“Would you buy a haunted house?” is always a fun hypothetical to consider.
There are plenty of reasonable, skeptical folks don’t who believe in such things as ghosts or hauntings. The question for them often translates to the largely rhetorical “would you like to live in a large historical mansion?” to which the answer is obviously “yep.” Even for the true paranormal believers, however, rising mortgage interest rates and a tight housing market has to have them considering “how haunted is too haunted?” A cheeky poltergeist or two is probably fine but blood running down the walls? Eh…probably also fine (again: housing is really a nightmare in the U.S. right now).
What that hypothetical fails to address though is the terrifying possibility that the house you buy might be haunted by the living, not the dead. Such is the situation explored in Netflix‘s true crime series The Watcher. Based on the real life case of the Broaddus family at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey, The Watcher details what happens when a stalker seems to be preoccupied by a house, not a person.
After purchasing the home at 657 Boulevard in 2014, the Broaddus’s (Brannocks in the show) began to receive creepy letter after letter from an entity who styled themselves as The Watcher. As their name implied, The Watcher appeared to be watching the Broaddus family and knew all about their day-to-day routines. The Watcher was also very upset about the renovations the family was making to this hallowed house. One such horrifying letter reads in part:
“The house is crying from all of the pain it is going through. You have changed it and made it so fancy. You are stealing its history. It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls. The 1960s were a good time for 657 Boulevard when I ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there. The house was full of life and young blood. Then it got old and so did my father. But he kept watching until the day he died. And now I watch and wait for the day when the young blood will be mine again.”
Suffice it to say, the Broaddus family attempted to sell their just-acquired “Watcher house.” First, they lobbied the local Westfield government to be allowed to raze the house and break the property into two separate lots. That would have been quite the elegant solution to the problem of a house-stalker (just take the house away!) but unfortunately the town wouldn’t allow it.
Finally the family was able to sell the home as is on July 1, 2019. Ultimately, the Broaddus’s purchased the property in 2014 for $1,355,657 and sold it in 2019 for $959,000, good for a loss of around $400,000. Once the story of The Watcher became public around 2017, it was challenging for the Broaddus’s to sell the home anywhere near its value, particularly since they insisted on alerting buyers to the house’s baggage. But they were likely happy to be rid of it one way or another all the same.
Who bought the home exactly? Initially the buyers were anonymous but property records are eventually made public and the new owners’ names can be found over here at Patch.com, via the Union County Clerks Office. We’re only linking and not publishing because, while it is not “doxxing” to publish publicly available information, it seems a bit like overkill given the situation and that it’s already out there. The new owners have never reported any fresh dispatches from The Watcher.
So back to that hypothetical. Would you buy The Watcher house? Aside from that one, admittedly very big, issue. It appears to be a lovely place! You can check it out both on Zillow and Google Maps. Built in 1905, the single-family home has six bedrooms, four bathrooms (three full), central cooling, and a detached garage. While there’s no indication that the current owners are looking to sell, Zillow lists the house’s “zestimate” as $1,487,700.
Even after all the hell 657 Boulevard Avenue endured, it looks like its property value has bounced right back. It goes to show you that the only thing more powerful than fear is real estate.
All seven episodes of The Watcher are available to stream on Netflix now.