While working as a Massachusetts Realtor over the last twenty eight years one of the questions that always seems to come up is whether or not a Realtor is obligated to disclose a murder, suicide, haunting or other type of paranormal activity that may have occurred in a home or other Real Estate.
Wikepedia defines a haunted house as a home or other Real Estate often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property. Supernatural activity inside homes is said to be mainly associated with violent or tragic events in the building’s past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide.
Disclosing Murder, Suicide, and Haunted Homes in Massachusetts
This is one of those topics that I would be willing to bet at least half the Realtor’s polled would get the answer wrong. I am sure most Real Estate agents would say that they are required to disclose a haunted house or if someone died in a property by murder or suicide. They would be dead wrong:)
One of my beliefs is that every buyer should be entitled to know anything that could materially effect the value of a home or the ability to sell in the future. This in fact is one of the articles in the Real Estate code of ethics.
In Massachusetts anyways, a Realtor is not required to disclose these kinds of events in a property. Apparently lawmakers do not feel these kind of events are worthy of Real Estate disclosure. I suppose in the case of a haunted home it would be much harder to prove the actual existence of ghosts.
Many states require full disclosure of violent crimes such as murder and any other event that may stigmatize a property before it is sold. Not the case in Massachusetts!
Below is the excerpt from the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93, section 114 that discusses Real Estate disclosure for alleged haunted homes, murder and suicide:
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 para psychological or supernatural phenomenon.
No cause of action shall arise or be maintained against a seller or lessor of real property or a real estate broker or salesman, by statute or at common law, for failure to disclose to a buyer or tenant that the real property is or was psychologically impacted.
I find it kind of interesting that disclosure of a person who had AIDS was lumped into this kind of stigmatization. It does not seem all that similar of a disclosure issue?
While this is the case in Massachusetts you can not assume that in other states it is alright not to disclose known events such as a murder or haunting. Take a look at this in-depth article that discusses in much greater detail whether or not you need to disclose a haunted home, murder, suicide, AIDS or even whether or not a sexual predator has been identified as living in the area. What buyers and sellers need to understand is that the laws in one state can and often are much different than another. If you move around due to relocation it is highly advisable you find out what the laws are in your current state when it comes to these kinds of disclosures as well as others associated with buying and selling.
If you are a Massachusetts Realtor another thing to pay careful attention to is purposely deceiving someone. While non disclosure may not be an issue, blatantly lying to someone certainly could be. If you are marketing a home that is well know to be suspected of being haunted and a buyer ask you a direct question about it you should always be truthful of what you know.
Other Real Estate articles worth a look:
About the author: The above Real Estate information on disclosing murder, suicide and haunted Massachusetts homes was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 28+ Years.
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I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Natick, Worcester and Douglas.