The infamous 657 Boulevard case has been making the rounds in the online true crime community ever since it took place in 2016. In a nutshell, it’s the true story of how a house and its occupants in suburban New Jersey became the subject of creepy stalking, starting from 2014.
It all began when Derek Broaddus and his wife Maria closed on 657 Boulevard residential property. It was a six-bedroom home, which they thought was perfect for their growing family. They did some renovations before moving in, so they weren’t receiving plenty of mail or bills just yet. One day, however, they received a card-shaped envelope, the contents of which were very creepy and disturbing. The writer called himself “The Watcher,” and they claimed that they are the stewards of the house and have been for many years.
As time went on, the letters became even more and more disturbing (with the stalker knowing so many things about the family—from the type of car they drive to the contractors they hired and the name of their three children). This led to the Broaddus family eventually having to sell the property. But because the home came with so much baggage, they had a hard time finding an owner for it until 2019 came, and they were finally able to reach a deal with a new owner.
The infamous 657 Boulevard case is more than just true crime fodder; there is wisdom to learn for homeowners who want to be smart with the properties they own. Here are some real estate lessons we can learn from this case.
Always consult with a lawyer
No matter what transaction you’re planning to make, whether you’re buying or selling property, make sure to always stay in contact with a reputable real estate lawyer. This is an extra layer of protection you always want with you because you never know when something like this can happen—you never know when an event might occur that can significantly decrease the value of the property you’re buying.
In the case of the 657 Boulevard house, nobody wanted to buy the property because of the creepy narrative surrounding it. The Broaddus family ended up selling the home for less than the amount they purchased it, not to mention their renovation expenses. The family eventually took a $400,000 loss on the house, but they had no choice but to sell it as soon as someone wanted the property because there was no demand for it. At that point, beggars could not be choosers.
Having a skilled lawyer in your corner will help you identify the best insurance policies that can help protect your financial interests. They can help you with the transfer of funds and resolve issues to help ensure the smoothest transaction possible.
Whenever you’re conducting any form of transaction in the real estate industry, you always want to ensure that you have capable legal representation and can fight for your best interests.
Research the area or even the neighbors
One lesson we could learn from the case is that no suburban paradise is ever as it seems. No matter how safe a neighborhood may seem, we will never be truly sure that our children and we are 100 percent safe from crime, especially a crime like stalking.
When looking into new homes to buy, do your due diligence. Here are some ways you can do some thorough research on an area or street you’re considering moving into:
- Use tools, apps, or platforms that were developed to check neighborhood safety. Some of these digital tools include apps and websites like Family Watchdog, NextDoor, NeighborhoodScout, CrimeReports, and others. Some top non-violent property crimes you need to check for are larceny, vehicle theft, and burglaries, while violent crimes involving properties include assault, rape, and robbery. Check these apps for the score of the neighborhood regarding these areas. Some of these platforms also help users locate registered sex offenders in the area, so you can instantly block off potential home if it’s near someone who has a history.
- Talk to local shop owners, community youth groups, and a neighborhood watch if there is one. They would know about the most significant safety concerns in the area since they have spent more time in it.
Buying a home can be a fun and exciting prospect, but it also presents many unknown variables. Ensure to protect your family and your assets by consulting with a real estate attorney and doing your due diligence before making some big decisions. Good luck and keep safe out there.