Horrible Histories: How Much Will This Affect Property Values?

Houses with an unsavoury history suffer from reduced property values

An unsavoury history: how much will this knock off Property Values?

While it may sound unbelievable, some homes have modern facilities, a perfect location and reasonable property values, yet they linger on the market for several months looking for a buyer. While these homes are in an ideal state of repair, buyers simply aren’t interested. That is because some houses have such horrible histories that the prospect of living there is unthinkable for most people. Homes with unsavoury reputations can struggle to achieve anything near average home sale prices for the area, and in many cases, demolished. However, some put on the market, and their terrifying past has a profound effect on property values.

Perhaps the most notable example of this ghoulish phenomenon can be found in the Muswell Hill area of London. On the face of it, the property listing for 23 Cranley Gardens is like any other in the area. The spacious flat located on the top floor of an attractive home in one of London’s most popular areas. However, alarm bells ring when the price revealed £265,000 when listed for sale in 2013 which is a bargain when compared to other house prices in the area. That is because 23 Cranley Gardens was the home of mass murderer Dennis Nilsen, and it was where he killed three of his fifteen victims before disposing of their bodies in nearby drains.

Proof that a home’s unsavoury history affects property values

Despite the property’s fantastic location and excellent state of repair, a recent property valuation returned an asking price nearly £100,000 less than average property prices in the area, incontrovertible proof that houses’ histories can have a huge effect on sale price. Unfortunately, there is nothing particular in UK property law that forces a vendor to disclose a property’s history of violence, so it can be incredibly difficult for an unsuspecting buyer to claim compensation in the courts after buying such a property.

In 2004, a dispute between the buyers and vendors of another infamous property ended up in the Court of Appeal to settle their differences. The case centred on a home in Wakefield that was the scene of a horrific murder of a child. The house bought in good faith by a family who lived in it happily until press clippings covering the 1980s murder were sent to the address anonymously. Horrified by the home’s terrible past, the property was eventually put up for sale; however, the family didn’t disclose the property’s awful story to their buyers.

The second family bought the home for its full market value, but they also discovered its unsavoury past when the girl’s murder featured in a Channel 5 TV documentary. The second family were so desperate to get out; they sold the home for just £75,000 – resulting in a loss of £25,000. The family sued the vendors for the difference on the basis that the withholding of information had misrepresented the value of the home. Although the judges found for the vendors, changes to English law mean sellers must disclose issues that are known to affect property values.

Of course, this phenomenon is also a great opportunity for investors or buyers on a tight budget. For people who are prepared to make their home in a building with such a terrible past, the savings available can be significant. Final house sale prices will usually only be affected by the most horrific and publicised cases, however, as people die in homes up and down the country every day. However, these two individual cases show just how much an unsavoury history can affect a property valuation. Fortunately, most houses with horrible histories are demolished immediately afterwards, so the chance of encountering problems during a home valuation is very low.

Nationwide, property values are broad and varied. What is important is that you are aware of anything which can adversely affect the price locally from one property to another when essentially they are the same. If while researching one of the portals, for example, Zoopla home prices, property values, then if one house looks an excellent buy, then it may well turn out to be too good to be true. Check there is no unsavoury history!

This article brought to you by Flying Homes. Call us now on 0800 68 99 420 or complete our quote request to find out if we can sell your home fast and with the minimum of fuss, we’ll help you to check property values, or you can do it yourself through Land Registry and what’s selling on Rightmove similar to your home!