For some, a home's former owner can haunt the property forever.
The foreclosed former home of Earl Bradley, a pedophile pediatrician, didn’t net any bids at an auction Tuesday, local news station WBOC 16 reports. Bradley, who is serving 14 life sentences for sexually abusing some of his young patients, owed more than $560,000 on the house. The house was put up for sale at a foreclosure auction featuring about 50 other properties. The starting price was $230,000.
"I would think anyone in this area would maybe shy away from buying that piece of property," deputy sheriff Tina Timmons told WBOC.
They might be passing up a bargain. The median listing price for a home in Lewes, Delaware, where the house is located, is nearly $70,000 more than that, according to real estate site Zillow.
If U.S. Bank can’t manage to sell Bradley’s home -- and if other foreclosed homes formerly owned by criminals have trouble netting bids -- that's even more bad news for a lousy housing market. Foreclosed homes already drive down surrounding property values more than vacant houses, according to an October report from the Cleveland Federal Reserve. And with the foreclosure crisis showing little sign of abating, property values may still fall even further.
In addition, the criminal's former house could become a hot bed of criminal activity. Suburban law enforcement agencies have had to use resources policing vacant homes in the wake of the housing bust, as the empty properties become havens for thieves and other criminals, according to a 2008 Washington Post report.
Still, it's not only foreclosed properties previously belonging to criminals that have trouble selling at auction. When the foreclosed Watergate Hotel -- an iconic Washington landmark -- was put up for auction for $25 million in 2009, it attracted zero bids, according to McClatchy Newspapers.