Residential Disclosure Rules for Excluded Properties

The full interview with Eric Goldman is featured in Episode 2 of House Beautiful’s Haunted house podcast Dark house. Listen to the episode here.

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While state disclosure laws vary greatly from state-to-state, there are some things most people agree should be standard practice when selling a home: You must disclose the presence of lead-based paint on any property built before 1978, for example. The level of information surrounding maintenance history is a common disclosure in states, as obvious physical damage can be dangerous. But what if something bad happens to the property? It doesn’t. Abandonment a A physical trace?

In real estate terms, a foreclosed property is defined as a property whose character or condition has changed and is at risk of being rejected by tenants and buyers who believe it to be psychologically or emotionally defective. The most common exclusion events are murder, violent crime, or death. So whether one believes in ghosts or not, or bound power in any literal sense, bad vibes matter and one’s property can be suffocated with a bad name. And such properties may be legally required to disclose that name, depending on a few factors.

Preview for dream rentals

It suggests to the community that laws should be enacted to deal with alienated assets and how they should be dealt with. will do Pay attention to the reputation of the property. So to unpack the concept a little further, we spoke with legal scholar and Santa Clara University professor Eric Goldman. Learn more about the Excluded Properties field and disclosure rules below.

John list house

431 Hillside Avenue in Westfield, New Jersey was the 19-room home of John List, who was convicted of murdering his entire family in 1971.

New York Daily News//Getty Images

Housing Disclosure Rules

Housing notice laws are a complicated area of ​​law—perhaps because they vary so much from state to state. In some states, the seller is obligated to disclose the information even if the buyer requests it – and even if there is property control. For example, in Alaska, the listing agent must “report any known murders or suicides in the past year. If the agent does not, they are not liable.” In Maine, meanwhile, “the agent requires written permission from the seller to disclose the information to the buyer if requested,” and in Montana state law “prohibits disclosure of a suicide or crime by an agent,” according to Spaulding Decon, a cleanup service that offers crime scene, inventory and meth-lab cleanup. Of course, state disclosure laws often conflict with each other.

“I think it’s a reflection of the really repressed nature of the views” that come in on the fringe property issues, Goldman muses. “Judges don’t always agree on what needs to be disclosed. And state legislatures have made laws saying there’s a time you have to disclose, or there’s a time you don’t have to disclose, and those laws aren’t agreed upon. So the reality is these are simple questions, what a seller has to say, and when.” , and yet the answers will vary in different regions and in the specific facts that need to be revealed.

Even in the strictest disclosure law state, California, there are benchmarks. After three years, his death does not need to be explained. “There’s got to be some cutoff somewhere, right? You know, there’s got to be just a base to say. [as a seller] “I’m not responsible because houses have been there for 150 years and people have definitely died in there,” says Goldman.

Hidden Vs. Patent defects

When dealing with disclosure laws, it’s important to understand the difference between patent and latent defects. “They are patent defects. [physical] Things to look for in a regular property inspection,” Goldman explains. A property inspector visits the home, and writes a report calling out potential problems with the property. Most buyers opt for a property inspection, but you can choose to skip the property inspection and close on any of the previously mentioned items on the sale now. They are responsible as the new owner.

Sometimes the seller himself conducts the inspection. “Here in California, where we have a very hot real estate market, it’s not uncommon for a seller to inspect the property and provide that to all buyers before they can expedite the process and offer a way to expedite the auction. To eliminate some of the contingencies that a buyer might include in an offer,” Goldman said.

An exterior view of the Defeo home in Amityville

The Defoe family’s Long Island home, also known as the Amityville House of Horrors, has been the source material for many haunted house movies, books, series and podcasts.

Bettman//Getty Images

Hidden defects, on the other hand, are “things that a property inspector might not find during normal due diligence. But if the seller sees hidden defects that the property inspector can’t find and that the buyer doesn’t want,” Goldman adds, they may be required to positively disclose those defects.

Why are latent defects important? Non-physical issues can still affect a buyer’s willingness to purchase a property, plain and simple. In the context of the sale, the seller may know that the buyer is not aware of this event, but if they are aware, they may consider it as the material condition of the house.

Are some barriers better than others?

A ghost haunting a property is a stigma that can affect a property, but is more difficult to prove than an actual event such as a death or murder on the premises. Therefore, in a legal context it is rare for a property to be identified as a paranormal activity because it is very difficult to find reliable and credible evidence that can be presented in a court of law, Goldman explains. Of course, there are exceptions”, like Stambovsky vs. In the Ackley case, the judge tried to find an equitable solution based on certain circumstances.

Ironically, sometimes the reverse is true, as a foreclosed property may actually have value. More From the dark history. Marketing a home as a foreclosure “may attract a small but very profitable market,” says Goldman. But there are also some tricky disclosure rules that complicate that. If a broker wants to market the house, they can’t record the event or promise the haunted nature of the house. “I don’t think a lot of brokers would trust that kind of disclosure because they can’t prove that ghosts are still out there and they can’t really verify past behavior.” Instead, they must provide a more speculative or qualified disclosure.

Journalists gather outside the house

Reporters gathered outside the Beverly Hills home of Paul Byrne and Jean Harlow as they awaited further news after Byrne’s body was found by his handler.

Bettman//Getty Images

“If the house is listed as a foreclosure and that’s part of the deal, and it’s not actually foreclosure, that’s straight up false advertising or fraud or a misrepresentation of the value and condition of the property,” Goldman says. “There’s a series of legal doctrines that favor the buyer in those situations. That’s one reason brokers can’t claim a home is in distress because they don’t want to put their professional reputation and finances on the back burner. A statement they don’t believe they can prove.”

Tips for sellers and buyers

Real estate description laws are very complex and difficult to navigate for both buyers and sellers, regardless of whether the property is “excluded” or not. We asked Goldman to share his best advice for everyone involved. Here are his five key tips:

  • First of all, especially if you have no real estate experience, it’s best to work with a real estate agent you trust to help you navigate the complex world of transparency laws.
  • The digital age has made it easier for the buyer to find information, so use that to your advantage and Google the address of the property you are considering buying.
  • As a buyer, ask questions about things that are deal-breakers for you. It is impossible for sellers to predict the whole universe of things that are important to buyers, so if you are a buyer, you have to stand up for yourself.
  • As a listing agent or seller, when in doubt, disclose (depending on which situation you’re in!), but only promise what you can deliver.
  • Document all disclosures. “If it’s not in writing, you’re less likely to get results, everything has to be documented,” says Goldman.

Interested in hearing more in-depth ghost stories about the characteristics of alienation as well as disclosure tips from Eric Goldman? Listen to Dark House.

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