There’s a Ghost in the Room: Do we have to tell anyone?
Do you believe in ghosts? Would you buy a house if you thought it was haunted? What if someone was murdered in the property? What if the former owner was a convicted criminal? The Edmonton Journal posted a great article about stigmatized properties this week that’s definitely worth a read if you’re thinking of buying a home.
A stigmatized property is defined by RECA as: one that has an unfavourable quality that may make it less attractive for reasons that are unrelated to its physical condition or features. Examples of stigma issues may include: a suicide or death in the property, the property was the scene of a major crime, the address of the property has the wrong numerals, or reports that a property is haunted. What one person finds unacceptable may not be a stigma to another.
Sellers don’t have to disclose peculiar or disturbing facts or circumstances about their home…. unless you specifically ask.
We’ve worked with many clients that have had specific but unusual house hunting requirements, some have required a home where no one had died in the property, some wouldn’t live near a cemetery and there are many others.
For example, if you’re concerned that there may have been a death in the property, what would cause you specific concern?
- Would you find a death caused by a violent act or suicide unacceptable?
- What if the family brought an elderly grandmother home to die in the comfort of her family and familiar surroundings?
- Suppose it were a crib death of a newborn?
- What if you learned the owner’s pet had recently died in the home? Would you feel differently if the death was natural or if poison was suspected?
- Would you be concerned if a person had been killed by a car on the street in front of the house?
- Would you be as concerned by a death that occurred 50 years ago as you would with a recent one?
The important thing to remember is that just because it’s important to you, doesn’t mean it’s important to everyone, so you need to ask. When we’re helping someone find a house, we have an extensive questionnaire they can complete, to help identify their wants and needs, so we can ask sellers the right questions.
So if you don’t want to live in a home where a murder took place, and you specify that with your agent, they can ask the seller’s agent, and the seller is obligated to answer honestly. But if you don’t ask, they’re not going to tell.
About Sara MacLennan
Sara MacLennan is the Director of Marketing at Liv Real Estate and a licensed Real Estate Associate. The bulk of Sara’s experience and wealth of expertise lies in on-line technology and marketing both for agents and consumers. Sara is the former National Director for Interactive Marketing for Coldwell Banker Canada where she was responsible for an extensive training program traveling to offices across the country training agents and brokers on marketing and technology. Find Sara on Twitter @edmontonblogger.