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Ask Dave

Too Many Cemetery Plots

Lynn inherited 16 cemetery plots in New Jersey. She's placed ads to try to get rid of them but hasn't had any interest. Dave tries to help Lynn come up with some other ideas to get rid of these things.

QUESTION: Lynn in New York City inherited 16 cemetery plots in New Jersey. She’s placed ads to try to get rid of them but hasn’t had any interest in them. She found a cemetery plot broker, but he’s in Florida and she’s leery of the concept. Dave tries to help Lynn come up with some other ideas to get rid of these things.

ANSWER: I’m with you. I think my gift of cynicism is kicking up on a Florida broker selling New Jersey cemetery lots. That’s a little weird.

I don’t know that Craigslist would work, but I’m trying to think where you would advertise cemetery plots. Hit some of the local funeral homes. Tell them you’d give them $1,000 apiece to sell them. If they sold them for $3,000, you’d come out way ahead. Just say, “I want to make you a deal you really can’t resist. I’m going to give you a 33% commission. Just get rid of these things for me.” Or maybe they’ll take them off your hands at more than $700.

I think the cemetery people think they’ve got you. I think they think they’ve got you cornered, and they’re holding the gun at you at $700. That doesn’t sound right to me.

I think I would hit any funeral home in a 50- or 100-mile radius. I’d also hit a couple of big churches in the area. Hit the pastor or the administrative executive pastor who does the business stuff at the bigger churches in the immediate area.

You’re not going to get $3,000 for them because there’s not a good way to get to the marketplace without going through someone. I would even tell that pastor, “We’ll donate $1,000 apiece to your church if you’ll help us get them moved at market value. We’ll donate a third of the proceeds to your church.” Maybe they make you an offer or something—that kind of thing. They may be able to do that.

That’s my best idea. Just try to stir up the market like that. I’m with you. I don’t like the blackmail price from the local cemetery guy there, and I don’t like the broker in Florida. That sounds fishy. I don’t know if that helps, but those are some ideas to get you thinking like that, and maybe Craigslist, maybe some pastors and churches in the area, maybe some funeral homes in the area. There might even be something else. I just haven’t thought of it.