"Why, yes. Funny you should ask, but dear Aunt Sarah did pass away in the master bedroom earlier this year."

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Select

Or, worse yet, from the next door neighbor welcoming the new couple," It was such a shame when they found Mr. Smith in the basement last fall. He was such a quiet man."

While death is a natural end to the cycle of life, how does the news of a prior death within a now listed property affect the resale today?  I pose this question because upon listing a home, my office has a question on our property disclosure that addresses this issue.

I have asked the question to many buyers if they would find a death on the property bothersome to the point of choosing not to pursue a purchase of that home.  My informal findings were basically related to age of the buyer answering the question.  Older buyers are less bothered, but only if the death was natural.  Younger buyers range from, "Don't tell me, I don't want to know" to "No, I would not purchase a home where I know there was any type of death."  Most buyers answered they would not consider a purchase where there had been a suicide or other violent death.

With the onset of more and more of our sick and elderly choosing to die at home in peace and with dignity, how has this trend affected real estate price and resale? Do other areas disclose death in the home, both natural and tragic?

Personally, I have experienced an at home death in my immediate family, and was grateful hospitalization was not involved.  And, I have purchased a home where I was told that a natural death of the elderly owner occurred.  On the other hand, a few years ago, I backed away from the purchase of a home where the seller informed me while standing in the basement that her son had committed suicide in the very spot where we stood.

With the multitude of foreclosed homes without owners to inquire of onsite deaths, are agents exposed to issues of buyer agency neglect? If buyers find the issue of death within a property uncomfortable, should they make this fact known to their agent?  Most buyers truly haven't considered the possibilty, but their preference may make a difference if asked.

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Rainmaker
652,246
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
Benjamin Realty LLC

For some buyers this might be a bit spooky - but others not so much.

May 29, 2009 10:35 PM
Rainer
70,659
Teresa Cox King
Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, Mobile
RE/MAX Select

Bob and Carolin- Yes, some buyers may be bothered while others may not.  My thought is what happens when a neighbor is the one to spill the beans after a couple moves in who didn't know the info before.  We live in a WalMart society where connsumers are spoiled by if you find something wrong, just return it and get your money back. 

May 29, 2009 10:42 PM
Rainer
120,835
Michael Cole
CPG Tours

Hi Teresa,

Interesting topic. I guess I would have kind of mixed feelings about it, if i was buying. I believe in CA you don't have to disclose if it's been more than three years, unless the buyer directly asks. But I could be wrong about that. I know some listing agents though that routinely ask when doing the property disclosure statement. Probably for liability reasons.

May 30, 2009 08:31 AM
Rainer
70,659
Teresa Cox King
Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, Mobile
RE/MAX Select

Michael- I do run into this from time to time, and wondered what other agents across the US had experienced with it as well.  Do you think it affects resale, and how so, price? Length of time on market, etc?

May 30, 2009 08:57 AM
Rainmaker
222,486
Brian Brumpton
Boise Idaho Real Estate
Keller Williams Boise

Teresa,

I was wondering about this recently.  There was an REO that sold recently in our neighborhood where the previous owner had died.  We're not required to disclose it but as soon as the new owners move in sure enough one of the neighbors will tell them. 

I wonder if it isn't fair not to be given the choice.  I would have backed away from the purchase the same as you in that instance.

May 30, 2009 08:36 PM
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Rainer
70,659

Teresa Cox King

Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, Mobile
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