Crime Scene For Sale
The site of Robert Wone’s murder is back on the market. Agents talk about what it takes to sell a crime scene.
Listing agent Ellen Abrams of Evers and Company Real Estate declined a request to comment about the house. But agent John Taylor of Chatel Real Estate, who has a similar priced listing nearby and has toured the Swann Street house in the past, says the home is priced well for the market. Taylor says agents wouldn’t take the house’s criminal history into account when coming up with a price. “We would not want to think of that property as being stigmatized in any way,” says Taylor.
This is the second time the home has been listed for sale since Wone’s murder. In June 2008, Price and Zaborsky collected $1,475,000 for the house—$200,000 more than they paid for it in 2005. The listing agent that time was Therese Cox, who says she did not have a problem with gawkers at open houses. The house did require a lot of work to get it ready to go on the market, though. Says Cox, “The whole thing had to be rebuilt. Everything had to be redone because the police had destroyed it. New appliances, new stairs.”
In a bizarre coincidence, Cox was involved in another notorious home sale. In 2003, she sold DC school principal Brian Betts the Silver Spring home where he was found murdered in April. According to an article in the Gazette, Betts did not know when he bought the home that it had been the site of a 2002 double homicide—the random killing of 47-year-old George Russell and his 9-year-old daughter, Erika Smith.
Cox says that agents are not allowed to tell their clients about crimes that have taken place in their listings unless they are asked directly. Still, it’s hard to believe someone could buy 1509 Swann Street without knowing its history, which has been front-page news for months.
Being the scene of a murder didn’t hurt Georgetown’s Bowie-Sevier House. In July 2006, a young man was murdered in the mansion’s driveway, which at that point belonged to developer Herbert Miller. A few months later Miller sold the seven-bedroom, 12-bath home to media entrepreneur Robert Allbritton. The price? $24 million.