Disclosure law ??

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by TC2, May 19, 2005.

  1. TC2

    TC2 Active Member

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    Not sure how to phrase that, but I'll explain. DH and I recently
    looked at some land/mobile home. 13.8 timbered acres with a 1995 doublewide on it. Seemed promising, but the land isn't laid out like we thought, and the DW is to small for long term living. If it's still for sale next year, we'll consider it then.
    The ??. The previous owners wife shot herself to death in the master bath. The bullet hole is still in the wall, and by law the realtor has to disclose this. If we did buy this land/home combo, and sold the DW later, would we in turn have to disclose? How far down the sales chain does this law go?
    At $69,000, this is a steal, but the circumstances have kept this place on the market for over 2 years. Would you bother with it? Worth a shot?
    Anyone with experience here?
    Thanks!
     
  2. markcollette

    markcollette Member

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    TC,

    Very interesting topic. Was "worth a shot" a bad pun? Other than that, if you like the land, I would go ahead and purchase it. The doublewide is not the valuable portion of the property and unless you plan to turn it rapidly for resale, I doubt you would get much for the trailer. I don't know about resale of the trailer, but if I was purchasing the property, I would use the DW for a workshop/shed after the house is built. If the bullet holes and circumstances surrounding it don't bother you, go for it. My 2 cents.

    Mark
    Criders, VA
     

  3. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

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    If the price is what you are looking for and you will be happy with it..take it !! You mentioned the lay of the land. Will it work for you or...is the price too good to pass up ?? The death of the women is a sad situation but...I'm for sure that most of our homes someone at sometime died or got killed or something. Just a fact of life..or death I suppose you could say. If you have a church ask the pastor to come and "bless" you new home and that should give you some peace. Sell the double wide and buy or build another home on the site. Just remember this...absent with the body, present with the Lord... and I don't think any "spririts" would do you any harm anyways. Good Luck with your decesion !!
     
  4. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

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    Just another thought on the dead women...If you believe in spirits...I would think that she would be pleased to know that a family would be happy in her home and that would bring her peace. I often think this old farmhouse has a few things strange in it but it doesn't bother me because I really don't believe in ghosts and spooks and I've never hurt anyone and if there is and I am wrong about it I like to think that they are happy that we have made this a homestead again. In fact..our house was used as an old time court house with some terrible background on some of the trials done in this old house. I hope this gives you something to think on. Again...Good Luck !!
     
  5. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    The disclosure is not limited to what you did or what happened while you owned a property. It is intended to include anything that you know about that might effect the value of the property. (Including things like a nuclear power plant is going in next door)

    I was once given a disclosure form that included the questions,

    "Has anyone ever died in the house?"

    and

    "Is the house haunted."

    Based on that, I would guess that you would have to disclose it if you sold.
    Although the idea of selling the mobile and putting something else on it would get you around that, I'm thinking.
     
  6. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    This is a very off-the-cuff opinion. Disclosure law is based upon the concept of "materiality." A fact is "material" if it is one on which a hypothetically reasonable buyer (not an idiosyncratic buyer) to rely in deciding whether or not to purchase the property. So I guess there is room for disagreement as to whether this is a disclosable "defect" to begin with. It depends, largely, upon the question of how much the "heebie geebie" factor would be expected to influence the so-called reasonable buyer. Frankly, I think the prior owner was a little screwy in leaving the bullet hole there and then announcing it to you. By doing so, he created apprehension in you that wouldn't have been there to begin with. You might ask yourself what your legal obligations would be if this same seller had declared that there were ghosts in the house.

    I wouldn't think twice about buying this house if it's otherwise a good deal for you. I'm willing to bet that the case law on disclosure of haunted houses and the like will bear out that you have no obligation to inform subsequent buyers of a "defect" created by mere superstitious fear.

    Edit: Subsequent retraction by author--see following 2 posts
     
  7. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    I stand corrected. Just for fun, I searched the case law throughout the United States looking for something relating to the law of disclosure as it applies to the analogous situation of so-called haunted houses. I found a relatively recent New York case, Stambovsky v. Ackley, in which the purchasers of certain property sought to rescind the sale based upon the fact that the seller had not disclosed the house's reputation for being haunted. The court held in favor of the purchasers.

    So if a New York appeals court sees it this way, I guess you do have something to be concerned about.

    Just in case you're interested in reading the full case, the citation to it is Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254, 527 N.Y.S.2d 627 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991). You can find it at the law library attached to any courthouse.
     
  8. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Even more to the point, I just found a California case, Reed v. King, in which the California Court of Appeals imposed a duty upon the seller of a house to disclose that a mass murder had occurred on the site ten years earlier. The full citation to that case is Reed v. King, 145 Cal. App. 3d 261, 193 Cal. Rptr. 130 (Cal. Ct. App. 1983). Arguably germane to the disposition of that case was the fact that the seller had expressly represented the home as "fit for an elderly lady living alone."

    The holding in Reed v. King was criticized by the New Jersey court in Robinson v. Parillo, - A.2d - , 1999 WL 240735 (Conn. Super. 1999) (unpublished disposition), in which the latter court commented that the merits of these "psychological impact" authorities are "plainly debatable."

    I note, also, that some states have enacted legislation providing guidance regarding the types of non-physical, or stigma-related defects that are material. See, e.g., the Florida Statutes Sec. 689.25.


    Hope that helps.
     
  9. mellba

    mellba Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There is a thread on the family board now called "Ghost in the Country" that kind of fits in with this. Even if it isn't legally required to disclose something like this I would hope someone would if I were the buyer. I don't think I believe in ghosts, but do think places can have good or bad vibes. There is a house in my hometown where a lady was tortured and murdered a few years ago. It is an office now. My sister told me she'd have no problem living there. There is no way I'd live there even for free.
     
  10. TC2

    TC2 Active Member

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    Thanks, y'all!

    We aren't worried a/b ghosts, just the thought of all that unhappiness, ending the way it did. DH and I discussed it, and we'd both feel funny living there. Like we'd always be picturing the scene, and the mess, ect. The image of her emotional sorrow and rage soaking into the walls lingers with me. I know it's irrational, but there you go.

    We both think it is a deterrant to living there, but we agree that we could live on the land, having sold the MH. If it is for sale next year, when we are ready to purchase, we will look and consider again.
    Thanks again for the tips/advice!
     
  11. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    When you sell the property you have the legal obligation to disclose any DEFECT in the home. I do not classify suicide as a defect. I see no reason to disclose this information - although if you go through a REALTOR in the area, chances are they are aware of the situation and might tell potential buyers about it unless you tell them not to. Even then, they may feel some ethical or moral need to tell them.

    I don't see any reason not to buy it if it is a good deal. Once people have lived there most likely the legend will fade. And who knows, you might have a ghost running around to liven things up.

    donsgal
     
  12. Old John

    Old John Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Y'all,

    In the other house, I owned before moving out to the Country,
    We had a couple of "spirits" that some of us would see on occasion.
    One was an old man, in overalls & a shirt w/ an old style collar.
    Sometimes he'd have a jacket or coat. He would just walk through
    the house as if it weren't there, like he was walking across the land.
    He'd go right through the walls, usually in a N.Westerly direction.

    We found out he was an old Farmer, that once owned all the farmland
    out on that side of the City, before it was built up. I and a couple
    others could see him, sometimes. It seemed to depend on the weather
    & what was happening in the house & neighborhood.

    The other was the old grandmother of my last exwife. She always
    came one way or the other, right down the hall. She always had a
    cuppa coffee in one hand & a cigarette in the other, in a washed out
    pink chenille house-coat & those old blue fluffy slippers, "mules" I think.
    Several Folks saw her. Some could smell cigarette smoke, too.

    When I separated from the good ole exwife. old grandmom left, after
    a short while. Funny thing exwife could not see her, the spirit, that is.

    Did I disclose about them? Nope. I did not even think of it.
    Besides it was only the odd Folk, that'd see them once in awhile.

    Remind me to tell y'all about the "wall-runners" that can be seen,
    once in awhile, when the evening is just right, & the right Folks are
    around. I'm not sure what they are. Not everyone can see them either.
    Interesting story, some time.
    Have Fun.