Would you buy a "haunted" house? How about one where a murder has occurred?
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, or care about a previous incident, there are many people who DO.
In real estate, these homes are referred to as "stigmatized" properties.
Other properties that fit into this category include those where a murder, suicide, or other violent crime has taken place. How about the presence of disease?
If you are in the market for a house or are thinking about buying, you may be interested to know that there is no statutory obligation in Florida for an owner or real estate agent to inform prospective buyers that the house is stigmatized. However, because of case law implications,I personally disclose if I know the property is stigmatized. This disclosure comes with the approval of the seller.
This information should be disclosed, if you are selling such a home. The advantage is that the buyer cannot come back later and sue. And even if the legal action has no merit, the hassle isn’t worth it. The disadvantage is that it may discourage a buyer who does believe in the supernatural.
Of course, ghosts and crimes are not the only elements that can stigmatize a property. Another factor of concern to potential homebuyers is disease, most notably, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.
The presence of a previous owner with AIDS may seem like a stigmatizing factor to many; however, that is not the case. Revisions to our nation’s fair housing laws have identified the handicapped as a protected class much like ethnic status, religious beliefs or gender, and AIDS is considered a handicap. Therefore, a REALTOR® cannot disclose the fact that an AIDS patient lived there as it is considered immaterial to the transaction.
In fact, if a real estate agent is specifically asked if anyone with AIDS does or has lived in the house, they are not obliged to reply. The response is more likely to be a generic statement about protected classes identified under fair housing laws and that legally, no comment can be made. Any prospective buyer should not assume that means "yes." It means, by law, this is a discussion that cannot take place.
I have sold real estate full time since 1998 and personally subscribe not only to state and national fair housing laws, but also to a strict Code of Ethics outlining proper behavior in dealing with both sellers and buyers.
Disclosure, for both buyers & sellers, is of utmost importance to me and is a principal by which I stand. If I know, then YOU will know. The only exception is if it would violate a Fair Housing Law.
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