Friday, February 19, 2010

Do you live in a Murder House?

Well, you probably wouldn't know if you did, as it happens.

I stumbled across an interesting discussion on a consumer law website, talking about whether the seller of a house is obliged to tell the buyer that a murder has been committed in the house. The discussion came about because a pair of new homeowners found out about the murder in their home right after buying the house, and they weren't happy.

Believe it or not, many state statutes actually address the issue directly, though our own in Texas sidesteps it. Here's what it says:
(c) A seller or seller's agent shall have no duty to make a disclosure or release information related to whether a death by natural causes, suicide, or accident unrelated to the condition of the property occurred on the property or whether a previous occupant had, may have had, has, or may have AIDS, HIV related illnesses, or HIV infection.

I thought it interesting the statute doesn't even mention murder. Why suicide and not murder? Are the ghosts different? Seems like as long as any bio-hazards are taken care of, they'd be psychically the same. Talking of psychically, here's the Massachew... Massechus... Massitch... law from the Kennedy state, stating that the following things do not have to be disclosed:

(a) [the HIV thing, like Texas]

(b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide [they mention the H word!]; and

(c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.

Right. Ghosts. They have legislation to say you don't have to reveal the presence of something that doesn't exist. Hopefully this year they will amend to make sure sellers don't have to disclose Yeti sightings in the backyard, or the time Aunt Edna was "borrowed" for the night by aliens.

But back to the murder thing, I was wondering, would you care if a murder had been committed in your house? Would it have stopped you from buying the place? If nothing else, it seems like a good negotiating tool, if you know in advance, eh?


  1. I wouldn't want a house that was too notorious (like the Routier house in Rowlett or the Cullen Davis house in Fort Worth), just because I wouldn't my house to lure the curious.

    And also, if the builder just moved the headstones and not the bodies from the graveyard he's building the development on, I hear that can cause problems.

    But other than that, I don't think I'd care.

  2. I think Texas did pass a law that said you have to be notified if you buy a house formerly used as a meth lab, though they did so about 15 years after I bought a house in central east Austin which we now believe had exactly such a history.

  3. Would I want to know? Yeah, probably. Okay, yes, for sure!

    And I'd also want to know if the house has been a meth lab. I see that Kennedy state doesn't force sellers to disclose that, either. *boggles* Cuz unless I lost my mind, I'm pretty sure the manufacturing of meth would be a big old felony!

  4. A friend from San Francisco tells me that houses with deaths in them are a big deal. A lot of people don't want to live in them. If you're a buyer who doesn't care, you just might get a call from an excited real estate agent about the great murder-suicide property he just found you!

  5. I would want to know. And I would not knowingly buy a murder house. I've always felt this way. But having my brother murdered in his home just blocks from my home just makes it worse. Never would I buy that home or one like it.
    Nor would I buy a meth home or a haunted one "if ghosts were real".


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