HIGHTOWER: Selling Disaster Properties

Time for another journey [space music] into the Far, Far, FAR-OUT World of Free Enterprise.Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into an odd, highly-specialized sphere of real estate called "diminution value" properties. These are homes and other buildings where the karma is not very conducive to quick sales. I'm talking about places where bad things have happened -- things like murder.For example, the Los Angeles townhouse where Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were brutally murdered. The question for "diminution value" real estate appraiser Randall Bell is not "Did OJ do it," but "How much can I get for this blood-stained property?"In the world of Realtors, Bell is known as "Mr. Disaster" -- a property appraiser who is paid $295-an-hour to put a price on real estate that has a dark past ... then sell it. He did sell the Nicole Simpson property, and he has also helped market the homes where Jon Benet Ramsey and Sharon Tate were slain, as well as the apartment complex where Jeffrey Dahmer kept the mutilated and dismembered bodies of his victims.Presently, Bell is showing the Southern California mansion where 39 members of the "Heaven's Gate" cult committed suicide last March. AP reporter Cynthia Webb recently toured this seven-bedroom property with Bell, who pointed-out a freshly-cleaned pink carpet where, he said, "there used to be big blood stains, and they are simply not there anymore, which is nice." Yes, isn't it?You can see why Bell gets the big bucks, since his selling points have to include the fact that there are no longer "big blood stains" on the carpet. He's even developed the "Bell Chart," a real estate Richter Scale that ranks a property's disaster quotient from one to ten, with a ten being "hopeless."This is Jim Hightower saying ... It's a very strange world out here on the fringes of free enterprise.Source:'Mr. Disaster' polishes image of real estate with a dark past" by Cynthia Webb. Austin American-Statesman: Nov. 7, 1997.

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