home’s value to a prospective buyer.

Home buyers are human beings, and human beings love to worry.  

Sometimes, we worry about things that are very unlikely to happen, such as a ghost encounter or haunting.  Other times, we worry about things like falling towers, again very unlikely, but at least a real and visible threat.  

The bottom line is to know and understand that we are humans, and as such, we sometimes make decisions based on unreasonable fears. Knowing that fact in advance might help both buyers and sellers find success in achieving their real estate goals.