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Ghost Stories

- May 14, 2010      Archive

What do you have to tell a prospective buyer about the seller’s house?

All states, even buyer-beware states, require a buyer be told everything that affects an occupant’s health and safety.

Question: Does the supposed presence of a ghost affect the occupants’ health and safety?
Some state laws, Wisconsin for example, do not require disclosure of an act or occurrence that has no effect on the physical condition of structures located on the property.

Question: Does the ghost slam doors or turn on lights and is this a physical condition? Some states give you better directions. In 1990 the New York State Supreme Court voted 3-2 in favor of out-of-town buyers who asked for a release of their deposit and damages after the seller refused to rescind the sale when the buyers discovered the home had a reputation for being haunted.

Question: Does this set a legal precedent that there are haunted homes?
Colorado immunizes non-disclosure of any circumstance that could psychologically impact the property, making it harder for a buyer to sue over a ghostly presence. Florida exempts the disclosure of a death on a property, but doesn’t address a haunting. However, Florida does require the disclosure of latent defects. A latent defect is defined as an invisible problem that is not readily apparent but which impacts the market value.

Question: Is a ghost a latent defect?
What if the agent doesn’t believe in ghosts? What if the buyers don’t? Who are you gonna call?
Beats me.

Dallie Moriarty
Senior Instructor
Cooke Real Estate School