The topic of cursed properties comes up a lot in our business. But is there ever any truth to the topic? We think so. Here is our psychological take on the matter, why it happens, and how you can overcome all of that negative energy sucking the life and money out of your investment.
Architecture Holds Memory – It Reflects Back What has Been Put In
Have you ever walked into a place that just didn’t feel right? Nothing bone chilling or anything, but maybe a little more like a cold drafty feeling, or a darkness that couldn’t be explained? Well we certainly have! We experience this phenomena all of the time on property tours and even more often at Auctions, Foreclosures, and abandoned properties. Why is that?
Architecturally speaking, places showcase their history in subtle ways. For instance, you may have a bad feeling about walking through an alley, even if you know for a fact no one is lurking around the corner. This is happening because the built environment – the crumbling bricks, the debris, the broken lights, are giving you clues that the place hasn’t been well taken care of, and may in turn, not take care of you or be an ideal place to linger.
Your property is just the same. It will reflect in various ways the energy, either good or bad, that has been put into it over the years. Architecture, in simple terms, holds memory. Often people will be able to “feel” the history because of the multi-sensory nature of a place. Sight, smell, touch (hello uneven floors!) hearing, and hopefully less so, taste, are all comprising a person’s perception of space and it’s associated aura. Some are just better at uncovering the tells than others who get caught up in the superstitions. *I will admit to superstitious thinking on a more than the average basis… but shhh!
5th and Main’s 4th Restaurant Tenant Closes it’s Doors
Alright, before I lose all of you on all of the fru fru stuff, let’s talk about a local project and the back story on why I finally had to write this article in the first place. 5th and Main, one of my favorite and first large scale multi-use developments in East Nashville, was built right before it’s time with an incredible and positive ideal at it’s foundation – Affordable Housing. *Writing this today is saddening as Nashville continues to struggle with this topic through out it’s growth.
East Nashville has been historically a poorer neighborhood, with many housing projects, crime, prostitution, and drugs. I remember going to Meigs Magnet school back when there were many drive by shootings on a regular basis. All of the middle school students would have to get under our desks with our hands over our heads like you do during tornado drills. 5th and Main, just a couple of blocks closer to the river, began construction in 2007 as one of the first big projects taking hold on the East bank. It serves as a prominent anchor development as you cross the river toward the East side of Nashville
A tragedy for the developer, timing and the ensuing recession led to The $47 Million Disappointment and the failure of being able to sell affordable condo units within the property. This meant bankruptcy and mass sale Auctions of all but 5 condos. These public “fire sales” were something that went on for years before the economy began to turn back around and East Nashville became the revitalized neighborhood it is today. We purchased our 1st investment property in East Nashville back in 2010 (when it was still affordable!) and became engrained in watching the neighborhood slowly transition from how we knew it growing up.
*It’s interesting to go through Google Maps and look at the history of a place. This image taken of 5th and Main, from 2014 street view, is just one memory of the development among many, now current, stitched together images.
The first restaurant to take the front corner space of 5th and Main years later, Allium, was divine. We ate there often, with a posh atmosphere and incredible view of the city. It was really a hidden gem as my husband’s favorite place for date nights. We always dined there and dreamed about the good life. We dismissed the sign spinners outside the windows, with their “Super Cheap Condo Sale” dance moves, as nothing more than a gimmick. Surely, it was just a moment in time. But the developer’s bankruptcy, the constant vacancy, and the flash sales continued to tell another story – they began to engrain into the history of the place.
Allium didn’t last long, a year and a half maybe. It was closed to be rebranded for more success as Germantown Cafe East. (Why did it need the historic and successful Germantown Cafe Name? To drive up sales at the floundering east side location of course.) As it started to slowly take on more market share, the restaurant began having infrastructure problems. One fatal weekend, the freezer lost power, and Jay Luther, Chef and Co-Founder of Germantown Café, was Found Dead in Cooler.
Now, 4 failed restaurants later, the space sits vacant. The most recent restaurant, East Nashville’s, The Vine, Abruptly Closes its Doors Early Last Week. This announcement was hard to swallow. I have been with friends just recently, for fantastic wine nights overlooking a view of our glorious city. After the economy turned around, and the Condos and Tenant spaces were filled, I wanted to believe people were starting to forget the tragedies and pain of the building. But alas, the property continues to share, in subtle ways, it’s ever evolving history. How can this property ever overcome such a fatal launch and tragic death? Through lots and lots of positive work of course. And I hope to stay a part of that progress through continued patronage and sales.
Your Walls Have Ears and They Do Talk
So how do you know if a space is cursed or if it is just you? The walls talk of course, at least they do to a trained professional. We can almost always spot a difference in energy on tours and use that knowledge to our advantage. One of the major ways your space talks is visually. We can see how clean it is, if it has been well cared for, and if someone is going through a hard time in their life, or even dealing with a divorce or loss of a loved one. How you ask? Just open your eyes silly! You will be able to gather a significant amount of information.
My favorite book on this topic is – Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You. If you are in real estate, business, design, or just a curious person, it is an absolute must read!
What does the inside of a refrigerator tell you about someone’s life? What does peeling paint say? How do plants, or ehh hmm overgrown weeds, begin to tell you the history of a place?
On the other hand, how does a glowing kitchen inform you of the life you will lead in that space? Will a well polished and organized playroom help your kids maintain cleaner habits? I think so and the proof is in the pudding. Just look at all of the research on personal appearance! Your property and space is no different.
Investing in a Money Pit and How to Get Out
I always try to glean as much information as possible from a place to know what I am getting into for a purchase and investment. This minimizes my risk by allowing me to adequately prepare and suite up. Athena, our namesake, is the goddess of war strategy after all! I also use these skills to help my clients make more informed decisions. People often neglect to consider exactly how much energy they are going to have to put into a property to make it better. One key thing to remember:
It takes seven positive experiences to undo one negative.
So if I am considering a “cursed”, dilapidated, or otherwise undesirable property (or trying to sell it!), I have my work cut out for me. How much good energy will I need to put in? 7 times what I can instantly see or feel, plus some for good measure. You never know what is actually in the walls, pipes, etc. If you want to come out on the positive side of cash flow, happiness, and profit, you have to balance this equation.
If you have accidentally already purchased a cursed property without these things in mind, what are you to do? Start balancing that scale, baby! If you can’t seem to do it alone, then someone else might need to come in and help – a Southern Athena expert of course. We won’t do any voodoo or smudging, though we do know of a local Feng Shui expert if you are into that – Tisha Morris with Earth Home – Spirituality Meets Design. We are here to find the hidden value in your real estate and will always start by bringing that positive perspective to the table.
Does that mean you may have to spend some extra money you don’t want to, or sell at a loss? In many cases, yes. This will be the reality for quasi and full blown cursed properties. Granted, we know better than anyone how to make the most of your money and get your property back to normal, or ready to sell and on the market.
It isn’t often someone without lots of experience can just turn a place around without outside help. Helping is after all a “good” token on the scale. Having a professional cleaner, a painter, or landscaper begin to add that attention to detail and care for your property can do a world of good taking the bad vibes from a place.
Even construction left undone can look and feel either good or bad depending on the way it was left and exposed to potential buyers or tenants. Nails and dust everywhere after a demolition? Or clean and exposed work left to bare new love? The below pictures are of two comparable commercial listings we toured in “Cold Shell” condition. Which would you pick as an indicator of quality, landlord, value and marketability? A no brainer for us, and our client. The darker image was even more expensive. Ha! Can you believe it?
Often, we may suggest personal modifications, or moving out so we can better stage your space for success. Read our Nashville Home Staging Tips and Checklist – “Staging to Sell” article to get a jump start on the process! Sometimes, the problem with your property may be your perspective.
Getting the Most Out of a Cursed Property
The more positive people working on your project, the better the outcome. Again, this is true with your relationships as well as your investments. We come to all of our clients with a positive attitude and team. Especially when looking at your property. From there we focus on the visuals and major contributors or culprits. Our goal is to mitigate any negatives and highlight the good. We help you change the story and history of your place as much as possible to showcase it’s inherent values. We also provide tips on how to do things efficiently without breaking the bank, like planting some flowers to brighten an entry, or putting in some money to deliver the space in a clean and inviting manner.
We want to hear from you about your recent cursed property experiences! Can you now explain why they seemed the way they did? If this is a struggle for you, we can help! By adding back in the good through thoughtful design and investment strategy, we can make your property at peace, or ready to sell to that perfect person with the right touch to carry it forward. Help us continue our mission of “Building a Beautiful South”, one cursed property at a time, and call us today!