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Real estate disclosure laws do not always include past deaths

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2014 | Residential Real Estate

When selling a house in Delaware, the law requires you to disclose certain things about the property to the buyer. Examples include whether there is radon in the home, and whether the property has any “material defects.” This is meant to prevent fraud in the real estate market.

Some places require that the seller disclose something that few of us would like to think about, but might want to know anyway: whether somebody has died in the house.

Properties built before the 1940s are likely to have had somebody pass away inside at some point, according to Discovery News. Most people who die at home do so of natural causes, but some are the victims of foul play.

If it is known that someone expired in a property, real estate agents often refer to it as a “stigmatized” home. People who believe in the supernatural may believe that the house is haunted by the ghost of the deceased. This can make it difficult to sell. Others may simply be uncomfortable with the idea of living in a place where a terrible crime was committed.

Last year, a Pennsylvania court ruled against a Delaware woman who was trying to undo her purchase of a home. After buying the place, she learned that it had been the site of a murder-suicide several years ago. She argued that the crime was a material defect, and the fact that the seller never disclosed it to her should allow her to void the sale.

The court disagreed, and ruled that sellers and real estate agents are not required to disclose a history of murder in a home, at least older ones.

Source: Discovery News, “Trying to sell Your Haunted House? Try Exorcism,” Benjamin Radford, July 10, 2014