One thing home sellers have to disclose to buyers is whether a murder or a death related to the condition of a house occurred in the home.
The requirement varies from state to state, but that’s the general rule of thumb.
Deaths related to the condition of the home is a no-brainer – the buyer should know about these.
But the murder disclosure raised questions around our water cooler. Is this an anachronism – a nod to the superstitious? It is a useful gauge for the buyer?
There’s a world of information online as to whether a neighborhood has a crime problem – does disclosure really tell if a neighborhood is dangerous?
Is there some kind of irrational concern about the house being haunted?
And how far back would you worry? What if the event occurred 100 years ago?
This water cooler discussion spilled over into the newsroom, and we decided to share the opinions of several HousingWire staff members.
If I find out that someone died in a house I’m looking at buying, I’m out – right then and there – regardless of the way the person died. It’s an ender, pun not intended. That house is scratched off the list with the most permanent of permanent ink.
Some might argue that the passage of time might make it easier to accept, and that’s probably true for me, to a certain degree. But I’m still out on that house, regardless of when it happened.
If someone died in the house recently, I don’t want to live there – not now and not ever. I can’t imagine sleeping in the same room where someone died or showering in the same shower where someone died. Plus, if the person was the victim of a violent crime, that’s not the kind of neighborhood I want to live in, even if it was a wholly isolated incident.
That’s just a feeling I would never be able to ignore. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in karma and living in a home where someone died is just bad mojo. No thank you.
When it comes to murder, no matter how you spin the death or whatever situation you come up with, I wouldn’t live in the home, or even apartment. There’s no long explanation for why, other than the fact that I have a vivid imagination, and as safe as I feel with my fierce guard cat Kikko patrolling the home, I still would let my mind wander. It’s not a ghost issue or a paranormal problem, but I would steer away from this type of home like I steer away from scary movies.
I would rather not walk around my home constantly visualizing scenes from Law and Order, and with how my creative imagination goes, it would happen all day long.
It depends on how long ago and the circumstances of the event. If it was a home intruder shot by a homeowner, it won’t bother me – I’ll know I’m moving into a neighborhood with my kind of people. If it was more than a few decades ago and there had been owners in the interim, I also wouldn’t care.
But if it were some kind of horrible event – like a Helter Skelter mass murder, or there were kids killed – yeah, that would bother me. I don’t want to wake up in the night and see children’s handprints glowing on the walls as I hear ice cream truck music, only there’s no ice cream truck.
I've worked in home care and I'm familiar with hospice care, so the thought of someone dying from natural causes in their home would not bother me at all in buying a house. If there was a violent incident involving kids, I probably couldn't get over the sadness associated with that, but a murder in the house wouldn't be an automatic deal breaker for me. I think it's right to require that disclosure, although I'm apparently hard-hearted enough not to let it bother me if it was a good deal.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Is it a big deal and why?
Is it important to you to know if there was a murder in the house you’re buying?