Skylawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home burial plots may be a final resting place for some, but for others they are assets to sell.
David Dai is one of many San Mateo County residents trying to sell his Skylawn pre-purchased burial plot for some quick cash on Craigslist.
He is selling two side-by-side spaces for $6,800 each, which he bought 10 years ago for himself and his wife. With no steady income the past three years, Dai says he needs the money.
“I have no choice now. I have to sell this investment,” he said.
Hugo Zhou of San Mateo also says “we need the money, and don’t want to save the plots for our parents.”
He’s selling two plots for $5,000 each although the current market price, he says, is $6,500.
The trend for wanting cash in hand now over a casket in the ground later is still alive and well. Sellers are posting every day on Craigslist to market their cemetery real estate. Some of these ads show single plots starting at about $3,000, while couple and family plots can go for $20,000 and up.
There are currently 16 listings on Craigslist since April 12 of people trying to sell their ocean view real estate at Skylawn alone. This doesn’t include the other 45 ads placed by people selling their personal burial plots elsewhere in the Bay Area.
The most expensive offer for Skylawn is currently $20,000 for two sites on "Top of the Hill, side by side located in the Military section. Pacific Ocean View. Best location in a sold out area."
Vanessa Henning, a former San Mateo resident currently residing in Concord, also wants her Skylawn cemetery real estate off her hands. Henning bought her pre-purchased burial plot with her now ex-husband in 1982 when they first got married. She’s selling it today for $6,800.
“If interested, I also have a family member who wants to sell their space, which is located next to mine,” reads the ad.
Henning said she’s not selling for the money but admits the cash would be nice.
Instead, she plans “on being cremated and put into wind chimes,” she said. “Plus I don’t live in the area anymore so Skylawn is not where I want to be.”
When she bought the burial spots with her ex-husband 30 years ago, Henning thinks they paid $1,800 for the two plots.
“Ten years ago when I buried my mom there, plots were going for more than $6,000 each. So it was a good investment,” she said.
An investment, however, that she wants to unload.
“These burial spots are no good to me right now and hopefully I won't need them anytime soon," she said.
Jackie of San Francisco is selling four side-by-side cemetery plots for $5,700 to $6,000 each because “we don’t need the plots anymore since we decided not to use them for our parents when they died, and the pre-planning for ourselves doesn’t require burial plots.”
Skylawn's current cost of each of the plots that Jackie is trying to sell is $6,500, she said, and “includes Perpetual Care service of the grounds.”
“Owning a burial plot is another form of property, a piece of real estate,” she said.
That real estate —off Skyline Drive and Hwy 92 with more than 500 park-like acres on a mountaintop with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean — could arguably be the most pristine piece of real estate on the Peninsula.
“That view is so awesome, wish I could build a small house on the site of our burial plot instead,” said Marilyn Robs of Half Moon Bay who has been trying to sell for four years now a niche in the Veterans Columbarium that faces the ocean and was intended for her father, who opted to be buried with his second wife some place else.
Like most real estate listings, the Craigslist ads include idyllic descriptions of the setting.
“Skylawn Memorial Park is absolutely the most peaceful and beautiful place in the Bay Area,” reads one ad. “Take a look at the property for yourself … on a clear day the view is breathtaking,” reads another.
Descriptions like “beautiful plot,” “overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean,” “Bay Area's most beautiful mountain top,” and “ocean view cemetery in the sold out Garden of Love area,” are commonly used throughout the ads.
“Sort of funny isn’t it since you’re in the ground and can’t enjoy that view,” said Robs, “although it makes for a nice setting for a funeral and for when people visit their loved ones.”
Most of the ads specify cash transactions only with a property transfer fee of $150 to take place at Skylawn Memorial Park Offices.
Yet when it comes to preplanning final wishes and considering burial options, Skylawn family services counselor Patrice Robles says all inquiries should be addressed to Skylawn’s staff and sales managers and that although there are deals to be had out there, she was unable to comment on the Craigslist offers.
Still, Dai is finding that selling a cemetery plot is not a quick sale.
He’s had it on the market for two years now, and no offers have been made. He is hopeful that will change soon.
“It is a hard item to sell because the buyer does not have the choice of location they would have if they went directly to Skylawn and purchased it,” he said, “but a couple might like that my plots are side-by-side and for such a good price.”
Henning hasn’t had any offers either.
“But for people who really want to be buried, it’s more affordable to pay for a burial plot now than later when the time comes,” says Henning. “Unfortunately, many people these days don’t have the available funds for this type of long term need and forecasted care for the future. But I’m hopeful someone will answer my Craigslist ad one day soon.”
Are you in the market for a Skylawn burial plot?
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