Buying a new home is always risky, but in the movies, real estate can be downright life-threatening. Take some of these cinematic examples...and what you can learn from them.
The Money Pit (1986): Tom Hanks and Shelley Long are overjoyed when they get a mansion at a ridiculously low price...and less overjoyed when the bathtub crashes through the ceiling, the stairs collapse, and even the frame falls down.
Real-Life Lesson: Two words: House inspector.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948): This classic features Cary Grant and Myrna Loy as a city couple who decide to buy a house out in the country. After they hire an unscrupulous real estate agent and ignore their lawyer's advice, they wind up with a fixer-upper so stressful that they wonder why they even bothered to leave the city.
Real-Life Lesson: Make sure you know the market you're getting into, and listen to advice from people you trust. After all, you don't want your dream house to turn into a nightmare. The house used in the film fared much better in real life - it sold for $1.2 million in August 2004.
Pacific Heights (1990): Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith buy a new building and rent an apartment out to Michael Keaton...who, unfortunately, happens to be a deadbeat con man with a knowledge of tenant laws that keeps them from just throwing him out. He also happens to be a psychopath...
Real-Life Lesson: If you're going to be a landlord, make sure you do a thorough background check on your potential boarders...and that you're familiar with real estate laws.
Poltergeist (1982): Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams have a house in a great neighborhood provided by Nelson's company...unfortunately, they weren't told that it was built on an ancient Indian burial ground. After enduring demon trees, vortexes and their youngest daughter's being sucked into the TV, a cheap motel feels awfully good to them.
Real-Life Lesson: Make sure you know your property's history before you make a commitment.
Disturbia (2007): In this update of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, house-arrested teenager Shia LaBeouf discovers that his next-door neighbor (David Morse) is a killer...and, of course, no one believes him, making it a problem when Morse comes after him.
Real-Life Lesson: Make sure you have a good feel for your neighbors before you commit to a neighborhood...you might not know what icky secrets they might have hiding in their basement. Some services let you know if someone with a criminal record is living in the area.
The Amityville Horror (1979): Based on a (supposedly) true story, James Brolin and his family move into a house where a murder was once committed...and soon experience a rash of possessions and supernatural incidents that have them bolting. The real-life family behind this story made out much better - the book they wrote about their experiences became a bestseller, while the film spawned multiple sequels and a remake.