School News

Different States Look at Issues Quite Differently.....

- Apr 28, 2010      Archive

Imagine we are standing on the porch of a home, you as the agent and I am your prospective buyer. While turning the key in the door lock you casually mention, “Oh, by the way, a couple of owners ago, the husband killed his wife and two children in this house… It really wasn’t that recent”.

I am no longer your prospective buyer for this property because I have firmly crossed it off my list, although I may or may not tell you this at the time. It won’t matter because you have more properties to show, and your conscience is clear. You’ve been the good agent with full disclosure and your broker sleeps a righteous sleep at night.

Think again. In some states such as Alabama and Florida, the seller may have a very good law suit against you, your broker, the firm, and perhaps the franchise. On the other hand, in some states, if you had not disclosed a death on the property, the buyer could sue you, the seller, and everyone else in sight with a likelihood of a big win and early retirement.

It depends; and the point of this is that laws regarding stigmatized properties are very state-specific, and vary more than you might believe.

Alabama law states a death on the property is not a material fact that must be disclosed. In addition, Alabama is a buyer-beware state—it’s the buyer’s duty to discover anything about the property that doesn’t directly affect health and safety. Florida law mandates the fact that a property at any time was or was suspected to have been the site of a homicide, suicide, or death is NOT a material fact in a real estate transaction, and failure to disclose cannot be a cause of action against a property owner or a real estate licensee. Your seller isn’t going to be happy about your loose lips.

Other states don’t address death on a property in regards to disclosure, and buyers not only don’t have an obligation to be wary, but can rely on real estate licensees to disclose anything and everything regarding a property that the buyer might want to know.

So, know your state laws. Don’t end up in court.

Dallie Moriarty
Senior Instructor
Cooke Real Estate School

Coming soon---is a ghost a latent defect?