After the Tape: The Long-Term Impact of Crime and Violence on the Perception of Properties and Neighborhoods

It should go without saying that most people prefer to live in areas and properties where crime is low and they feel comfortable and safe in their homes. Yet shocking, deliberate acts of violence or other crimes can happen in even the most salubrious neighborhoods and are not exclusive to less affluent areas. In this article, we examine the effects of those events on properties and neighborhoods in various ways. The most heinous crimes can live on in the stories and legends surrounding specific properties, perhaps becoming distorted and less accurate to the truth as time passes. Others render properties uninhabitable, and some are simply razed to the ground. 

Stigmatized properties 

A stigmatized property is one where shocking events or individuals negatively impact its perception by the wider community. Whole neighborhoods or (in the case of infamous, serial murders) even cities of people might be aware of the reputation a property has and the stories about depraved acts that occurred therein. The property retains no physical signs of these happenings, and the effect is purely psychological but very real and powerful nonetheless. 

The nature of the crime 

It seems sensible to assume that, as people living in cities and built-up areas are more used to dealing with crime, they are less reactionary when deciding their choice of property and neighborhood. And this turns out to be true. However, people find some crimes and events more disconcerting to handle, and brutal acts of violence or disturbing, destructive, and immoral behavior have a much more significant impact. 

There is a ‘sweet’ spot in any story of crime associated with a property where it transitions from being an interesting aside, mentioned in passing, to a badge of honor. People might not like to experience these events first-hand, but there is some kudos and excitement in telling people you live in the house where Mafia hoods plotted their rackets or a team of bank robbers holed up after a failed heist. However, once the crimes are darker and less suitable for polite conversation, they can render the property uninhabitable for some people. 

Any crimes involving children, twisted acts of abuse and violence, or murder are likely to deter more people. They cross the line from being sensational, somewhat shocking-yet-thrilling acts to become downright disturbing. Some people have vivid imaginations, and the more they focus on picturing horrible events occurring in any property or neighborhood, the less they want to live there. 

Rental properties

This phenomenon is a recorded feature of previous property sales but is much harder to pinpoint when a property is rented. Whether this is due to fewer sordid details about the property being revealed or other mitigating factors is difficult to say. Are people less concerned about living in a property with a dark history if they are not the owners and can simply pack up and leave if they choose? 


It might seem that an increased chance of being robbed or burgled in your own home might be enough to deter some people from choosing to live there. Bizarrely, this does not appear to be the case in urban locations. Again, there are too many contributing factors to make outright statements of fact. For example, a lack of affordable housing might persuade people to accept properties in neighborhoods they would rather not but find they have little choice. Evidence suggests that suburban properties and neighborhoods suffer more if there is a reputation for theft. Still, cities seem largely unaffected in terms of property prices and people’s willingness to live in ‘tainted’ locations.

This trend may also be affected by a subconscious perception that most thefts can be prevented with caution and security products/protocols in place. It is difficult for people to associate feelings of losing their belongings to a thief with a particular property they have never seen before. However, when imaginations run riot, they much more easily picture multiple homicides and other violent acts that seem to ‘stain’ the character of the property and give it a bad vibe. The psychological impact of violent, disturbing crimes occasionally manifests itself in irrational behavior and decisions. This article is not the place to delve into the realm of the supernatural, but it suffices to say that people who believe in it are even less likely to inhabit those spaces. 

Do realtors have to reveal the dark history of any property they sell?

The rules and regulations vary from state to state, but it is generally accepted that you must ask them directly to receive that kind of information. Understandable as it may be from their point of view, it would be a bitter pill to swallow to purchase a property in good faith, only to discover it had been the scene of some grisly spectacle not revealed to you at the time of negotiating. 

Sadly for the potential buyer, a property’s history is not deemed a relevant material fact that must be included in the seller’s disclosure. Ask directly, however, and they cannot conceal that history without leaving themselves open to repercussions and litigation. 

Partner with Aftercare for premium cleanup and remediation services

At Aftercare, we offer our cleanup and remediation services to clients in Virginia and North Carolina when crime scenes or accidents leave a property in a dangerous mess. When you partner with us, you can expect the following benefits: 

  • 24/7 availability
  • A non-negotiable focus on maximum safety
  • A rapid, efficient, and effective service
  • Fair, transparent, and affordable pricing with no hidden fees
  • Courteous, discreet, and respectful team members
  • Fully licensed, trained, and accredited staff 
  • Keen attention to evolutions in the industry and the prevalence of new resources, equipment, and techniques
  • Compliance with requisite state/federal regulations 

Contact us

Please get in touch with us today to learn more about our operations in Norfolk and our comprehensive range of cleanup services. Experienced, trained, and qualified professionals will assist however possible, offering all the advice and information you need. When you put your faith in Aftercare to look after you in desperate times of need, we won’t disappoint you.