For Sale By Owner: Burial Plots

The secondary burial plot market is alive and well as South Floridians try to survive tough economic times -- sometimes, even listing their final resting places on Craigslist

By Mary Beth Wilson and Janie Campbell
|  Thursday, Sep 29, 2011  |  Updated 4:01 PM EDT
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Pre-owned burial sites: the new quick cash in a near-lifeless economy.

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A burgeoning secondary market for gravesites is rising as South Floridians who planned for death find cash for life with proceeds from the sale of pre-purchased resting places.

While burial plot brokers and funeral homes are helping out, many sellers are turning to online classifieds sites like Craigslist to unload their final homes.

"Double burial plot, $5,000," reads a recent ad for a pair of spots in Miami's Woodlawn Cemetary. "Purchased and valued at $12,000. SELLING FOR $5,000 due to FINANCIAL HARDSHIP."

Some sellers add maps and images to their ads, while others tout discounts. 28-year-old Holly Purkey is asking $3,000 for a pair of plots she purchased from her grandparents when they moved out of state.

"This is new to me. Kind of a weird investment," the Port St. Lucie stay-at-home mom told NBC affiliat WPTV. "The money would help. That's the reason why I should get these on Craigslist and do something about it."

"The pre-need business is literally dead," said Rafi Khalifa of National Funeral Homes. "Generally, if [sellers] get half of what they paid, they're happy...it's kind of a buyer's market."

Khalifa says that funeral homes like his are major buyers of pre-purchased plots, because they can buy at half off, keep the plots in inventory, and then pass the savings on in discounted funeral packages.

"People don't have money to pay their mortgages and car loans," he said. "They're losing their homes. If they have [burial plots] as an asset, we buy back."

Secondary prices often depend on the location of a plot within a cemetary. "It's like real estate," Khalifa said.

National Funeral Director's Association spokesperson Jessica Coth said pre-need buyers have long sold plots when changing their minds about their eternal location or moving or any number of reasons -- but  business is booming more than usual.

"It in the last three to four years as the economy's taken a downturn, we've seen many people sell to have cash in hand for bills, or whatever other needs they may have," she said.

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