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Disclosing a death prior to selling

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Justin da Rosa | 25 Jul 2016, 08:15 AM Agree 0
Are agents required to disclose prior death within a property? One real estate legal expert has the answer
  • Mary | 25 Jul 2016, 10:38 AM Agree 0
    Justin, can you please advise if this is across Canada, or just in the BC area? I was under the impression that it is required and we would be liable if we don't disclose such facts!

    =
  • Paul | 25 Jul 2016, 10:40 AM Agree 0
    I agree for murder or suicide. What about natural death? Do u have to disclose?
  • Amanda Xie | 25 Jul 2016, 10:57 AM Agree 0
    I am under the impression that as listing agent, we must disclose these questions if asked by a buyer.. specially for POA sale, buyer often asks if the seller actually died in the property. I don't see the harm to disclose this outright, I don't feel right not to disclose it. I am licensed in Ontario, I think there was a case study where lead us to disclose these type of situation?
  • carol | 25 Jul 2016, 11:02 AM Agree 0
    By suicide or murder definitely. I see no upside in not disclosing. Usually the neighbours know and will inform the buyers. Also it could hold up the eventual sale if the buyer finds out before closing causing delays and further expenses to both parties.
  • Joanne Wilson | 25 Jul 2016, 11:06 AM Agree 1
    I believe disclosure is key. In Ottawa we disclose at time of offer if there was a murder or suicide at the property. Agents usually ask if it is an Estate sale. Certain cultures also want to know even if it was by natural causes. Not worth hiding anything if you want the sale to close.
  • Akash Bedi | 25 Jul 2016, 11:15 AM Agree 0
    I agree with Joanne, in small communities/ cities like Winnipeg word travels fast and its better that a buyer/client hears of this from the professionals rather than neighbors or residents of the area as it creates alot of mistrust and resentment. Of course if you are directed by the vendor NOT to disclose, then you are under orders.
  • Sabina | 25 Jul 2016, 11:16 AM Agree 0
    In the sellers declaration form there is a question
    "To your knowledge has there ever been a suicide or violent death in the immovable?"

    If you know & don't answer it you are withholding vital information.
  • | 25 Jul 2016, 11:21 AM Agree 0
    I fully agree with you. As an agent If we know something and if the seller doesn't disclose I wouldn't feel right not to divulge the info; I like to rest in peace & not have to worry they found out something I knew & didn't divulge.
  • ALY BUCKINGHAM. | 25 Jul 2016, 11:45 AM Agree 0
    Absolutely! Disclose ANYTHING that could have an impact on the buyer, or the buyers perception/decision to buy. It's not up to the agent to decide what is important or not!

    Keep clean and remember the motto. "disclose. Disclose. Disclose". Sleep better at night and stay out of court - regardless what province you are in (or even what some "lawyers" advise!)

    Just plain old fashioned common sense folks! Treat people how you would like to be treated.
  • Scott Simmons | 25 Jul 2016, 12:24 PM Agree 0
    The real answer is NO one does not have to disclose because it not a defect. In BC on the coast may of our homes are build on major battle sites where 100 or more first nations were killed by other first nations tribes. For those who think one should disclose how far back would you think we should go in disclosing? What if you sold homes in London UK a city that has been burned to the ground and pillaged.

    Disclosure is about defects not the supernatural.
  • Belinda Marie Lelli | 25 Jul 2016, 01:08 PM Agree 0
    I am a Toronto agent. The Co-operating Broker agent includes the standard clause stipulating acknowledgment re: death, suicide etc., in the agreement of purchase and sale 9 times out of 10. It is par for the course. In addition, the average consumer googles an address and is privy to any and all activity surrounding a property. Disclosure in proactive and the only way to proceed as far as I am concerned.
  • | 25 Jul 2016, 01:10 PM Agree 0
    I don't see why one acting for a Buyer or a Seller would not want to disclose any situation or history that would have a negative consequence in future. I would say it's wrong to hide facts that are bound to come up on or before closing.
    Abbas
  • | 25 Jul 2016, 01:12 PM Agree 0
    Legal verses Ethical. My understanding is, in Ontario you must disclose anything that may reasonably affect the buyers decision to purchase the home and not just a "latent defects". It is reasonable to assume that for many it would be unsettling to purchase a home where a death occurred, especially if by suicide or murder - knowing this fact it then follows it should be disclosed. Legally, a seller is under no obligation to disclose a death occurred in the home, ethically a real estate salesperson is.
  • Frank C. | 25 Jul 2016, 01:12 PM Agree 1
    We must keep in mind that there is indeed an obligation to disclose latent defects to buyers. In some situations it may even be prudent to disclose patent defects. But to suggest that we have an obligation to disclose all the possible stigmas that may exist, and that may be troublesome to some people is in my opinion ludicrous and just plain silly. Unless you are specifically asked about a particular stigma, and depending on the type of representation, and unless you have been provided with a written direction by the seller to disclose, you have no obligation to do so!

    Cultural differences aside there is nothing that gets my blood boiling more than the question as to whether or not anybody died in the house. How should one answer such stupid questions? Is there a more natural place than to die in your own home? I would hope that most people here agree that this is preferable than being found in an alleyway, or perishing away in some cold hallway of a local hospital! And why is there such preoccupation with death. How about wanting to know if the house was ever occupied by racists, criminals, abusers, etc. etc.? For me the key quote is:

    "To allow defects to be determined by individual preferences would open the floodgates of litigation by remorseful purchasers and create an impossible standard of disclosure for vendors."

    Let's be reasonable folks. There are heinous crimes that need to be disclosed no questions asked,, and notwithstanding your obligation to act in the best interest of your client there may indeed be times when it is also probably wise to disclose.

    Have a great summer!
  • Linda Noseworthy | 25 Jul 2016, 01:18 PM Agree 0
    I'm a realtor in quebec and we do have to disclose if there is a murder or suicide, but not if by natural causes.
  • Bill Johnston | 25 Jul 2016, 01:55 PM Agree 0
    In Ontario Section 21 of our Code requires us to discover and disclose anything that might influence a reasonable buyer's decision to buy a property. Certainly, murders, suicides or deaths by misadventure (e.g. drowning) qualify as issues that could matter to many buyers. My advice is to err on the side of disclosure. Better the prospective buyer finds out prior to making an offer than finding out from the neighbour four days after closing. That's when "We're having a lawsuit and everyone's invited!" comes into play. As for deaths by natural causes, I would place the burden on the buyer to raise the issue. Some cultures care more about that issue than others.
    Bill Johnston, M.A., LL.B.
    Manager & Legal Counsel
    Bosley Real Estate
  • judy | 25 Jul 2016, 02:55 PM Agree 0
    Many years ago, my husband and I(in our mid-20's) were shopping for a home for the young family we were starting. Location, size and price were very important to us. We had just met our realtor that morning and had to buy that day, he drove us past a home that would have worked nicely, but told us he did not have it on our list, because it had had 2 different owners commit suicide in it. He would make an appt. if we were still interested.
    I heard my young husband gasp, and thank him from the front seat. My bother-in-law who had been living with him when he was single, had committed suicide by gun just 5 years before and he had found his brother and had to sit with him for some time, notify the family, and later clean the apartment. He has lived with PTSD every since and so have all of us.
    For my husband to have found out the history of the house after closing, and given the stressors PTSD and of keeping a roof over our heads in the early 80's with the mortgage crisis - it is very likely we would have lost him in that same house too.
    We have to be sensitive as realtors, we don't know our buyer's personal beliefs or histories.....
  • | 25 Jul 2016, 03:35 PM Agree 0
    I truly am a very sensitive person but this is totally ridiculous from my point of view , and i am asking the question that if someone dies in a house ,what is the fate of that house ,DEMOLITION ? if that.s the case all hospitals should be torn down each time someone dies ;Its only a natural phenomena that happens to all people ,so what is an owner suppose to do when he /she feels their time is here and now go to the garden to die ,usually people would use this excuse to get a better price on the house
  • peter kyriacou | 25 Jul 2016, 03:36 PM Agree 0
    I truly am a very sensitive person but this is totally ridiculous from my point of view , and i am asking the question that if someone dies in a house ,what is the fate of that house ,DEMOLITION ? if that.s the case all hospitals should be torn down each time someone dies ;Its only a natural phenomena that happens to all people ,so what is an owner suppose to do when he /she feels their time is here and now go to the garden to die ,usually people would use this excuse to get a better price on the house
  • Navtaj | 25 Jul 2016, 04:18 PM Agree 0
    We celebrate Halloween in Canada, and most of us will NEVER buy a house knowing that there was a dead body in master bedroom. A death at a property by murder, natural causes, accident or suicide will keep most of the buyers even looking at it,Forget about buying and living in it.Learn more about stigmatized properties in Canada at www.Flipping$profit.ca An average Canadian family will never buy a stigmatized property in Canada.
  • Navtaj | 25 Jul 2016, 04:19 PM Agree 0
    We celebrate Halloween in Canada, and most of us will NEVER buy a house knowing that there was a dead body in master bedroom. A death at a property by murder, natural causes, accident or suicide will keep most of the buyers even looking at it,Forget about buying and living in it.Learn more about stigmatized properties in Canada at www.Flipping$profit.ca An average Canadian family will never buy a stigmatized property in Canada.
  • P. Fusco | 25 Jul 2016, 04:52 PM Agree 0
    If I were to know of a death in the house and a buyer was to ask I would tell him/ her what I know. Most often this is not something that is discussed at the listing appointment.
    How would an agent know of a death in the house if there have been numerous of owners? It's silly to think that agents must disclose everything. Has it ever occurred to you that sometimes agents don't and cant know everything.
    How would an agent know of a person dying in the house having a heart attack! but the report said that the individual was pronounced dead at the hospital! Ok but exactly where did the patient die? at the house? in the ambulance? or at the hospital?
  • David | 27 Jul 2016, 07:12 AM Agree 0
    This BC instructor's response is just another indicator of how poorly real estate consumers are protected under BC law. If I am buying property I want to make an informed decision to buy. That means I need all the facts. I make the decision wether some aspect of the property/transaction is material/important...not the seller, not the listing rep, not the buying rep, ME, the buyer.

    Another reason why consumers are running in droves to the Internet to seek information about properties on which sellers/realtors are withholding information .if I can find more truthful information online, why do I need a realtor.
    If the industry can show more integrity than is shown in this line of discussion, the industry should cease to exist.
  • Susan G | 29 Jul 2016, 06:51 AM Agree 0
    Good points! Like how you linked that quote back it.
    Just to add to your comment for others...
    There is a huge trend whereby more are choosing to die in their homes. Extra support services are even provided. So we will see more of it.
    After all where would you want to die? Our home is the place we feel most comfortable and safe.
    So if it is happening so often and the trend is increasing dramatically then it is the new norm. Impossible to keep up with.
  • | 31 Jul 2016, 02:34 PM Agree 0
    I believe suicide and murder should be disclosed. Privacy is one think but quality of life in the home could be affected. I would not take a listing unless the seller was willing to disclose. Not on PDS but prior to a party wanting to write an offer. In all my years . I have never had someone ask about a death in a home , was that because it did'nt matte? not necessarily.
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