Stigmatized Properties -- Views from the RealTalk Community
Murders, suicides, haunted homes with ghosts and goblins. Selling a house that is stigmatized requires special skills. What needs to be disclosed, what doesn't? RealTown recently ran an article about haunted houses by Mary Pope-Handy. Hayley Ryan asked the question in a post on RealTalk. And she got plenty of responses.
I haven't dealt with the situation but it seems that it might as well be disclosed as the chance of the person doing it again are kinda slim. –- Ron Tiller
“Oddly enough, in the span of one month I had a listing where a suicide had occurred and a buyer who was purchasing a home where a suicide had occurred.
“On the sale side, in Colorado this does not need to be disclosed. There is no place for this on the disclosure form. If the buyer asked I would have to obtain the seller's authorization to release the info. Otherwise the buyer is told to check with the Police department if they have a concern or question.
“On the buy side, we were talking to the builder of the home to see if there had been any warranty issues previously, as all we knew was that the property was now bank owned. In front of the buyer, the builder's agent said, "Oh, you mean the house where the guy blew his head off." Buyer was taken aback, but we talked about it outside of the sales office. Buyer didn't believe that this caused any problems with the house, and began acting like the house (which was very nice) was like a stray dog that just needed some love! Of course when the bank balked at making needed repairs on the home we made sure to start calling it the "suicide house" and suddenly they were more than willing to make repairs!” -– Michael P. Kearns
"I did have a seller commit suicide in one of my listings a number of years ago. Not only was he a seller, he was also a friend and had been for a number of years. We weren't required to disclose it, but felt that if it might make a difference to a buyer as to whether or not they'd buy that house, then we felt it important to let them know.
"It was not disclosed unless we could tell that there was real interest. If we hadn't disclosed it, a neighbor certainly would have.
"Better to have come from me BEFORE they bought in my opinion. Our current disclosures don't require it, but unless your laws specifically state not to, I'd tactfully disclose it to those buyers with real interest. One of our CE instructors here put it this way, if it's anything to do with a property that might affect whether the buyer would buy, disclose, unless it violates the Fair Housing Laws.
"Better to be safe than sorry ..." --Ann
"About the suicide situation, just because something is no "required" does not mean it is against the law or wrong to provide this information to the buyer. Here in Tennessee, it is not required either, but there certainly is nothing to prevents the buyer's agent (under a buyer agency contract) from telling the buyer. In fact, I believe that if the buyer's agent has knowledge of such a situation, then it would be required to tell the buyer under the theory of full disclosure. -- Tom Hathaway
"It is NOT required disclosure here in Missouri. However, let me tell you a story. Woman commits suicide in a home. Several months later the husband sells the home without disclosure. The day the buyers (young couple, wife 7 months pregnant) are moving in, next door neighbor comes to greet them and couldn't wait to bring up the suicide. The buyer/wife/pregnant is so upset she tells her husband she simply can't live in that house. She gets ill, he takes her to hospital. He tells the movers to stop unloading. He finds a storage locker and has them take all their belongings to storage. They then find lodging in a hotel. Call a lawyer, go to court and the judge rescinds the sale. He said, although it is not required to disclose, common sense should have prevailed. The seller had to return all their money (the agent got to keep the commission), then go on to pay all the expenses for the movers and storage. Seller also had to pay for several months lodging until they found another home.
"You never know what a judge is going to do. So what does common sense tell ya? Also, I know most of us here practice the Golden Rule, "Treat others as you would like to be treated". If it is an adverse material fact, disclose, disclose, disclose!!!" -- Jim Beardsley
"Classic "stigmatized property." Simple disclosure is best as the neighbors will tell'm after they move in anyhow & it might be significant to some, but not to others." -- Terry Crook
"I agree with you.
"owever, in California we don't necessarily have to disclose certain deaths.
Such non-disclosure seems to me to be contrary to our "duty of honest and fair dealing and good faith."
"Excerpt from California Civil Code Section 1710.2 <http://tinyurl.com/hn5od> "1710.2. (a) No cause of action arises against an owner of real property or his or her agent, or any agent of a transferee of real property, for the failure to disclose to the transferee the occurrence of an occupant's death upon the real property or the manner of death where the death has occurred more than three years prior to the date the transferee offers to purchase, lease, or rent the real property, or that an occupant of that property was afflicted with, or died from, Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type III/Lymphadenopathy-Associated Virus." -- Fred Salzer
"I had a suicide and possible murder in a home I sold.. what I did was put on the disclosure form that buyer should contact police department re: Case # 1234.. for further details..
"You can bet if you don't disclose the issue the next door neighbor will ..." -- Kaye Thomas
"I did have this situation several years ago. Owner did not want it disclosed, I checked state law, and found this disclosure not to be required. Without seller's consent, cannot disclose. Checked Rhode Island state law, still not required to disclose.
"Naturally, a very conscientious neighbor couldn't wait to tell the buyers.
"The husband was angry, and I referred him to the applicable law, and his attorney concurred with me.
"His wife called her priest and had him bless the house.
"When it came time to sell, they contacted me. Why? Because I paid attention, crossed my t's and dotted my i's." -- Kathy Skrzpiec
Canadian legal references:
"A. No criminal, civil or administrative action may be brought against a transferor or lessor of real property or a licensee for failing to disclose that the property being transferred or leased is or has been:
"1. The site of a natural death, suicide or homicide or any other crime classified as a felony.
"2. Owned or occupied by a person exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus or diagnosed as having the acquired immune deficiency syndrome or any other disease that is not known to be transmitted through common occupancy of real estate.
"3. Located in the vicinity of a sex offender.
"B. Failing to disclose any fact or suspicion as set forth in subsection A shall not be grounds for termination or rescission of any transaction in which real property has been or will be transferred or leased." -- Mervin Burgard (Ontario, Canada)
"This was in today's (May 4, 2006) Daily Real Estate News from Realtor Magazine Online. Do you think the client bought this house? I cannot even begin to imagine how awful this must have been for them both." -- Allison Vail
Practitioner Finds Dead Body in House For Sale
(May 4, 2006) -- A real estate practitioner discovered a man's body when she took a client to a house in Encinitas, Calif.
The body was found at about 11:30 a.m. when the real estate professional and her client went inside, the Encinitas sheriff's department said. The sheriff's department said the house had furnishings and was occupied.
The four-bedroom house, for sale for $844,000, has been on the market for six weeks, according to the listing agent, who was not the practitioner who found the body.
Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, Elizabeth Fitzsimons (04/30/06)
"So much for staying in contact with your seller. Six weeks huh? Maybe it wasn't the seller. Who knows. It's very sad though." -- Alice Newman
"It is NOT required disclosure here in Missouri.
"However, let me tell you a story. Womans commits suicide in a home.
Several months later the husband sells the home without disclosure.
"The buyer/wife ... she simply can't live in that house.
"Call a lawyer, go to court and the judge rescinds the sale. He said, although it is not required to disclose, common sense should have prevailed.
"The seller had to return all their money ...
"You never know what a judge is going to do. So what does common sense tell ya? Also, I know most of us here practice the Golden Rule, "'reat others as you would like to be treated.' If it is an adverse material fact, disclose, disclose, disclose!!!" -- Jim Beardsley
Questions About Cemeteries
"Does anyone have experience with a home bordering a cemetery?
"Was this proximity an automatic detriment?
"Is it naive think that a long-established, well-maintained, and quiet cemetery greenspace could in fact be an asset to the neighboring property?" -- Brynn
"I think there would be a fairly low percentage of buyers who may not want to buy in that neighborhood, but I don't think most people would care." -- Mitzi
"You can be sure nothing is going to be built on the land where the cemetery is located. Good selling point, 'Nothing will be built behind you'.
"I had a buyer 95% ready to sign for new construction until we toured the neighborhood and she saw that there was a cemetery on the land adjacent to the new home community.
"She allowed as how her elderly father from China could never live in that house. Since he lived with her family, the house was out. No matter. I sold her a house at a much higher price."-- Lenn Harley
"Actually I sold a home that had cemetery behind it about 2 years ago.
Buyers liked it because the area was dead and quiet." -- Terry L. Osburn
"ABC show 'Freaconomics Friday?' 'How is a REALTOR is like a funeral director?'
"S/he buries you lovingly like a funeral director ... with paperwork" :O).
Funeral director charges you a flat fee, so do some agents. Some top funeral directors charge astronomical fees for lavish funerals - just like commission on a lavish house.
"You get the last piece of real estate ever - 6 feet under :o) You do not hold a title to it though, you obtain rights in perpetuity to it though, unless Supreme Court votes that a local community can appropriate a private property (cemetery) for better commercial use - building a condominium :o) Then your "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" become part of the new real estate landscape.
"Boy, Realtors do not die, they make a difference in this world :o)
"P.S There is an absolutely astounding Funeral Museum in Houston, I think one of a kind in the world :) - every Realtor should visit it :o) They even have a coffin for 4 :o) - like an oversized bedroom you know.
"Parallels with real estate and funeral industry are just amazing :o) We can go on forever :o)" -- IGGY Dybal
"When I was house-shopping in Michigan years back I was shown a house that was so great in so many ways, but that it shared the property-line with a cemetery gave me pause.
"The little cemetery could have been mistaken for a park unless one knew better, but I just couldn't get past the graves.
I" ended up paying much more for a lesser house on a smaller lot in a less desirable area. Now, older and less skittish, I wonder how I could have been so silly." -- Brynn
"All this conversation regarding cemeteries reminds me of a story I recently heard. It seems this little five foot two inch grave digger got started late one day and by the time he had dug a six foot deep grave everyone had gone home and there was no one to help him out of the hole he had dug. He tried everything to get out by himself but to no avail so he just settled down in a corner of the grave to wait out the night.
"Sometime after midnight he heard footsteps approaching. One of the town drunks had closed up a local bar and was taking a shortcut home through the cemetery. Some how he managed to fall into the grave. He began to wildly try to get out. Finally the little grave digger said 'You had just as well settle down for the night because you are not getting out of here'. BUT HE DID!!! -- Hank Kindall
"I currently have a listing that backs up to a cemetery in a very upscale section of Scottsdale. Yes, I feel it is a little naive to think others may feel the cemetery is an asset to the neighborhood. This cemetery has been here since the early 1900's and the neighbors (most who have lived in the area 3-5 years) want to find a way to have the cemetery moved. I disclose what is close by and let people make their own choice. It is a quiet neighborhood." -- Brynn
"I bet it's quiet :)
"What's the deal with fences around cemeteries? Those inside, can't get out and those outside, don't want to get in:) Oh well, you live across from the cemetery, and one day you find out you "live" across from home:)" -- Meir Aloni
"I currently have a listing that backs up to a cemetery in a very upscale section of Scottsdale. Yes, I feel it is a little naive to think others may feel the cemetery is an asset to the neighborhood. This cemetery has been here since the early 1900's and the neighbors (most who have lived in the area 3-5 years) want to find a way to have the cemetery moved. I disclose what is close by and let people make their own choice. It is a quiet neighborhood." -- Cheryl L. Savage
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Negotiating Tip 112: Misconceptions
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