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3 Things Home Sellers Likely Don't Have To Disclose

By Bill Gassett | May 5, 2022

When buying a home it is essential to do a proper amount of due diligence. Learning as much as you can about the history of a house and it's surroundings is important.

Of course, most buyers are going to hire a home inspector to investigate the condition of the home. Getting a home inspection is a wise move as you never know what a home inspector will uncover.

The house may look like a well taken care of, spotless gem. However, that doesn't mean there isn't some serious problem lurking. A home inspection is well worth the money when considering such a significant investment.

In most states, seller's will fill out what is called a seller's disclosure or seller's property description. The statement will provide questions about what the seller knows and doesn't know about the property.

I am sure most sellers are honest when filling out the forms.

Unfortunately, there are things about a property that not every seller is required to disclose. Disclosure laws vary from state to state. In most states these three things are unlikely necessary to disclose:

  • Death in a property
  • A sex offender nearby
  • Haunted or paranormal activity

Let's take a look at each one of these issues a little bit further. If they would make a difference in finding out for your purchase decision, then the information provided will be helpful.

Did Someone Die in The House?

In most states disclosing deaths that took place in a home is not required. For some buyers, understanding how to find out if someone died in a house could be a critical piece of information.

There are some buyers who will not purchase a home if they know someone died in the property.

For others it depends on the circumstances. It is not unusual for someone to pass away in a home of natural causes. It happens all the time. Many folks would actually die peacefully in their home surrounded by family than passing away in a hospital.

Someone being murdered in the home is likely to be a different story. A violent homicide could be a deal breaker for many buyers. Even someone committing suicide might be too difficult to think about for some potential buyers.

If the death history of a home is essential to you, there are a few things you can do. The easiest is to ask the listing agent if it hasn't been disclosed.

You will have your buyer's agent have the seller's agent speak to the seller to see if they know. They may have no idea themselves or they might have heard rumors. It's worth asking.

If you don't have any luck, Maximum Real Estate Exposure, has an outstanding resource provided above the will give you all the methods for discovering death in a property.

It is not a common contingency found in offers, so you should investigate this before writing a contract.

Is There a Sex Offender Close By

There are few things that will scare parents that have children more than discovering there is a sex offender living nearby. It is one of those things you probably should investigate before purchasing a house.

Disclosure of sex offenders is another on of the things that may not be necessary for the seller or there agent to discuss. There are many sex predators out there and many buyers never even give it a second thought.

It is unlikely a home seller is going to put this on a disclosure statement if they are not required to do so. Even if there was a disclosure requirement, many sellers might not even know. After all, we live in a very transient society. People come and go all the time.

What is the best solution for finding out if there is a sex offender in the neighborhood? Go to the local police department and ask. Police departments are required to keep an accurate log of where sex offenders are located.

If you have any concerns what so ever, they are who you should be speaking to.

Is The House Haunted?

In most states it is highly unlikely a real estate agent or homeowner would have to disclose if a home is haunted or has paranormal activity. In the eyes of some haunted houses are folklore and are driven by overzealous imaginations.

Some of the ghost hunters out there clearly would disagree. If you have ever watched one of the shows about paranormal activity in properties you would know why.

Unfortunately, the laws have not caught up to what likely does exist. Most states protect homeowners and real estate agents being sued over something that is so challenging to prove.

It's important to remember that just because a home has been the scene of paranormal activity, doesn't mean you should avoid buying it. There can be friendly ghosts (not Casper) and those who's mission is to make the occupants uncomfortable.

Many people believe in ghosts and hauntings, but still purchase homes based on their own personal judgement.

If wanting to know if a property has any inklings of being haunted, a Google search may help. Just put in the address of the property and you're likely to see any reports related to paranormal activity.

If a home has been sitting with a high number of days on market it could be a clue something is amiss.

Final Thoughts

If you are relocating from one state to another, keep in mind the disclosure laws may differ from where you're coming from. If these items are of concern to you proper research will be in order.

Part of a buyer's agents job will be to help you perform you're due diligence. Lean on them for any help that is needed.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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