When Tragedy Strikes, He Appraises the Real Estate Involved—From Nicole Brown Simpson’s Condo to the Site of the World Trade Centre

Despite being most recognised for appraising the properties on which some of the greatest murders and horrors in American history have taken place, Randall Bell is not a lover of the macabre.

The 65-year-old socioeconomics doctorate-holding real estate appraiser had a career-changing experience when he assessed the condo where Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were tragically killed in 1994. In what was considered “the trial of a century,” former NFL star O.J. Simpson, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 76 from prostate cancer, was found not guilty of their murders.

Since then, Bell has evaluated the homes of Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman Adam Lanza and 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, who were discovered slain. In addition to Jeffrey Epstein’s real estate holdings, he evaluated the site of the World Trade Centre, the residence where 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate sect committed suicide.

He has also treasured the neighbourhoods that Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina devastated, as well as the wildfire that completely destroyed the town of Paradise, California, among many other things.

Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo propelled Bell’s career

Bell’s appraisal of Nicole Brown Simpson’s notorious condo was a turning point in his career.

Bell claims that Nicole’s father was unsure about what to do with the land. “I lived five minutes away from him, and I had this reputation for damaging properties.”

Little details like the candles surrounding the bathtub or the ring left on the surface where Brown Simpson had placed a bowl are among the things he recalls.

Bell recalls, “It was another assignment in some ways.” On the other hand, it seemed strange. Beyond the publicity, media, and headlines, I’m seated at the kitchen table with the family, and we are a family bereaved deeply.

Bell appreciated it the day before the incident and once again after it was turned into a crime scene.

Former NFL player O.J. Simpson was charged with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. He was acquitted of the crimes. Randall Bell appraised Brown Simpson’s home in the wake of her brutal murder.

(O.J. Simpson via X)

According to Bell, “I had reporters fly from Japan to interview me.” “In the grand scheme of things, I played a very little part. [But] I was on CNN several times. I spoke with almost every news organisation imaginable.

Because of the notoriety, Brown Simpson’s father had anticipated that the property would fetch a higher price at auction than what his daughter had paid. He was in error.

A few months before her death, in January 1994, his daughter had bought the condo for $675,000, according to Realtor.com® records. According to Bell, it ought to have sold in three to six months as opposed to the 2.5 years it took.

1996 saw it sell for $525,000, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Bell claims that “fame doesn’t equate to more dollars.”

The condo’s address was changed and the walkway’s direction was changed after the killings to make it more difficult to identify.

About ten years later, in August 2005, it was put up for $1.85 million. November 2006, it sold for $1.72 million.

As per national real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, “[Bell] seems to have a knack for it, for whatever reason.” He has been linked to almost every calamity covered by cable television because he offers a cool-headed perspective on handling destroyed property.

The door to the condo owned by Nicole Brown Simpson

(Courtesy of Randall Bell)

Bell was raised in Fullerton, California, the birthplace of the Fender guitar, which is located around 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Buying serial killers’ mansions was not precisely his boyhood ambition. His career goal was to build real estate. He was on his route as well, pursuing a master’s degree in real estate at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Since appraisal “was pretty lucrative” at the time, he completed the required courses to obtain his licence. He could not, however, picture himself appreciating property in the long run. He then took the LSAT and received law school acceptance.

Then, while swimming in a pool with his small kid before school started, he experienced a revelation. In his schooling, he had studied the factors that contributed to real estate’s worth. He was now determined to find out what had made that worth less.

Bell claims that “nobody was really doing that.” “Nobody had actually committed themselves to that full-time.”

Randall Bell is a real estate appraiser specializing in distressed properties.

(Courtesy of Randall Bell)

He informed his business clients—for whom he would do assessments or refinance loans—that he intended to focus on “damaged” real estate over the phone the next day.

This occurred in the early 1990s, when an industrial or retail center’s environmental leak may cause harm.

“As fate would have it, I was in perfect timing. There were the riots in Los Angeles, the earthquake in Northridge, and the wildfires in Malibu and other places, according to Bell. “I had an overwhelming amount of work.”

Naturally, Nicole Brown Simpson’s apartment followed.

Natural disaster and murder home discounts

When Bell isn’t travelling for work, he splits his time between his properties in Park City, Utah; Laguna Beach, California; and Las Vegas these days.

He serves people, businesses, communities, and national and international governments. He regularly provides testimony on property damage in court.

Miller claims that “he has no peer.” “He is the person who can accurately assess the harm caused by a natural disaster or a traumatic incident on a piece of land.”

Value isn’t only based on how much damage there is.

He considers the cost of repairs, the expense of renting another place while the house is unusable, and the reputation that the home now carries when it is damaged by natural calamities. If these properties are vulnerable to natural calamities like storms, flooding, wildfires, and so on, potential purchasers may be reluctant to acquire them.

About the extent of the price reductions, Bell states, “the sky is the limit.”

Then there are the murder houses, which usually get a 10% to 25% discount.

However, the magnitude and kind of the crime, the amount of media coverage it receives, the location (e.g., a tiny town where this is the greatest news in the county vs a large metropolis where crimes are more prevalent), and whether or not children were involved can all cause the values to decrease even more.

Bell states, “It’s a different world anytime you cross a queue and a child is harmed.” Discounts increase when minors are engaged in the crime. Some homes are unsellable due of their stigma. They have no value.Some of these buildings—like the apartment complex owned by Jeffrey Dahmer and the Idaho home where four college students were murdered last year—are demolished, remain empty, or are converted into monuments. Some are bought by individuals who either live or work there, demolish the current buildings and build new ones, or modify the façade and change the addresses.

On the other hand, buyers of these foreclosed homes at a loss might incur further emotional costs.

It may be the less interesting people who stop to snap pictures of the house or ring the doorbell to inquire about tours. Or it can become ominous.

According to Bell, following the suicides at Heaven’s Gate, a man persisted in attempting to scale the property’s fence in order to enter the house and end his life. These properties’ owners have also reported break-ins and individuals performing Satanic rites on the property.

Bell responds, “That’s a pretty common phenomenon.”

Rules for appraising the world’s worst real estate

About five years after the memorial’s completion, he wasn’t emotionally prepared to visit it.

“These are actual people who passed away. Bell says, “There are actual families that are in grief.

He finds it incredibly grounding to have a view of the sea from both his California home and office. In addition to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2019, he received a degree in socioeconomics in 2012. He enjoys seeing magic performances in Las Vegas and owns a huge assortment of items signed by magician Harry Houdini.

He’s a collector of Fender guitars as well. (His father worked for the guitar firm as a mechanical engineer.) He and Phyllis Fender even collaborated on a book on Phyllis’s late husband, Leo Fender. Five books in all, including “Leo Fender: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World” and “Real Estate Damages,” the latter of which is currently in its third edition, have been authored by him or with his collaboration.

Bell has no plans to retire very soon. Like his hero, Leo Fender, he wants to work until the day he dies.

Bell says, “I pray for world peace.” “But there’s a lot of work to be done in the interim.”

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