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Distressed Properties: 10 Houses Worth Considering When Buying

By , March 15th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

haunted house

When it comes to buying property, the often repeated phrase is location, location, location. And while these three words are definitely worth living by if you can afford to, if you are really on a budget, there are ways to get houses on a discount that make them undesirable to many people, but may not necessarily make them a bad option for yourself. That is by looking for distressed properties — those properties that are in perfectly good shape, but have something about them that may turn off potential buyers.

Considering distressed properties can be an excellent way to get a house in an area where you might not normally be able to afford it. While this certainly isn’t for everyone, and it is essential to remember that when you sell, you are probably going to have to have to sell at a discount for a similar reason, it can be an excellent way of getting kids into a better school district or into an upper scale housing area for much less. Here are a number of distressed properties that are worth considering while house hunting:

Near a Graveyard

If you’re extremely superstitious, buying a house near a graveyard might not be the best option. If you’re not superstitious, you should consider checking out any houses on the market that are close to cemeteries. Houses near graveyards are generally cheaper and they’re usually located in a quieter neighborhood.

Haunted Houses

A lot of people are wary about even entering houses that are said to be haunted, let alone living in one. Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, houses with supposed paranormal activity are usually put on the market at a very low price. Depending on the state you’re looking in, you might even luck out by buying an otherwise gorgeous house. There are plenty of well-kept, gorgeous homes around the East Coast that would normally be on the market for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but their “haunted” status has drastically decreased their selling price.

Murder or Suicide

Distressed properties where a murder or suicide once occurred are a hard sell in the real estate market. Like most of the properties on this list, stigmatization will cause the market price to be drastically lowered. There aren’t many people who would be comfortable living in a house where a murder or suicide happened. However, places you visit everyday can also be locations where murders or suicides have occurred. The important thing is to not let your imagination run away with you.

Criminal Activity

Houses that were previously used as drug dens, gang locations, or brothels are another hard sell for the real estate market. Similar to houses with paranormal occurrences or a history of murder, properties that used to house criminal activity will usually be on the market at a discount. Chances are that the property has been renovated and off the market long enough that the people who used to reside in the property are no longer associated with it.


Properties that were abandoned by previous tenants due to debt are another type of distressed property you should consider buying. These properties are also a hard sell because collection agencies usually keep trying to call or approach the house to collect on what they’re owed. But you shouldn’t let this sway your decision as it’s easy enough to get rid of collection agencies. One way is to have your real estate agent contact the agency and inform them different tenants now occupy the property.

Famous Properties

Famous properties can range from a house formerly owned by a celebrity, a house used in a movie or television series, or a house where a famous murder occurred or cult resided. Home owners usually fear that eager and curious fans will come knocking on the door, asking to see the house. Of course, this is easily combated by installing a security system, a wall or gate to prevent people from approaching.

Properties Once Owned by Hoarders

Currently, reality shows about hoarders have become incredibly popular, making people wary about buying a house that was once owned by an intense hoarder. They’re worried about leftover items in the walls, rooms, basements, attics, or garages that the real estate companies overlooked. Of course, those television programs usually show the most extreme cases, and those cases often result in the house being demolished instead of renovated and sold. Any house that’s on the market and has the reputation for once being the home of a hoarder should be perfectly fine to buy. If you have any reservations, mention this to the home inspector so they can take special care when inspecting the property.

Testing Sites or Military Bases

Properties near testing sites or military bases are usually unpopular, mostly due to the noise and traffic. Of course, they’re also significantly cheaper for these same reasons. Noise is easy enough to block out, especially the more you get used to it. If you can overcome heavy traffic patterns or noises, you should definitely look into properties near areas that may be a bit more noisy. Most of these properties are also in locations that are safely away from the base or testing site, so you don’t need to worry about an additional danger either.

Properties Near Power Lines or Underground Pipelines

Many people have environmental concerns when they move into a new house. Buying a distressed property near power lines, cell phone towers, or underground pipelines could fall into that environmental category. Properties near these amenities or locations are always sanctioned before being built, so they’re perfectly safe. And, like the other properties on this list, they’re probably cheaper due to their proximity to these items.

Near Airports or Highways

Properties near airports or highways do get a lot of noise from traffic, which is why they’re usually set at a low price when they’re put on the market. However, as stated before, if you can learn to tune out the noise – or if it doesn’t actually bother you – these types of properties are a great deal. Plus, you’re always close to the airport or highway!

In the end, you need to feel comfortable with any house that you purchase. If you are less superstitious, able to handle a bit more noise or are less concerned about the previous owners than most people, there is a great chance to get a nice house at a bargain price by seeing an opportunity where others don’t.

(Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee)

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  • Sara says:

    Are you kidding me?…Kids will have access to better schools??? Buying a house for cheap regardless of the potential hazards (especially to your children – ie. demons, spirits, hauntings) is NOT worth it. Watch a few episodes of Paranormal State or Psychic Kids and maybe you’ll change your tune on that particular point – even if you are NOT a believer, the risks are documented and you cannot refute the evidence. Also, houses near power towers are NOT safe and there is probably over a hundred studies showing a higher incidence of brain related disease – including increased or sudden increase in migraines, brain cancer, etc….I just think these two points, in particular are a little naiively presented and should not be so loosely promoted as ‘perfectly safe’ because they’ve been sanctioned. THey’re NOT. They’ve passed a bare minimum.

  • Edith says:

    umm, Sarah, you do realize that ghosts, demons and spirits are not real? And that the shows that you mentioned are totally faked for entertainment reasons? The way that you reacted is exactly why that type of house is a great deal.

    • Arturo says:

      How do you know they’re not real? It’s just as easy to prove something wrong than to prove it right. By the way Sara is right in that it wouldn’t be good to buy a house close to a place that had hazardous materials for example. This places could not be good for your family’s health


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