Legal Hotline: Ghosts

Happy Halloween from your State Legal Eagles.  While the ghosts and goblins are out scooping up candy this time of year, it’s the perfect time to share that common real estate question….. I just listed a property for my seller client. My seller-client informed me that the house is haunted and there are ghosts in one of the bedrooms. Am I required to disclose this?

A.  No, not unless asked. The Stigmatized Property Law states that absent a specific inquiry by a prospective purchaser, there is no duty for the broker to either investigate or affirmatively disclose murders, suicides, allegations of ghosts or other potential stigmas. This is because these stigmas are not actual physical defects with the property. If a consumer does ask, however, the broker or salesperson must answer the question regarding the stigma honestly and to the best of his or her knowledge. If you are representing a buyer, be sure to determine whether or not this is an important issue to your client. If it is, be sure that the question is asked.

As a reminder, REALTOR’S® always have an obligation under Chapter 93A to disclose known physical defects (leaky roof, foundation problems, etc.). The Stigmatized Property Law does not diminish this obligation. Brokers and salespersons should remember that one of the most effective ways to deal with these issues is to ask the seller to complete a Seller’s Description of Property Form and provide all prospective purchasers with a copy of the form.