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Unless you have purchased a newly constructed home there is always some uncertainty regarding previous “events” in a home. In the past, real estate transactions were based on “Caveat Emptor” (Let the buyer beware). Over time, however, certain exceptions have been established by New York courts that help protect buyers by increasing a seller’s risk of responsibility for undisclosed defects.
While not technically a “physical defect” there are past incidents in a property’s history that could cause “psychological damage” to a home. For example, if a home has been the scene of a violent or highly publicized murder or suicide, or has been long reported to be haunted, the house may be considered “stigmatized.”
A stigmatized property could be viewed as less desirable and therefore less valuable in the marketplace. In most states an owner would be expected to disclose this type of defect, possibly causing the house to be viewed as an undesirable property.
Decades ago, deaths at home were rather commonplace and most homes had a history of “natural deaths.” Most buyers would view these homes as common and customary to the area and such ‘natural deaths’ would not have a negative effect on value or appeal.
As always, consult your attorney and realtor about what is required in your state. One thing is for certain: when asking a seller about specific situations or defects regarding their property they must be truthful, regardless of any disclosure laws or regulations.
If you must know about potential deaths in a home you’re looking to purchase, you can research online at sites such as “DiedInHouse.com” or “housecreep.com”
Personally I am very happy living with the uncertainty of any of the bumps and noises I hear at night!
Have a happy and safe Halloween!
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