Planning on buying a house this year?
If you’re even slightly squeamish, get ready to do some extra detective work.
If the property was the site of bloody crime, the seller does not have to divulge that scrap of information.
In a decision handed up in Pennsylvania last week, a panel of Superior Court judges reaffirmed that the sordid reputation of a home – no matter how gruesome – does not count as “material defect” and does not have to be disclosed to the buyer.
“The fact that a murder once occurred in a house falls into that category of homebuyer concerns best left to caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware, the court wrote.
This also applies in New Jersey.
Even if the realtor knows of the history, they are not obligated to disclose it. In this case, Janet Milliken asserts she would never would have bought the house she did if she had been aware of the grisly crime that took place there – a murder/suicide. Brokers often consider homes that have been the scene of a murder or suicide as “stigmatized.” There is also a fear that the house may be haunted. Milliken asserted that the [psychic] damage to the house was as real as any structural defect because the crime diminished the value of the property.
Here is something that always gets me… people die all the time all over the place and everywhere is NOT haunted. We can not prove ghosts and tales of hauntings which are often relating to things OTHER than who certainly died on the property. In fact, many hauntings are imaginary or made up or have more to do with the environment or perceived importance of the place. We simple CAN NOT say that when a person dies in a house, his/her spirit remains there. It’s folklore. It’s a superstition to believe that’s a bad thing.
So, while we can’t help feeling a bit creeped out by the idea that a violent encountered occurred, it is NOT a permanent imprint. But, the stigma created in society CAN be harsh, but it can also be lucrative, as the rise in paranormal tourism has shown. Perhaps advertising that the place MAY be haunted will increase the value and be attractive to those hauntrepreneurs looking for some unreal estate.
For more on this feeling we have about paranormal stigmatization, check out Bruce Hood’s Supersense Also available in paperback as The Science of Superstition: How the Developing Brain Creates Supernatural Beliefs
Piece from Ben Radford on Discovery News
Another piece on this: (28-Jan-2013) from ABC News.