I'm Selling My Home. Do I Have To Disclose The Burial In The Backyard?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP 0524642

Recently I met with a homeowner about selling his home. While touring his property and discussing matters I observed what appeared to be a fresh grave in his suburban backyard. A pretty large one. The owner looked at the grave and then looked at me and said... "I can scrape off the fresh dirt so it's not so noticeable if you need me to."

Let that sink in for a minute and pretend you're me.

After what seemed like an eternal moment of awkward of silence he revealed that this is where he very recently buried his pet dog, a 120 pound Rottweiler. 

That's a big animal. 

What if he didn't bury it deep enough?
What if it created an odor? What if it wasn't noticed by the buyer and six weeks later they discovered it while digging the area up for a pool? Would they then be forced to dispose of the carcass themselves? What if years went by and someone thought it was something else? 

Do you have to disclose the burial of a pet? Should you? It makes me wonder how many dogs and other pets are buried in other backyards. 

In this case the owner told me he dug about 2 feet under, which isn't deep enough in my opinion. I told him I could understand the loss, but disposing of a corpse  (especially of this size) would need to be done in a more appropriate manner. Perhaps somewhere else.

The thought of buzzards and buyers noticing a fresh burial wasn't something I wanted to answer to. I don't believe it is appropriate to bury a dog in the backyard, although we did it when I was a kid. In fact, I've known of a lot of people who have done this. 

What's your thought and why? 

Posted by


Greg Nino
, Houston area Realtor®.
Helping residential buyers, sellers and tenants 7 days a week.
Available @ 832-298-8555 

RE/MAX Compass (Formerly RE/MAX WHP)





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Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great information....I am glad Kathy chose to feature your post this week!

Aug 23, 2015 12:29 AM #20
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

That's a tough one. I sure wouldn't bury my dog in the yard if I planned on selling the house. Nor would I have the vet throw him in a dumpster! 

We've had many pets over the years and most are buried on our rural property. However, the last two were cremated. Some day we may scatter the ashes over their favorite places. 

Aug 23, 2015 12:39 AM #21
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Wow, what an interesting question. I would think being upfront with this would be the wisest thing. If I were a buyer I would probably want it removed prior to closing. Not sure how that would go over, but it's how I feel. 

I have a cemetary on my property....within feet of the home. I LOVE it! But a dog in the back yard just 2 feet down....no thank you!

Aug 23, 2015 01:30 AM #22
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Fifteen years ago we buried our little 12 lb dog behind the garage.  She was in a pine box and we dug down pretty deep.  When we sold the house several years later I told the buyers about it and everyone said fine. 

Later, they decided to build a new garage and called me - asked if we wanted to remove the box to our new yard since they thought they would disturb the grave.  My husband and I went over - and dug and dug and dug.  We knew exactly where we buried her (near a small tree), but we never did find the box! 

But I did feel it necessary to tell the buyers in the first place.  

Aug 23, 2015 02:02 AM #23
Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805
Action Realty - Apple Valley, CA
CRS, GRI 909-969-3805

Earlier this year, I had a buyer back out of a transaction where I was the listing agent. The house was a rental and one of the owners had a sign on the wall in the backyard that read "Pet Cemetery." I saw it on my initial walk thru and did not think much of it. I asked the owner if there were pets buried back there and was told no it was just a decorative type of thing. The first buyer's we had under contract saw it a few days into escrow and it freaked them out enough for them to cancel the sale.

Aug 23, 2015 02:37 AM #24
Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805
Action Realty - Apple Valley, CA
CRS, GRI 909-969-3805

A burial of a large pet like that should be disclosed. It may even violate some city codes. Cremation is best.

Aug 23, 2015 02:41 AM #25
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

Disclose everything. In this case, you're right to suggest that there is a better place for Rover. 

Aug 23, 2015 04:01 AM #26
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

2 feet under is definitely not enough. I've been told you need to use lime to neutralize smell.

Aug 23, 2015 06:09 AM #27
Sherry Scales
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Leander, TX
Realtor, for Austin, TX and surrounding areas

I have heard 3 ft minimum for the normal animal...120lbs is not normal, (that is the size of an adult) needs to be 5 ft. 

Aug 23, 2015 09:51 AM #28
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Vision Quest Realty - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Definitely ask the buyer to remove the dog and perhaps have him cremated.  I know this happens a lot, but the owner should have made some calls before the burial.

Aug 23, 2015 10:05 AM #29
Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

    I have buried a pet from time to time..  It is heartbreaking and emotional.  But for goodness' sake, go deep, especially for a large dog like that Rottweiler.  I put my own cats at least 4 feet under, mainly to keep them from getting dug up by raccoons or opossums.

Aug 23, 2015 10:49 AM #30
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I can almost feel his sorrow as he is digging the grave for his beloved dog, each shovel of dirt had to weigh at least a hundred pounds. But the back yard seems inappropriate to me.  It would be different if he was out in the country and the grave was out in the field.  I think it needs to be moved out of the yard. I would also check with the County Health Department too.

Aug 23, 2015 11:33 AM #31
Rachel D. Hayes
Walzel Properties LLC - Houston, TX
Buy & Sell with Rachel!

Very interesting! I believe that it should be disclosed up front. If I were buying, I would want to know something like this. If I were selling, I would feel better about disclosing this information, instead of not telling at all. 

Aug 23, 2015 02:47 PM #32
Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Well now, that's a new one for sure!  I would think the stink factor would be there if not buried too deeply.  Gross!

Aug 23, 2015 10:26 PM #33
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I can assure you that we've sold plenty of homes with pets buried in the back yards around here.  It's never been an issue.  I have one in my back yard.  Of course he's been there for 12 years so I'm pretty sure it won't smell.  

Aug 23, 2015 10:48 PM #34
Bill Roberts
Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate - Oceanside, CA
"Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner

Greg Nino This guy sounds like a jerk. This is just the tip of the ice berg. You will have other issues with him.

Of course you need to disclose IF YOU DECIDE TO GO AHEAD WITH THIS LISTING.

Bill Roberts

Aug 24, 2015 01:34 AM #35
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Greg Nino 

Well you've encountered a situation I have not, but I suspect there have been some homes where there were pets buried and nobody said a thing. Knowing this from your observation and the discussion, I think it has to be disclosed. There may be local ordnances that have an impact. Given how obvious it is, I would be very surprised it the buyer doesn't inquire. And what about down the road.


Aug 24, 2015 06:54 AM #36
Jill Moog
Coast & Country Homes and Estates, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad, CA Homes for Sale

Best headline ever! Interesting post.  A longtime client of mine recently told me her horse died and she buried him in her yard.

Aug 25, 2015 04:03 AM #37
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Regardless of whether this house is in city or county, two feet deep isn't sufficient for a large animal.  

Aug 25, 2015 09:39 AM #38
Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

Birds circling your listing might be perceived as an omen.  Hope your Seller removes Old Yeller!

Sep 02, 2015 01:34 PM #39
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