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Suicide/Murder Disclosure

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Gundaker
Thanks to all who originally responded to my post as to whether the seller has to disclose the incident of a murder or suicide in the home that they are selling.  What happens if the buyer (before closing) is told by another neighbor about the incident?  Assuming that the now aware buyer is upset due to non-disclusure by the seller and wants to back out of the contract, is there any way to resolve this problem.  Of course, I realize that hopefully few or none of you has been involved in such an issue.
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker Associate ,CRS,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi Ronald,

Not sure about other states, but in CA yes it could happen. If it's a material fact that could (not saying it would) affect the value of the property which should have been previously disclosed. I normally try to explain to my sellers to just tell the buyers right up front. People are usually more acceptable when they're still in the "honeymoon" stage, vs. finding out after the fact.

We've had a few murder houses, yet not many. One was a HUD repo, still had blood stains on the carpeting. Can you even magine?

One side note, some years back we had buyers show up for a final-walk through (in an area we rarely worked) on a vacant REO (only minimal disclosures required on this one) to find a chalk drawing of a body in the street right in front of the house. It appeared there was a gang shooting the day before, the buyer walked. I can tell you we felt very fortunate to find it prior to closing.

Aug 13, 2007 07:25 AM
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

Happened to an agent here in Silver Spring, Md. (not me personally)

Owner commited suicide by hanging in the house. Real Estate Agent puts house on market and gets a contract. (BTW in Maryland - disclosure is not required for suicide that occurs in a house, in this case probate attorney didn't feel like disclosing)
Fast Forward a couple of weeks and the buyer is talking with neighbors who let him know what happened in the house.  Buyer gets out of contract and gets his deposit back.  House goes back on market with a disclosure about what happened.  House sells for way less than 1st contract to an investor. 

This same house has sold 2 times since - without the disclosure about the suicide. 

Aug 13, 2007 07:28 AM
Frances C. Rokicki
Fran Rokicki Realty, LLC - Bolton, CT

In Connecticut, we advise the Sellers, that by our state law, they must disclose.  If you are the Buyer-Agent and your client asks you, procedure is to have the buyer put his request to the seller in writing , specifically asking if this has happened on the property. 

Luckily, we have options on the internet that offer many opportunities to discover issues that would affect the buyers decision on purchasing their new home.

We do have Seller Disclosures, but, new construction, estates and foreclosures do not need to comply.

Aug 13, 2007 07:34 AM
Larry Wright
nwRealty.Com - Tacoma, WA
I think you are better off to just let the Buyer go without a fuss.  But I don't see how this is a material fact affecting value.
Aug 13, 2007 07:34 AM
Lania DeMers
Rocky Mountain Realty Co. - Colorado Springs, CO
Broker, Rocky Mountain Realty Co.
In Colorado, we CANNOT disclose anything that would "psychologically impact" the sale of the home unless the Seller wishes to. It's a pet peeve of mine because I feel that such circumstances will ultimately impact the value of the home and the enjoyablility of that home. I did a post on this a couple of months ago...
Aug 13, 2007 08:09 AM
Victoria Small
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - Saint Louis, MO
Remember Small is the name...not the SERVICE!

Anything that might material effect the value of a home should be disclosed.

Aug 27, 2007 11:53 AM

I am a person in the State of  Virginia who has a lease to purchase contract with someone who did not disclose a death by suicide (hanging) inside of the home prior to signing of moving in furniture to the home.  When furnitire was being moved in the neighbors came over and notified of the death and that the home had not sold for that reason.  I was not told.  I did not stay one night in the home and now wish to move my furniture out and get my deposit back.  What is the law in the state of virginia regarding this issue of selling without a disclosure of suicide within the property.

  I read another post where a person from Silver Spring, MD wrote a sale that had the same contents as mine and the buyer did received deposit back. (This was Debbie Cook Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc)

Sep 13, 2010 05:47 AM