Monday, November 26, 2012

One More Post on Real Estate and Violent Death

A response to my two previous posts on real estate and violent deaths from thoughtful reader Kristian Gravenor:

Nice post, good topic, but I think you're greatly overestimating the issue.

People die in every pre-owned house in a lot of ways. It has no bearing on what happens when you live there.

In the USA there's a hodgepodge of laws from state to state concerning disclosure but I've never found a case in the files of a lawsuit asking for material damages from such a failure to disclose in Kweebeck.

Unless there was a Jim Jones-type body count inside the house I wouldn't be bothered a tiny bit by what happened before.

Yes, but there's a difference between people dying in houses and people dying violently in houses. I learned this lesson first hand a few years ago when I was given the responsibility of selling a home in which the owner had just taken his own life. In this case, the death was not violent, as these things go, but it was an unnatural death. The police and an ambulance were involved. All the neighbors knew what had happened.That raised the potential for neighborhood gossp and conjecture.

It was an interesting experience. The house was fully furnished but quite empty. People had what can only be described as "spidey senses". You could see them trying to put the story of this house together as they walked through. They knew something was a bit off about it.

If I sensed that there was an interest in making an offer, I would sit down and explain the situation. It was amazing the number of times people told me intimate stories of their own experiences with suicide - friends, family members, their struggles with dark thoughts. These are not the kinds of stories you tell complete strangers. Or maybe they are.

The first people who wanted to make an offer on the house were a Vietnamese family, elderly parents, young professional kids. As soon as they heard about the suicide, they said sorry, no thanks. Here's the thing, and it speaks to the point you raise, Kristian. They would not have been bothered by a death in the house. Had an old person died quietly in the house after a long, good life, that would have been auspicious. A violent death was not negotiable.

It took a while, but I sold the house to a family from Iran. The woman with whom I was negotiating had a cousin who took her own life in her early 20s. She had thought long and hard about what makes people kill themselves. Her only question before buying the house was whether kids in the local school yard were going to pick on her son or refuse to play at their house because of that event. I told her I didn't think they would. She bought a good house in a good neighborhood at a good price.

As for whether people go to court over the failure to disclose, you may be right, though I wonder how you would even check such a thing. The other option is that the parties settle out of court most times because if there's been a violent death and the broker hasn't disclosed, the buyer would win, hands down.

So there, you go, Kristian. Thanks for writing. You keep me on my toes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, in an effort to cut down on spam, I will now be moderating comments prior to publication. If you're a real person with a real comment or question, I'll get to you as soon as I can. Thanks!