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Spooky house in the woods

Do sellers have to disclose a death or haunting?

Half of us knock on wood, wish upon a star, and won’t open an umbrella inside. We’re superstitious. And a home with murder, death, and ghosts are definitely bad feng shui. But how do you know if a house you’re considering buying has had any of those spooky occurrences? What does the seller have to disclose?

A peaceful death in the house

It’s usually not necessary for a seller to disclose a peaceful death unless the buyer asks. Keep in mind that a vast majority of us (80%) hope to die at home. So it’s not always a bad thing to have someone have died in the house. A peaceful death in a home is fairly common (20% of people die at home) and not something most states require a homeowner to disclose. California, South Dakota, and Alaska are a little different though. In these states, they do have to disclose it if it happened within the past three years. Everywhere, however, some types of death (such as by AIDS) cannot be disclosed.

If the death was directly related to the house, as example, if someone was killed by falling down the basement stairs because there was no railing, almost every state will require it to be disclosed (even after the safety issue was corrected).

Violent death in the house

Murders and suicides are a different story. Most people don’t want to build a life where tragic things happened. In the case of a violent death, the property is considered stigmatized. Like a physical defect such as water or fire damage, a violent death is something that can affect the home’s value. Sellers in many states are required to disclose the events.

See what must be disclosed in your state: nolo.com/state-seller-disclosure-requirements

Ghost in the house

If a home is known to be haunted – either in the community or nationally, it’s treated differently than if the homeowner only feels like it’s haunted. Famously haunted houses are stigmatized and its value and potential to sell is impaired. These types of hauntings should be disclosed. If an owner has seen a few strange things during their time in the house, but it has never been officially documented, they’ll probably keep this knowledge to themselves.

What can you do?

In general, the rule is “buyer beware” when looking to purchase a property. Do your own research. Ask questions. And talk with your real estate professional if you have any concerns. Companies like diedinhouse.com can even provide you with a report on deaths, drug activity, fires, and other information you may want to know before you buy.

If you have any questions about getting a loan for a spooky property, talk to your local Mann Mortgage loan professional. They live in your community and can help you find the neighborhood with the best Halloween parties. Find your local loan officer: mannmortgage.com/find-a-loan-officer.

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