SOS! Do you need to disclose a death at the property upon re-sale?

Mortgage and Lending with Seacoast Mortgage Corporation, RI (20021119LB & 20031576LL), MA (MC2107) & CT MLO 10920

I have received various opinions on this depressing topc, but need clarification for a borrower.  If there was a death at a property, does it need to be disclosed in the "seller's disclosure"?  Is the answer dependent upon which state the property is located in?  This buyer is looking in Rhode Island.

Does the answer also depend upon whether the death was due to natural causes or not?  Also, if the home was built over a graveyard, does this need to be disclosed by the seller?

How long does the disclosure have to be disclosed.  In other words, is the property always "cursed" with the unfortunate occurrence?

Any information is appreciated!  Thank you all!

Posted by

Ann Sabbagh, President

"The BEST compliment is a client referral: Thank YOUUU!"

Seacoast Mortgage Corporation

401-305-6906 or 508-243-1190

Residential & Commercial Financing


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Mary Warren
Las Vegas, NV
In Nevada the answer is no need to disclose a death.  Many people die of natural causes at home.  Now if it's a violent murder it might need to be on 2nd thought I'm not positive but I do know a regular death does not.  Imagine it varies from state to state
Apr 20, 2008 09:10 AM #1
Renae Fulton
First National Realty - Southaven, MS

It might be wise to check your state law.  In the states I have been licensed in it was not required to disclose this information unless the buyer inquired. You'll have to let us know what your state requires.

Renae Fulton



Apr 20, 2008 09:11 AM #2
Gini Moran
Keller Williams Realty - La Center, WA
Your LaCenter Realtor
I understood that material defects were to be disclosed, and that would not be material.  I agree with the first comment that it might depend upon the law of that state.  For Washington, it is not required---again, as I understand it.
Apr 20, 2008 09:17 AM #3
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
In Texas, you are required to disclose murders in the property, or any death that is due to something wrong with the property itself (e.g. broken bannister - someone falls and dies).  Otherwise, no other deaths are required to be disclosed.  Of course, that is only in our state.  Not sure about Rhode Island.  If you have a listing that was knowingly built over a graveyard, my guess is that it absolutely should be disclosed as well.
Apr 20, 2008 09:20 AM #4
Cathy & Gary Elmore
Coldwell Banker Tomlinson N - Deer Park, WA
In Washington it is not considered a material fact to the home.  Of course if you are asked and you have knowledge of the fact then you must disclose.  Even murder, think thats a grey area, I think I would be compelled to tell my buyers since I represent them and putting myself in their situation I would want to know.
Apr 20, 2008 09:24 AM #5
Tammy Anderson
"The Gateway Home Team" of RE/MAX Alliance - Collinsville, IL
Owens, Broker/Owner
I would think as the sellers agent you would not disclose but as the buyers agent, if you have knowledge you would need to disclose. 
Apr 20, 2008 09:32 AM #6
Dean Moss
Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL - Chicago, IL
Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team

Hey, Ann -

This is an interesting question, and varies from state to state.

Typically, in Illinois, you do not need to disclose any thing not material to the condition of the home.  Therefore, even a suicide or murder in your home need not be disclosed.

A few years ago, however, someone wanted to purchase serial killer John Wayne Gacy's old homesite, in unincorporated Norwood Park Township.  The home itself had been torn down as part of the investigation, and another home had been constructed in its place.

The new buyer was miffed when he would look out his window at all hours to see cars slow down, with the passengers taking scads of pictures.   He was more upset when people came knocking on the door, to inquire about the lot's notorious history.

He tried to sell, and had difficulty doing so.  Then, he sued his Buyer's Broker, contending the broker should have disclosed such a "Stigmatized Property."

To the best of my knowledge, the homeowner lost - because the Buyer's Agent had the duty to disclose material defects only.

As an aside, and off the record, I probably would have made the disclosure of previous ownership if I represented the buyer - just in case!  But, technically, that is not required here!

Call or write us anytime to further discuss.


Apr 20, 2008 09:37 AM #7
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552
Ann, you could check with your local board as to whether the house would be considered a "stigmatized" property in your state.  In some states it would have to be disclosed.  I personally think you would lower your liability if you do disclose it, because the new buyers will surely find out later from the neighbors.
Apr 20, 2008 09:41 AM #8
Crystal Bush
I Am Marketing - Atlanta, GA

I would assume that a death "at" a home isn't looked to be something that would always have to be disclosed.  But, as Jason said, a death "because of" a home, I feel, you're morally obligated to disclose, atleast if the issue has not or cannot be resolved even if legally you don't have to.  You can't go wrong by checking on the state laws.

Apr 20, 2008 09:53 AM #9
Sandy Bliven - RE/MAX South County

Hello Ann, Good Question!  I am from Rhode Island, and just recently there was an murder/suicide in Cumberland.   Although any stigma's about property is public knowledge and any buyer could research it - My personal choice is to talk about the property, not the people!!   Murders, suicides, haunted homes with ghosts and goblins, selling a house that is stigmatized requires special skills.  You ask, what needs to be disclosed, what doesn't?   What does common sense tell you?  My motto is, practice the Golden Rule, "treat other's as you would like to be treated" - If it is an adverse material fact, disclose it, but remember, it is the property that you are selling, not the stigmatism

I hope this helps. 


Apr 20, 2008 09:56 AM #10
David Franklin Farkas


Whether you disclose or not, many if not most people will feel something strange about the house. The emotions are still there and, perhaps the spirits of those who died. People will 'just not feel right' withou knowing why.

All of that unseen stuff can be cleared so that people will respond to the house not the way the house 'feels'



Apr 15, 2009 05:35 PM #11

We purchased a home from a church.  Soon after moving in the neighborhood kids started telling our children that bad things happened at the house.  We started talking to people and found out some guy attempted to kill his ex-wife (she was ONLY wounded) and then commited suicide.  We have 3 young children and the youngest refuses to go upstairs (where his bedroom is) by himself because he is scared.  I strongly feel something like this should be disclosed, we wouldn't have purchased the home knowing it.

Feb 13, 2011 03:34 AM #12

I found out the owner at 510 Cartagena Lane in San Ramon, CA  94583 died in her home in 2010 the house was placed for sale immediately after her death-red flag!  I was bothered that when I originally asked if there was a death in the home my questione was ignored until I did further research. It is the Law in California that a real estate agent must tell you about this  if they were asked. It is what made the decision not to further look into purchasing. Check the recorders office for the death information, I did. Check the recorders office in that county your trying to purchase the home in. Purchasing a home that someone died in is just creepy to me.

Nov 15, 2011 05:52 PM #13
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

CA: You have to disclosure any death on the property in last 3 years under California Civil Code Section 1710.2,  it's a material defect( a death occurred within three years of the date you make an offer to purchase or rent the home).

Aug 17, 2016 04:33 AM #14
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