A Ghost Materializes - But is it a Material Fact?

Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565


Homeowners are often curious about what they will be required to disclose in the process of selling their homes.

They ponder whether they will need to disclose the real reason they are selling the home is because of noisy and obnoxious neighbors.

An occasional Seller will question whether the ghost or two, "residing" in the home, needs to be disclosed.

While we're observing the Halloween spirit, I'll ask a question to add a little humor - When a ghost materializes, does it become a material fact; but become an immaterial fact if it does not materialize?

In the State of California, we are a long way from a couple decades ago, when Residential Purchase Agreements were one page, with no disclosures.  We now have home-sale disclosure laws requiring Sellers to reveal issues or problems, which have a material effect on market value or desirability of a residence.

It is important that Sellers disclose any neighbors, which are noisy and obnoxious.  There is a case, which the California Court of Appeal granted rescission and refund of the buyer's money because of the seller's failure to disclose the neighborhood nuisance. The case is Shapiro v. Sutherland (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 666.

It is important to understand that certain things considered obnoxious, to you as a Seller, many be somewhat attractive to a potential buyer - for instance, the ghost(s) one particular Seller was concerned about.  In the California Mother Lode, there are at least two inns, which come to mind, considered (or at least advertised) as haunted.  It seems "ghostly" presence, can occasionally be seen as having value.

To summarize, in addition to the usual issues coming to mind in disclosure - the faulty plumbing, the electrical outlet that doesn't function, the smoke that billows out of the fireplace into the house, because the chimney needs to be swept, needs to be disclosed.  Better yet, if it costs a few dollars to fix the defect or issue, than by all means, repair it.  It will likely pay dividends in a home sale.

Full disclosure of all construction defects of the home, as well as neighborhood nuisances, and issues are very important.  Full disclosure is beneficial to Sellers as well as Buyers, because to not disclose, can become costly; particularly, when an issue hasn't been addressed, and finds its way into litigation, haunting you like a ghost or two.

If you have more questions about what needs to be disclosed, be certain to ask your real estate professional.  We will be happy to discuss in more detail, the issues of your particular property that need disclosure.

Comments (34)

Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Like the phrase Location,  Location,  location in this case disclose,  disclose,  disclose.  Obviously that house was in just in the right location that reckless or drunk drivers crashed into it. When I lived in Upstate N.Y. there was such a house where that happened too. 

Nov 01, 2020 03:53 AM
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Hmm, our seller disclosure doesn't include a question about whether or not the home contains ghosts, haha.

Nov 01, 2020 04:51 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I've never met a seller who claimed to have ghosts in their home. How does one prove that?

Nov 01, 2020 05:13 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS

Great question, Kat!

Nov 01, 2020 10:38 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Myrl... I firmly believe that if a question of whether or not to disclose is asked, it probably means it should be disclosed regardless of what the law says. In NC there are things we are not required to disclose that other states do require, but if we are asked we can't lie.

Nov 01, 2020 05:16 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Our State (PA) has ruled if you have made a living by promoting your property as haunted, you can’t deny it when Selling 

Nov 01, 2020 05:33 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Your disclosures are way more intense than those out here in VA.  We are a buyer beware state.  Not much a seller has to disclose except for latent material defects.  

I suspect in our state, if we keep seeing home inspections waived, that our disclosures may get more involved.  A discoverable defect can't be found if you aren't having an inspection. 

Nov 01, 2020 08:58 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Featured in the group:  BARTENDER, MAKE IT A DOUBLE.

Nov 01, 2020 08:59 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Oh, aren't you clever, Myrl! 

I'm of the same belief as brother Endre Barath, Jr. - if you have to ask, you need to Disclose. Better to Disclose now instead of in front of a judge!

Nov 01, 2020 10:38 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Wow...the obnoxious neighbor reference was quite interesting. 

As for ghosts...

My last home had a family cemetary on the property. Quite close to the house. I LOVED it. When we listed for sale, we found out that not everyone shared our enthusiasm. LOL

Nov 01, 2020 12:18 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Myrl Jeffcoat - There is an area in Sedona where it is rumored that a wagon train of settlers was massacred. The area is all 7 figure homes.  I am stating right now that I have not seen anything out of the normal or paranormal but some said they have seen a woman in 1800's garb in a window and another home cemented in the fireplace because orbs would come down the chimney and fill the room. Crazy stuff. 

Nov 01, 2020 05:10 PM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Congratulations, Myrl, on your feature recognition.

This is good advice to share with prospective home sellers.

I have not yet seen any ghost disclosures.

Nov 02, 2020 05:07 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Myrl, Now you have me wondering what our state of Colorado has for a disclosure on this subject.


Nov 02, 2020 06:48 AM
Gwen Fowler-864-638-3599 SC Mountains Lakes Homes
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc - Salem, SC
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc.

I wish the regulations for what needs to be disclosed was the same in all parts of the state, I know its important to me to know what the history of a home is. I find it crazy if someone has died in the home that some states don't require that to be disclosed 

Nov 02, 2020 11:42 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

State laws can put an agent between a rock and a hard place. If your fiduciary duty is to obey the seller and the seller says don't tell that someone died here - or we have a ghost - then you'd better have some strong disclosure guidelines to protect yourself.

If you do tell, the seller sues you.

If you don't tell, the buyer sues you and the seller.

If you have a haunted  house, it's best to find a buyer who loves the idea.

Nov 02, 2020 04:00 PM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

Great post! Thanks for making this content!

Nov 04, 2020 05:28 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Thursday morning, Myrl.

Take care, be safe and have a great day.

Nov 05, 2020 04:04 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Myrl Jeffcoat - I love your take on this subject regarding "A Ghost Materializes - But is it a Material Fact?" 

What a logical answer about how to respond when people ask if there are ghosts. Makes perfect sense to me! 

Thanks for this very informative/educational post and it was fun to read too!

Nov 06, 2020 07:08 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Myrl Jeffcoat - I like this post!  Disclose. Disclose. Disclose.  Can we truly over- disclose?  I tell my sellers when completing the seller disclosure forms ... be the buyer - tell the potential buyers what you would want to know if you were buying the house. Now, about those ghosts? 

Nov 08, 2020 07:36 AM
Steffy Hristova
HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 480-966-9353 - Tempe, AZ
Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work!

Myrl, what a lovely read about when things are material or immaterial! I love the photo! Great post!

Nov 17, 2020 12:04 PM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Wednesday morning, Myrl. Have a great day and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving Wishes for Friends | Words of Gratitude

Nov 25, 2020 05:41 AM