The suicide house

Real Estate Agent with Hometowne Ventures, LLC

Earlier this week a HUD home came up on the market. 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms on 3/4 acre with a creek running through the back yard. Best of all, it is priced $99,000 under fair market value! I immediately sent a spec sheet out to my buyers database. It didn't take long before I scheduled my first showing. After the showing I walked through and took a video of the home so I could show my investors who don't have time to look at houses all day. During my 7th showing of this home the buyer was very interested and it was just a matter of offering asking price or try to negotiate. As he was walking around the house for the fourth time, he asked me "did someone commit suicide in this house?" What would make him ask such a question? It turns out that his family remembered hearing someone commit ed suicide on this short quiet street about 9 months ago. I quickly Googled the address on my phone and saw no mention of any suicide. We went over to the neighbors to get the scoop and sure enough, the previous owner shot himself in the basement. My buyer cancelled his offer on the spot. I couldn't blame him.

As I tell people this story I ask them what they would do and it is about 50/50. We can all agree on the fact that now that I know the situation, even though I don't legally need to disclose this information, ethically I do.

So now it's your turn.......

What would you do?

Buy the house because it is great and $99,000 under fair market value


cancel the deal because someone commited suicide in it?


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Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production

I'm not superstitious at all, but in the reality of the world we're now living in.  Full disclosure is imperative.  Needless to say, I thinkn a lot of people would be freaked by it. 

Jul 08, 2010 01:52 AM #1
Andrew Herren
Craig Massee Real Estate - Milledgeville, GA

Reminds me of the scene in "World According To Garp" where the plane crashes into the home he is looking to buy. He buys it on the spot and says "I'll take it, what are the chances of that happening again". I think people would be surprised if they knew how many homes they have looked at or lived in had at one time had a death in them. What about the property itself? Man has been living and expiring for many years. Natural causes or suicide...what's the difference?

Jul 08, 2010 01:59 AM #2
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

You should follow your own State's laws about this. . in Maryland, we are not allowed to reveal anything about the house that is considered a stigmatized property. . .

From the sellers point of a view. .

and if you were in Maryland. . your being ethically correct with your buyer clients could cost you your license.. .

Jul 08, 2010 01:59 AM #3
Cathy Polan
Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty,Brokerage - Trenton, ON
Royal Lepage Proalliance Realty Sales Rep.

Fernando:  In Canada you must disclose any stigma's with the property.

Jul 08, 2010 02:06 AM #4
Wendy Hayden
Photographer, Home Stager, ePRO - Richmond, VA
Chesterfield, Richmond & Powahatan

If you don't know, all you have to say is "I don't know" then it is up to your buyer to research it himself.  I would never go talking to neighbors to track down something that could hurt the sale of the home.

Jul 08, 2010 02:07 AM #5
Andrew Herren
Craig Massee Real Estate - Milledgeville, GA

This would have been a violation of Georgia license law as well. You should have told your buyer to reasearch this themselves.

Jul 08, 2010 02:08 AM #6
Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

Each jurisdiction will have different laws about properties with stigmas, however, you wouldn't want to feel like you're pulling the wool over your client's eyes. Some people would be ok with buying a house like that, others wouldn't.

Jul 08, 2010 02:08 AM #7
Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 305.81.HOUSE (46873)
eXp Realty LLC - Miami, FL
GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay |

Interesting.  In Florida this changed in the last few years and we are not required to disclose deaths in a home.  However, if a seller disclosed it to me, I'd advise that we disclose it as well.  It's easier to overcome this at the beginning of a home search than to have a buyer find out from a neighbor at the walk-through.

Jul 08, 2010 02:11 AM #8
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

This is the buyer's due diligence to check this information out.    In Colorado you are not to disclosure this information about your listings.

Jul 08, 2010 02:15 AM #9
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

From the buyer's perspective, I would definitely buy it, especially as an investor.  The stigma would fade over time.

Jul 08, 2010 02:23 AM #10
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Ryan, you did the right thing, even if you were not legally required to disclose that fact.  You helped your buyer make a decision and that decision turned out to cancel the purchase.  Just think if they bought the house and later found out, how upset and disappointed in you they might be.  As far as me, personally, I would not buy a house where someone had committed suicide. 

Jul 08, 2010 02:50 AM #11
Sam White
College Station, TX
Integrated Marketing - Bryan College Station,

I've found there are a lot more suicides than I thought. Knowing and disclosing could have softened the news and maybe kept the deal together.

Jul 08, 2010 03:02 AM #12
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I bought a house where there had been a suicide. We were told verbally when we bought.  We did a written disclosure when we sold it.   

Are you acting as a buyers broker?  Or as a subagent to HUD?  What does your state law say about disclosure AND about agency... that matters a lot more than what any other agent thinks about it... IMHO

Jul 12, 2010 01:16 AM #13

I found this thread after googleing what to do when you find out there was a suicide in your house. Our story is actually pretty unbelievable!! We JUST closed on this house TODAY! After calling up a friend of my son's that we knew lived in the area to come over and play, his Mom asked which house we bought. When I told her, she asked if I knew the history of the house? I said, "no", because I had no idea what she was talking about. Well, long story short, there was a suicide there 8 months ago. A mother of 3 young boys shot herself in the bathtub of the master bath. And it was one of the boys that found her.

I am,,, I can't even come up with the words for what I am feeling!! I'm mad, I'm sad for that women, and her children.  I KNOW I will NEVER be able to enjoy (or even use for that matter) the jetted tub I was so looking forward to. I don't want my 2 sons growing up in the neighborhood with all the kids making fun of them that they live in the "haunted" house where that lady killed herself!! We all know how mean kids can be to each other.

I am beside myself and want to find a way out. We literally closed on this house 14 hours ago, and now we've found this out. I know I can not live in this house. IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO???

I've read a little about the "right to resend" laws and the 3 day limit, but I think that may only be for the bank you're using and not your actual contract and offer to purchase the home. Can ANYONE help,,please.

As a widowed women, with one son who lost his father at 1 and 1/2, we don't need any more death in our lives. I will do anything to get out of this home ASAP!! 

May 13, 2011 06:19 PM #14
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Jocilyn I don't think "right to rescind" applies to real estate in any state, but I am not an attorney.    Contact a real estate attorney, that's a legal question.  

The author of this post seems to have abandoned the site.

May 14, 2011 12:06 AM #15
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