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Selling your Home after a Homicide Part I

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With the real estate market crash, people are being creative in their efforts to sell their homes. Placing a statue of St. Joseph upside-down in front of your house is a frequent recommendation. How this works when the “house” is a multi-storey condominium with a concrete sidewalk in front is unclear. I can imagine the clamor if I were to exit the elevator with a statue of St. Joseph and a jackhammer. One might well ask if this trick works for the non-Christian. All I can say is, you never know. I would strongly recommend against burying a Torah or a Qu’ran in the sidewalk, however. Strongly. Recommend. Against. Perhaps it’s best to postpone resolution of these religious issues and focus on the more practical: how do you sell your home after a homicide? When one of your steak knives is being referred to as “Exhibit A” you know you have a problem.

Fortunately, you’re in good company. The United States is the world’s murder capital and there are many who have faced this problem. You are not alone. In fact, your real estate professional has a set of guidelines to apply. After all, your realtor won’t make a commission if the crime scene sits vacant too long. How to sell a home after a homicide? This is called, “Managing Detrimental Conditions”:

In the event of a detrimental condition occurring (such as a stabbing in the kitchen-ed.note) there are a variety of actions a property owner may take to manage the situation. Following are issues to be considered:

1.Address the needs of the victims and families first.

Obviously, if the detrimental condition involves a tragedy such as an earthquake, fire, landslide (hurricane?) other natural disaster or a crime (notice how this last one just slipped in), the best approach is to just forget about the real estate (sure LOL) and make a determined attempt to assist the victims and their families. This could take many forms such as organizing a public donations drop point, financial support, an “information clearinghouse,” etc. Of course, full cooperation should be given to police, firefighters and paramedics.

Comment: There are seasoned professionals whose life work is to help victims of a disaster. You are not one of them. ‘Nuff said. The last thing police will want is for you to clutter their crime scene with a collection plate purportedly for the victims with no accounting controls whatsoever. The paramedics don’t need your help. Go away.

2. Consult with an Attorney

There is a wide range in the quality of legal representation available. Select an attorney who is experienced with the condition to provide legal oversight to the situation.

Comment: It may not be easy to find a “crime scene real estate attorney” on a moment’s notice. They rarely advertise. However, since there are lottery winners’ attorneys, there may be counsel who practice such sub-specialties. You normally have several months to cash a lottery ticket; with blood on the floor, you can’t take your time in finding representation. Please do not confuse this type of representation with legal representation if you are accused of or are complicit in the crime itself. I can guarantee you that your judge does not care how long the crime scene remains on the market. Criminal defense attorneys are easy to find: they are usually found in the presence of criminals (Duh).

3. Document All Activity

It is important to document activities, damage, comments and the removal of any possessions from the premises. Photographs and videos are helpful. This documentation may assist later in any insurance claims or litigation surrounding the incident.

Comment: A so-called “neighbor” caught running out the door with a television set may not be eager to stop and have his picture taken. But don’t worry: the perpetrator of the crime itself is long gone.

4. Secure the Property

Damaged properties may attract tourists and onlookers. While most people will respect the situation, some will attempt to take a ‘souvenir’ or looting may occur. The police will often secure a property during the course of an investigation; however, it becomes a property owner’s responsibility when they leave.

Comment: It’s difficult for the police to do their job with fifty or so tourists off the tour bus standing in line to use your bathroom. A television set does not constitute a ‘souvenir.’ It’s best not to schedule a ‘showing’ of the property if the white tape which outlined the body is still on the floor and the CSI team is running around taking pictures.

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Written by mokane

August 23, 2008 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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