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When You Unwittingly Buy the 'Murder House'


The Consumerist had an interesting post last week on the laws and ethics that govern the sale of houses that have had a murder or suicide occur in them. The post discusses "Sue from Massachusetts," a woman who closed on the purchase of a house, and learned two days later from a neighbor that the previous owner had committed suicide in the house. Sue said she would not have bought the house had she known this. The real estate agents claimed that they weren't aware of the suicide, and refused to "rectify" the situation.

Consumerist notes that Massachusetts law does not appear to require the disclosure of such information. Chapter 93, Section 114 of the Mass General Laws states:

The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction. “Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following:

    (a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling;

    (b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and

    (c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.

This brings up a couple of questions for me. First, does anyone know if other states have laws requiring disclosure of such information? I bet there are some laws out there that do require disclosure.

Second, what do you think of this? As the Consumerist put it, "would you buy a house if you knew a murder or suicide had taken place there?" Please weigh in.

P.S. -- I'm usually a pretty rational person but I think I'd still say, "No thanks!"

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 16, 2010 at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)


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