Thursday, November 12, 2015

The strangest $12 you’ll ever spend

I discovered this website quite by accident the other day while surfing for an innovative blog idea. I think I found it. Did you know that for a onetime fee of $11.99 you can discover if someone has ever died in your house, or one that you’re thinking about buying? I’m not quite sure what I think about that.

Do you really want to know if someone died in your home before you bought it? Would you feel differently about your home if you suddenly discovered that someone had passed away in your child’s bedroom, or yours? What if your home is for sale and an interested party suddenly changed their mind because they discovered that someone died in your home at some time in the past?
This is a difficult topic to form an opinion on. How much information is too much information? 

While some states do require that an interested buyer be informed if someone had passed away in the home it is not required by all states. The same can be said of a home that is thought to be haunted. But what about the effect such information can have when the current owners are attempting to sell the home?

The truth is that the stigma placed on a home after someone has died in it can be long lasting, especially if that person’s death was unusual in some way or the result of murder. It can be quite difficult to sell a home that has become famous or infamous due to its past. Would you buy a home where the entire family was killed in a tragic fire or worse? Some people would not and even if the home can be sold it is often for less money that comparable homes in the same area. This can become quite a headache for the sellers as well as the realtors involved with the sale.

The other side of the coin, of course is the rights of the perspective buyers. In 2007 Janet Milliken moved from California to Pennsylvania with her 2 children after the death of her husband. She paid $610,000 for her new home but later found out that a murder-suicide had occurred there about a year and a half earlier. She and her children were still trying to adjust to the loss of her husband when curious onlookers would stop and gawk at their home during Halloween. 

As this circumstance led to an even more difficult time for her family now living in the home Mrs. Milliken decided to sue for misrepresentation and fraud claiming that the previous owners as well as the real estate agents involved had misled her and should have told her the previous circumstances of the house before she bought it. She lost the case as Pennsylvania does not have laws requiring this type of disclosure and has since appealed to the Supreme Court.

The point I’m trying to make has nothing to do with legalities however; it is more a question of morals, or principal I think. Is it fair to sell a home to someone that is not aware of its morbid past? While most of the time it seems insignificant to most of us some people feel that it is wrong to not tell a buyer the complete history of the home. And what if the resale price of the home is affected in the future? I would imagine that Mrs. Milliken would have a difficult time selling her home to anyone familiar with its background and its current brand of notoriety.

This is a very difficult decision to make because it may be unfair to the buyer to not be told but equally unfair to the seller to bring attention to a home’s past that could affect its market value or ability to sell quickly. In either case if you are curious and would like to know if a death has occurred where you currently live you can visit to find out. But are you sure you really want to know?

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