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16 October 2008

Taking Advantage of Suicide Discount in Real Estate

Finding an apartment in one of the world's most expensive cities is a grave matter, but some savvy renters in Tokyo have more than a ghost of a chance of finding prime digs – they seek to rent where someone else bought the farm. Imagine lying awake at night in your new apartment, restless and not yet accustomed to the usual night noises. Your mind drifts, then settles on the great deal you got on this place – and WHY you got it. A creak; a sigh; is it just the evening breeze, or something more sinister?

If you're not an insomniac now, living where a suicide - or worse, a murder - has occurred just might make you one. The flip side? Who needs sleep when you're paying only ¾ of what you normally would?

The so-called suicide discount is an unwritten rule adhered to by most Tokyo real estate agents and doubtless by realtors worldwide. In Japan at least, the law compels real estate agents to make potential tenants aware if a death occurred in the unit being offered. One small catch is that the law applies only when the unfortunate event concerned the occupant immediately previous, but as one realtor admitted, "Even if we didn’t, neighbors would certainly tell new residents about the gruesome details."

While few people can completely shrug off the fact their new abode has a questionable history, it's likely everyone expects a substantial cut in their rent as a result. "I definitely agree that there is a suicide discount," stated a local Tokyo real estate agent. "Late last year we bought an apartment for a client where the previous owner had committed suicide. In this case the discount over normal market prices was about 25% even though the apartment had been completely remodeled and a purification ceremony had been held by the local shrine." Seems like Tokyoites have more faith in the power of the yen than in the local ghostbusters!

One curious point brought up by a Tokyo real estate company owner was that young women are the most typical renters of apartments with shady histories. "Men, rather than women, tend to be superstitious and think the place will be haunted by the victim or something," he stated. Women are also well-connected with the online real estate scene. "They exchange information on the availability of such places and what the rent is likely to be with each other online."

I don't know about you, but nothing says "bad karma" more than moving into an apartment whose last resident dies un-naturally. It's a plot used in many a movie, most recently "1408" the number of a horrid hotel suite where 56 met their deaths, one after another in the grisliest of manners.

Save money? I'd prefer to save my life.

Article by Steve Levenstein from Inventor Spot. Submit your thoughts - click here!

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