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July 22, 2021

It's a buyer's market out there for cemetery plots

You know, dying doesn’t have to be so expensive.

One of the defining themes of the recession has been this: people are broke, and the last thing they want to do is fork over thousands for funerals, body identifications and all the other costly, macabre economic elements that accompany death.

As a result, things like cremations were up as the downturn churned on. But how about we turn this trend on its head? Why can’t a lousy economy be used to our advantage here?

Well, as it turns out, it can. Much as some people saw opportunity in depressed housing and car prices during the recession, the same kind of speculation has arisen in the burial plot market.

According to USA Today, a sort of buyer’s market is out there for cemetery spaces these days, and it’s a trend across North America that could stick around a while.

In the U.S., for example, sellers are having a heck of a time meeting the national average price of about $3,500 per lot, often unloading burial slots bought decades before at a loss of profit.

And, if you browse around your local Canadian Craigslist, there are deals to be had here, too.

Like, this one in Toronto which claims to be selling for $2,500 below market value.

Or, this set of four in Surrey, B.C., that’s going for $10,000 – well under, using the U.S. national average of $3,500 per lot, market value.

Of course, this brings us to the trend of cheapened burial plots and why they’re bound to be undervalued for years to come.

For starters, people generally need money now, meaning any plots they’ve purchased in the past when they had flowing cash may be expendable and available at a discount.

And furthermore – call it a change in society, religion or whatever – many more Canadians are opting for cremations now, suggesting supply is likely to overtake demand for Canuck cemeteries as the years go on.

(About 44 per cent of deaths are forecasted to be dealt with by cremation in 2015, according to the Cremation Association of North America, as opposed to just 32 per cent in 2007.)

Plot buyers: have you noticed depressed prices in the Canadian burial market when you had to invest?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...