The Wylie Ax Murder House- Does Murder Impact the Value of Real Estate?
On June 13, 1980, I was just a young soon-to-be 6th grader living near the Houston, TX area. I did not hear about Candy Montgomery. Thankfully, I was unaware of how Candy came over to Beth Gore’s house on Friday the 13th and murdered her with 41 blows from an ax. I did not know how she did this in between Vacation Bible School and went about her day as if nothing had happened. I was unaware of t the sensational trial that ended in her acquittal. When I was older, I was living in the North Texas area when the made-for-TV movie came out in 1990, A Killing in a Small Town. It was definitely an unbelievable story at the time I saw it.
Renewed interest in the story has occurred as Hulu just released in May the series- “Candy”, a five-episode series recounting the story of the murder. Although not filmed in Texas, they do a good job of depicting life in 1980 in Texas. Just know that there are no pine trees in the Wylie area and in the jogging scenes, most likely Alan Gore would not have been wearing sweats in June in Texas, especially with the heat wave of 1980. That said, it does a good job of recounting what happened and base most of the story from Texas Monthly articles depicting this bizarre story.
Where is Wylie?
This murder occurred in the very small town of Wylie, TX located in southeast part of Collin County. It is approximately 30 miles northeast of Dallas. This is located in an area we cover thus I was intrigued and compelled to do a little research. Wylie, like many small towns in North Texas, has been experiencing population growth for the past 2 decades. In 1980 Wylie had a population of 3,200 compared to the US Census 2020 population of 59, 259. That is an increase of 1753.125 %!!
Collin County is one of the markets we cover, including Wylie. The market has been appreciating at a very rapid rate, especially within the past year. The current median sale price for homes in Wylie is $450, 561 which is up +32.5% from the same time last year. Collin County is also up +33.8% from the same time last year with a median sales price of $550,000.
What Happened to the Gore House?
The murder happened in the home of Allan and Betty Gore in a typical ranch-style 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with a 2 car garage. The home was built in 1974 and according to the appraisal district is 1,697 sq ft. It is still there and has sold six times since the murder.
Here is what the house looked like in 1980-
Here is what it looks like today-
How did this horrific murder impact the value of the home? Do the buyers know that this occurred in the home? In Texas, a murder occurring inside a home must be disclosed so yes they did know. When something like this happens in a home the property can become stigmatized. Stigmatized properties have been psychologically impacted by events that can impact their value.
How much does a murder impact the value of a property? Like most things in real estate, the answer is “it depends”. According to a 2001 study by James Larsen, a professor of finance at Wright University, “a cross-section of homes where homicides, suicides or hauntings were reported sold for 2.9 percent less than market value, and sat on the market for approximately 47 percent longer than average houses. Randall Bell, a real estate economist and appraiser, states “there’s usually a 15-to-25 percent decrease in value for a few years after the event, which then goes away over a period of one to twenty-five years” . Real estate appraisers can be challenged to determine the impact of the stigmatized properties and the amount of impact will vary based on the event that occurred as well as the time that has passed.
What about the Gore house? Was it stigmatized? Unfortunately, my MLS records do not go back far enough and Texas is a non-disclosure state which means the sales price was not disclosed on those early sales that occurred right after the murder. I would expect that initially there was an impact from the stigma on those first few sales, however, as time has passed and with the frenzied markets of high demand and low supply we have been experiencing, the house has sold twice within the past two years and as you can see from the chart below, it did not sale below the market.
The last sale of the home occurred in March and it sold over the list price. This sale was, prior to the release of the new Hulu showing of Candy. It was disclosed what had occurred in the home. One of the owners of the home stated that it did not bother them what had happened and that they had grown up in a home that was previously owned by a serial killer. Whether the stigma will be revived after the release of the new Hulu series remains to be seen. You can view the listing and interior photos of the most recent sale here.
What Happened to Those Involved?
Candy Montgomery no longer lives in Texas as she changed her last name and moved to Georgia where she works as a counselor. Pat Montgomery, her husband, moved to Georgia with Candy after the trial but they reportedly divorced 4 years later and he has remained out of the spotlight since then. Allan Gore, the husband of Betty Gore and who had a 10 month affair with Candy, remarried and moved away from Wylie. His children were raised by Betty’s parents and he was last known to be retired in Florida. Don Crowder, was Candy’s defense attorney and this case was his first criminal trial. He was a Collin County lawyer for 22 years and was the city attorney for the town of Allen. In 1986 he ran for governor but only received 11% of the votes. In 1997 his brother died of a tragic accident and his mental health declined as a result. He struggled with depression and took his own life in 1998.
What Do You Think?
Would it bother you to live in a house where a murder had been committed? Would it bother you every time you went into that utility room? Appraiser Ryan Lundquist, took an interesting poll regarding the home of the Golden State Killer. You can check it out here. Many thought that the home would sell at 10% or less discount. Low inventories can diminish some of the negative impact of the stigma but most likely not erase it. It is interesting. I don’t think, no matter how much I wanted or needed a home, I don’t think I would buy one with such a gruesome murder. I have talked to others that say that it wouldn’t bother them at all.
I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences on this topic. Please respond in the comments.
I can’t remember the weather in 1980, lol. Nice post. I’ll have to watch the Hulu special. I don’t remember this one.