Human Bones Discovered at Ritzy Chicago Condo

Human Bones Discovered at Chicago HomeAnyone buying a new property runs the the worst-case scenarios through their head, but you might want to add one more to the list: Your home was once the site of a cemetery and they've just found human bones.

At a Chicago construction site of a 19th-century condo building in the ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood, officials verified last week that human bones were found about 18 inches below ground, according to The bodies may have been buried there in the mid-1800s when the plot of land was an Irish-Catholic cemetery.
Some historians are speculating that the bones are over 170 years old, which means they pre-date the Great Fire of 1871 that decimated over four square miles of land in Chicago and many principal structures like churches, hotels and even City Hall.

But this stately coach house at 1520 North State Parkway may have bigger problems lurking than skeletons. Can finding dead bodies devalue a property?

Real estate experts say that cemeteries generally have negative impacts on nearby home values because prospective buyers, who have superstitions or aversions to living close to cemeteries, are deterred.

"One time at the end of the block, there was a cemetery and [the buyer] would not even consider looking at the property," said Karen Breen Elia, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Chicago, who has worked with homes close to cemeteries on Chicago's near North Side."Some buyers are very adverse to living anywhere in sight of a cemetery. You are limiting your target market."

One recent exception was a house for sale in Evanston, which flew off the market in a week, even though it housed dead bodies for decades. In this case, the house did attract an immediate offer, although insiders hinted that price deductions can eventually make any property, even a corpse-ridden home, desirable.

They generally say that homebuyers are always supposed to do their research, but perhaps this is one situation where it's best not to dig up the past.

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