WITH BARGAINS HARD TO FIND, DESPERATE HOMEBUYERS LOOK TO “MURDER HOMES”
“I’m not afraid of ghosts, just afraid of poverty,” prospective homebuyer Zhou Qu quoted a common saying on Meiri Renwu, a Wechat account dedicated to long-form personal essays.
Inspired by a story in June of a “haunted” Nanjing villa that was put up for auction for one-fourth its market value, Zhou began to contact agents about other properties with dark histories, hoping to find a bargain that could “rekindle” his long-dead dream of owning an apartment in Beijing.
It was easier said than done. Properties known as xiongzhai (凶宅, “murder residences”) generally refer to homes that have seen any sort of unnatural or untimely death. These
xiongzhai are normally considered unlucky to live in, or even to own, meaning they usually can only sell for a fraction of the real value—but legal complications and, more recently, rising demand, are eroding even that tradition.
Just like Hong Kong and Tokyo, two other infamously overheated property markets, the high cost of housing is forcing buyers to reconsider their superstitions—and the market is slowly reflecting the change. Though a quick roadside survey by Takefoto.cn found that only one out of 13 respondents would consider buying a xiongzhai, even at a steep discount, 22 buyers were willing to pay the 30,000 RMB deposit to bid on the Nanjing villa (the site of a gruesome 2011 axe murder and dismemberment), which