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A deal to die for? Selling burial plots

January 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Tough economic times are causing some people to choose life over death -- by selling their family burial plots. One local company has managed to dig up a lot of business as a result. Wall Street may be hurting, banks may be closing, and Americans may be losing homes, but Baron Chu's business is up roughly tenfold.

"There's been a huge spike probably in the last three months where we've seen a lot more people," said Baron Chu, owner of Plot Brokers.

Chu could be called "Johnny on the Plot." He owns Plot Brokers, an Eagle Rock company that buys and sells unwanted burial plots that are often worth thousands of dollars.

"That's around $3,000 on the median range, but we've been seeing anything from a thousand dollars to about $15,000," said Chu.

And these days there's no shortage of people hurting for money. Some find that selling a burial plot can score them some quick cash. Essentially they're trying to get out of a hole by selling one.

"I'm liquidating cemetery property," said Delia Cummings, who sold four plots.

Delia Cummings lost a job and needed to pay the rent. So she pulled out the deeds for four burial plots her father left to her and sold them to Chu.

"In today's market they're probably worth between $1,200 and $1,500 apiece. The company that I dealt with bought them outright from me and they bought them for $2,000 for all four," said Cummings.

And that is where the plot thickens. You can find burial plots for sale at eBay and on Craigslist, and because more and more people are selling them, the theory of supply and demand dictates that their price goes down.

"We've seen people just really throwing away their property, I mean just to make some ends meet," said Chu. "The cemetery will have a market value let's say of $5,000, and people are selling them to us for a thousand to $1,500."

Which means sellers aren't going to make a killing, but buyers are looking at a deal to die for.


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