In brutal economy, more sell their burial plots

In brutal economy, more sell their burial plots

Associated Press
Monday, January 5, 2009

(01-05) 04:00 PST Los Angeles – Burial plot brokers are reporting an unprecedented uptick in the business of reselling grave sites, as money troubles prompt a growing number of people to put their burial plots up for sale, often at a loss.

Baron Chu, who owns the burial site resale business Plot Brokers, said he is doing nine or 10 times as much business as usual, a jump he attributes to the economic downturn.

Chu said people are only getting about a quarter of what their plots would have fetched six months ago because of the increased supply hitting the burial plot market. He said one client, who had just been evicted from her home, got $500 for a plot worth $6,800.

“It allowed her to move into a hotel for a month where she can live and look for work,” he said. “It kept her out of Skid Row.”

In some cases, the sales are breaking up plots that have remained in families for generations.

Southern California native Carol Lieberman said she is trying to sell two adjoining plots at a cemetery in the Mission Hills area where her parents and other family members are buried.

“I need the money,” Lieberman said.

Cal State Northridge psychology Professor Stan Charnofsky said people who sell their burial plots face a difficult dilemma of weighing their financial needs in life against their desire for a peaceful resting place beside family members after death.

“It’s a decision to make between the history of your family and the current survival of your family,” Charnofsky said. “A lot of people are obviously concluding it’s more important to survive.”