Disclosing a “Stigmatized” House in Maine – Do I Have To?
A friend of mine was the Executrix of the estate of her ex-husband and I recently helped her settle the estate. There had been a fire in the house and her ex-husband had died as a result of it. During our discussions on what to do with the house, she asked me, “do I have to tell people that he died there?”
My answer to her was, NO, Maine does not have a stigmatized property disclosure requirement. She did not have to disclose that information. (I did tell her there are ALWAYS “helpful” neighbors who can’t wait to share this information, though. And I told her she did have to disclose that there had been a fire.)
Maine does not require a seller of real estate to disclose a death of any type – natural cause, accidental, suicide, or murder. As a seller’s agent, unless I have been given permission to disclose by the seller, I cannot do so.
Now, on the other hand, as a buyer’s agent, if I know any material facts that might affect my buyer’s decision to purchase the property, including a death on the premises, I am required to disclose them to my buyers.
So my advice to sellers in Maine is: no, you do not have to disclose a death, but be aware that neighbors most likely will do it for you. My suggested response to any inquiry regarding a death (or crime) on the premises is to refer the person asking to the local police department.
My advice to buyers in Maine is: if you don’t want to live in a home where someone has died, THEN MAKE SURE YOU TELL ME. And understand that here in Maine, where there are so many older homes, many WELL over 100 years old, chances are really good that someone, at some time, died in them.