Are Ghosts & Goblins accompanying you at showings? Do you have to introduce them to prospective buyers? The Stigmatized Property law under Chapter 93A addresses this matter, as well as other property “stigma issues.”
You just listed a property and after meeting with the seller several times, the seller suddenly mentions that the property was the scene of a suicide during the time it was owned by the previous owners. Are you required to disclose this to potential buyers? Or, there was a murder on the property? Or, that those pesky ghosts are acting up during this Halloween Season?
What disclosures are required to be made to buyers is a common question, but when it comes to tragic events such as suicides or homicides which may have occurred at a particular listing, the law gives REALTORS® the guidance needed to response to these issues. A section of Chapter 93A, known as the stigmatized property law, provides the answer to these types of questions: absent specific inquiry about the incident by the prospective purchaser, there is no duty for the broker to either investigate or affirmatively disclose murders, suicides, allegations of ghosts [paranormal activity] or other potential stigmas. If a consumer does ask, however, the broker or salesperson must answer the question regarding the stigma honestly and to the best of their knowledge, or if the seller instructs the broker to affirmatively disclose this type of matter to all potential buyers, the broker must do so as following all lawful instructions of the client is the broker’s duty.
The stigmatized property law does not mean that a REALTOR’S® obligation under Chapter 93A to disclose known physical defects (leaky roof, foundation problems, etc.) found on the premises is diminished in any way. 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 Real Estate Information Statement or a Seller’s Description of Property Form, provide all prospective purchasers with a copy of the form, and require any potential buyer to acknowledge in writing receipt of the form by returning it with an offer, if they so choose to write an offer.