With Halloween only a few days away, people may be thinking about haunted houses more than other times of the year. But what if you own a property that you are trying to sell that is haunted? Or was once the scene of a crime such as murder? Are you legally obligated to disclose these types of things to potential buyers?
There are many obstacles to selling any home, but one with baggage certainly doesn’t make matters any easier. These types of homes are called “stigmatized properties,” and it is important to discuss with your real estate agent and/or attorney exactly what you need to disclose – and when. As a Realtor, a person is obligated to answer any question from a consumer honestly. You are required to avoid any efforts that may mislead a potential buyer on a property.
According to the MA General Laws Chapter 93, Section 114:
“The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction. ”Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following:
(a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling;
(b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and
(c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.”
Simply put, real estate brokers and sellers are not legally obligated to disclose any of these items. It is the buyer’s responsibility to discover these types of “stigmatizing” items on their own accord.
As a Buyer
In order to discover if a property you are considering is haunted or had an event such as murder occur on the property, there are a few things you can do. Your buyer agent can assist you in getting the answers you want as well. Here are a few tips to help you out as well:
- Check city records: See what is nearby or what was – maybe a home was demolished for a reason or a cemetery used to be in the land next door.
- Google: That trusty search engine can answer questions about almost anything – give it a try with your potential new address.
- Ask the neighbors: The people who have lived in the area a while should have a good idea of the events that have taken place there.
It is important to know the law as a buyer and seller so you can coordinate your real estate transaction accordingly. Your agent is also a great place to get answers – so ask away! If you are in the market for a Boston home, do your research and happy haunting – we mean HUNTING!