– Daniel Jacuzzi – President, Select Group
State laws and proper ethics require sellers and Realtors® to disclose certain facets of a listing to potential buyers. Disclosures need to include the physical condition of the property, limitations on use of the property, zoning, etc., etc. These “material facts” must be disclosed before a deal can close. In some states though, disclosure laws will also state that other factors need to be recognized, like a death on the property.
For California, a death disclosure is required. It must be revealed if a death occurred within the last three years (AIDS-related deaths excluded). If the status is inquired beyond the three years, then the seller or Realtor® is required to provide a truthful answer. The law is a bit different for the state of Nevada. A death disclosure does not count as “material facts” and so there is no liability for failing to disclose if the property had been privy to a homicide, suicide, or death except when a death was due to the property’s condition. However, the question to ask is “Will your clients be happy if they learn about a death on the property after closing of escrow.”
The basic rule is “When in doubt, disclose.” A Buyer has the right to know and should be informed of anything that would affect the “Value or Desirability of the property.” In our opinion, this would include a homicide, suicide, or etc. that occurred on the property, and a seller should disclose this information to a Buyer.
When in doubt, it is always best for all involved parties to disclose any information relating to the property. Abiding by NAR’s Code of Ethics is a Realtor’s® number one obligation and providing information upfront to a buyer is always the best option.