Does Death in a Home have to be Disclosed?

By
Real Estate Agent with Regent Property Group 0480809

Does a death or suicide need to be disclosed by a seller or a listing agent? I haven't been asked many times over the years, but it comes up every so often.  What's Texas law?

Texas law states, in summary, that disclosure is only needed if the house caused the death. What does that mean? The biggest example always used is say a house was a known drug house. Someone got mad and did a drive-by shooting and someone died. Upon resale, the death would need to be disclosed because if word does not spread around the drug community that the house had been sold, the new owners might be at risk.

An example of where murder does not have to be disclosed is if there was a home invasion and the robbers tragically murdered the home owners. It could have been any house, so the house wouldn't remain in harms way.

Suicides and death by natural causes are not caused by the house and also do not have to be disclosed.

When I was 12, I lived in a haunted house. The little old lady slipped in the bathtub and drowned. This was not disclosed, not because we were just renting, but because it was an accident. The house didn't cause the death. When the agent was questioned, her response was, "That's Florence. She's really very nice, but just doesn't like when there are a lot of kids around." She would turn lights on in the master bedroom. She would move candles and turn pictures around. You would feel a gust of wind slamming a door after friends would leave.

Legally, Florence did not need to be disclosed and she wasn't... until asked. That's where there is a fine line. If an agent knows there was a death, murder, or suicide in a home that legally doesn't have to be disclosed, it must be disclosed if/when asked. As a licensed real estate agent, we cannot lie to a direct question like that.

Many people say it's best to disclose before the buyers find out from a neighbor. Possibly. I think it's a case by case situation. If there was huge news coverage and a known fact to the general public what happened, maybe it's best to advise the sellers to disclose. If it was something years ago and no one really pays attention, what's the point in mentioning it? Many people in older homes like to die peacefully in their own homes, and it would be ridiculous to have to disclose every natural cause death.

If you feel information like that would make you object to a house, I suggest you ask if the box on the seller's disclosure notice is marked as no.  A listing agent cannot volunteer this information without explicit instructions by their seller or they could be considered hindering the sale and reveling confidential information.

**Are You Packed Yet?** 

donna harris Realtor Austin TX blog

Donna Harris, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Austin Skyline
www.DonnaHomes.coma
Donna@DonnaHomes.com

Austin TX Real Estate and the surrounding areas of Lakeway, Bee Cave, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Spicewood, Circle-C, Steiner Ranch, and everywhere in between... Hill Country Austin TX Real Estate and beyond. Whether you're buying or selling an Austin home, I'll be with you every step of the way. 

For real time Austin TX listings, click here.

** #1 Agent in my Office for all of 2008 **

Copyright© 2010 By Donna Harris, All Rights Reserved. You may re-blog with links back to this post.
* Does Death in a Home have to be Disclosed? * was first published on donnahomesblog.com

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the cat to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Topic:
Real Estate General Information
Location:
Texas Travis County
Groups:
All Thing's Texas
Austin Metro Area
Posts to Localism
Realtors®
Texas Real Estate
Tags:
texas real estate death
austin tx real estate
travis county real estate

Comments 60 New Comment

Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the folder to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Rainmaker
1,080,090
Bryant Tutas
Broker/REALTOR, Tutas Towne Realty, Inc
Bryant Tutas-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc

Donna, I completely agree with your last comment. There another post featured today about disclose or not disclose and of course many agents are in there saying "disclose, disclose, disclose!" I truly don't get that way of thinking.

What if.....my seller was dieing of cancer and wanted to sell her house so she could spend the last months of her life traveling. This certainly affects the value of the property. But I doubt anyone would agree that this needs to be disclosed. I don't see how this is any different than a house with a murder, suicide or other crime.

As long as it's legal it's the sellers choice and only the sellers choice whether or not to disclose. It's not a gray area.

If agents don't understand this stuff the consumer doesn't have a chance in hell of getting a fair shake.

 

September 20, 2010 05:00 PM
Rainmaker
1,358,980
Donna Harris
Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin
Regent Property Group

Bryant, That's what I was trying to stress, but many people don't get it. Yes, we're taught to disclose, disclose, disclose, but that's for the things we're supposed to disclose, not the things that we're not supposed to!

September 20, 2010 08:26 PM
Ambassador
1,070,182
Bryan Robertson
Innovator, Writer, Speaker
Catarra Real Estate, Inc

Hi Donna - In our state we have to disclose any in the past three years.  However, the attorneys I know all say the same thing, if a seller has knowledge of something that COULD materially affect the value of the property, they MUST disclose it.  So, even if the death was further back that the law requires, a buyer might have a case is the seller withheld a fact.

In those cases, I'll recommend disclosure but I won't do it myself.  It isn't up to me to do it.  So, I'm agreeing with you that we shouldn't disclose information we're not privy to but it is important to remind our clients of the consequences if they knowingly hid something.

September 21, 2010 02:32 AM
Rainmaker
258,618
Bill Travis
Broker/Owner
Captain Bill Realty, LLC

In AZ, deaths and homicides to not have to be disclosed.

September 23, 2010 10:46 AM
Rainmaker
306,326
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996
LONG REALTY

Regarding the proximity of a graveyard, some cultures have traditions that prohibit nearness to a graveyard. I think I was told that if the graveyard was visible from the property, regardless of distance, that was too close.

October 31, 2010 02:09 AM
Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the umbrella to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Rainmaker
1,358,980

Donna Harris

Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin
Are you Packed for Austin? I can help!!
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the cat to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Additional Information

This blog is to help educate Buyers, Sellers and even other Realtors across the country.  Each market is different and the way Real Estate is done is different.  Austin Real Estate is completely different than Dallas, California and Florida and everywhere else in between.  Some times there will be other things besides real estate as I like to rant and rave as much as the next!!  Come back often!

Donna Harris, REALTOR® with RE/MAX
Donna Harris, REALTOR® with RE/MAX
Promote Your Page Too

Homes For Sale Austin, Texas Real Estate: Donna Harris's Luxury Real Estate & Condo Top 10 List!

Texas Yellow Pages
blogarama - the blog directory