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Sale of infamous "Amityville Horror" house for $1.5 million signals rebound in real estate market

Purportedly haunted New York house commanded more than double the price it fetched five years ago, as realtors​​​​​​ group​ reported pending home sales increased last month for first time since May of 2022.

Published: January 28, 2023 3:53pm

Updated: January 29, 2023 11:10pm

New York's infamous "Amityville Horror" house sold recently for almost $1.5 million, a sign the real estate market is rebounding even as prices have begun to cool overall. 

The home, at 108 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, N.Y., has been known for decades as the site of Ronald DeFeo's horrific six-person homicide in 1974, when he killed his parents and all four of his siblings while they slept. 

The house subsequently became associated with claims of demonic and supernatural activity after husband-and-wife George and Kathy Lutz purchased it in 1975 and fled it after less than a month, claiming the house was severely haunted.

The Ocean Avenue home sold this month for $1.46 million, the New York Post reported, about $200,000 below its listed asking price yet still more than double what it fetched in 2017, when it sold for just over $600,000. 

Purported haunted houses aside, there are broader signs that the housing market is in at least a temporary rebound after several months of cooling. The National Association of Realtors reported on Friday that pending home sales increased last month for the first time since May of 2022, an indication that demand is on an upswing. 

"This recent low point in home sales activity is likely over," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in the report. "Mortgage rates are the dominant factor driving home sales, and recent declines in rates are clearly helping to stabilize the market."

Mortgage rates remain sharply higher than they were at the same time last year after several aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve this year in a bid to rein in runaway inflation. But rates have been declining steadily since before Thanksgiving, with 30-year rates coming down from above 7% in November to just above 6% at the end of January. 

Redfin, meanwhile, reported this week that pending home sales "rose 2.9% nationwide" in December, which it said was "the first month-over-month increase since October 2021."

"The small uptick in pending sales suggests some homebuyers returned to the market at the tail end of 2022 after demand plummeted in the fall," Redfin Economics Research Lead Chen Zhao said in the analysis.

In Amityville, meanwhile, the town's infamous house has likely benefited from extensive upgrades, with photos showing a renovated and brightly-lit interior that betrays none of the home's dark associations. The city also allowed the home to change its address by several digits, and the distinct "quarter-round" eye-like windows for which the house was known have been removed in the decades since it gained notoriety. 

William Weber, who had defended DeFeo in court during his murder trial, claimed later that he and the Lutzes had “created this horror story over many bottles of wine."

In the years since the Lutzes left, no reports have surfaced indicating ongoing supernatural activity at the house. James Cromarty, who purchased the house shortly after the Lutzes and who lived in it for 10 years, at one point told Newsday he and his family witnessed no hauntings of any kind there. 

"Nothing weird ever happened," he said, "except for people coming by because of the book and the movie."

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