Despite Corpses, Chicago House Sells in a Week

Chicago house with corpses sells in a weekAside from a short sale or an auction, it's pretty miraculous for any home to find a buyer in less than a week in this sour economy -- especially one that's been housing three dead bodies for decades.

In Chicago's lakeside community of Evanston, some may be suspicious of paranormal activity. According to Crain's Chicago Business, within a week of hitting the market, buyers made an offer on this five-bedroom Victorian home (left) despite the fact that it housed several dead bodies.

Sandra Brown, co-owner of Weichert Realtors-Lakeshore Partners who had the listing, argues that this situation is not out of the ordinary for home shoppers.
"They knew about it but they weren't put off," Brown told Crains. "Honestly, a lot of houses have people who died in them."

Yet the situation at the Evanston estate is not quite as simple as someone dying at home. For decades, an elderly woman, Margaret Bernstorff, was living in the property with the bodies of her three dead siblings, including one corpse that had been there since the 1970s.

The deaths started with Elaine Bernstorff passing away in the1970s, followed by Frank Bernstorff in 2003 and Anita Bernstorff in 2008. Each died of natural causes, police determined.

In 2008, police found the bodies of Ms. Bernstorff's siblings and the 90-something owner was moved into a nursing home. Last November, the home, owned by the Bernstorff's since the 1920s, hit the market.

While Brown declines to reveal the purchase price of the roughly 2,000-square-foot home, she says most homes in east Evanston sell in the range of $700,000 to $2 million. The deal to sell the house is expected to be finalized next month, she added.

But others speculate about how steep the discount must have been to unload a home with such a ghastly past.

"At some price someone will buy it," said Barbara O'Connor, another real estate sales agent in the area.

With Chicago's ghost house flying off the market, the biggest worry for the community may not be home sales -- but how Bernstorff's siblings feel about the sale.
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