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Dublin: 2°C Thursday 20 January 2022

Would you buy a house with a criminal past?

Serious crime can often have less of an impact on a house’s price than you might think.

Image: Shutterstock/BasPhoto

THERE ARE A number of things that can affect a house’s value.

Its location, the condition it’s in and additional interior factors can all impact on price.

But what about when a serious crime has been committed in a property?

Does something like that drag the house’s price down? Or does the property-buying public actually worry about their new home’s murky past?


Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Brian Dempsey, a partner with estate agent DNG, explained that “it is one of those things that doesn’t seem to stick the way that it should”.

“If you are selling a house, there are very few people who will ask you ‘was this house previously the scene of a high profile murder’… I would believe in being straight with people from the start.” He adds:

People tend to know about it and if they don’t they will find out about it very quickly – newspapers are normally alert to these sorts of things.

For Dempsey, house prices are not easily shaken by crime:

“For something to have the valuation reduced, it really would have to be something very extreme. The likes of Fred West or Jimmy Savile. But in that instance the house would be knocked down.”

I suppose that can be the rule of thumb – if it’s getting knocked down, the value is affected.


Speaking to TheJournal.ie, an estate agent, who did not wish to be named, sold a house in Dublin in which a high-profile murder had been committed.

“I have only ever in my 20-plus years have I had one house where that was the situation. Never anything since then,” he said.

There were probably seven out of 10 people who ran out of the house when they heard what had happened. There were always people though who that sort of thing didn’t affect them. They had their own religious beliefs and once a house was blessed or whatever it wasn’t an issue for them.

“The house did attract a lot of attention and I would say that some of the people that came was because they were nosy… there was two or three who were going to buy it – and their families played a part in talking them out of it.”

On the final selling price of the house, he said, “it was a tad cheaper. Probably about 10%. That was because I decided to be upfront with people about what had happened… I have been very blessed that I haven’t had to deal with that since.”

House prices

While a house having an association with a high-profile crime might bring about a small reduction in price – for Brian Dempsey, often it is more prosaic issues that stop a property reaching its full market value.

“Often if a place has had some serious crime involved in it – you might find a situation where a company has come in and cleaned out the house – sometimes people pray on these houses looking for a good little buys, but that doesn’t happen because everyone has the same idea,” said Dempsey.

What would affect me more is if we arrive up to the house and there are students in blasting music – that could affect value more than maybe someone being killed in the house.

Read: The Pirate Bay has been taken down after Swedish police seized servers

Also: Most Irish people say they won’t be able to buy a house next year

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