The usual stress of selling your home can easily be compounded when making routine disclosures. But leaky pipes, termite damage, and sketchy wiring are fairly straightforward compared to wrestling with major stigma. Knowing that your house was a murder location, major crime hub, or even haunted, then there may be no limit to your anxiety. Thankfully your real estate agent is trained on exactly what your legal and ethical disclosure requirements are, to sell your haunted house.
Stigmatized property is affected by events that may have happened in the home that some people may find socially unpleasant. However, in each instance the underlying physical condition is not materially diminished, and neither should the value of the home. This is not just an opinion, it is supported by statute.(Code of Virginia § 55-524)
Criminal Stigma: The property was used for as a crime hub, such as gambling, prostitution, or drug distribution. This is separate to the manufacture of methamphetamine and subject to its own disclosure.
Debt Stigma: Indebtedness and the subsequent collection attempts by creditors can impact the lives of future owners. Harassment through collector house calls to ascertain the whereabouts of debtors can be pervasive and unsettling.
Murder / Suicide Stigma: Grisly deaths may require not only extensive physical cleanup, but the neighbors and community may find this disturbing.
Phenomena Stigma: Haunting, ghosts, or other paranormal activities. Some households invest heavily in Halloween decoration, but others feel the unwelcome presence of spirits.
The listing agent; representing the seller, is required to communicate material facts about the condition of the property that were disclosed by the seller. The agents responsibility does not end there, as they are expected to use common sense and discretion when observing the property and question the seller and pass on to the buyer any red flag items that may warrant further investigation.
They are not expected to investigate with the aim of uncovering hidden latent defects that a property inspection may potentially uncover.
Your selling agent must not disclose stigmas allegedly associated with your house sale. As your fiduciary, they are by definition ethically bound and legally required to act in your best interest. Any unlawful disclosure is a breach of your trust and the agency agreement.
Stigma can arguably be defined as mythical or an otherwise temporary psychological association. They simply do not materially impact the structure of the building. Similarly, demographics and personal medical records of the home seller are equally irrelevant to the market value of real estate, and must not be disclosed or utilized in any discriminatory way.
By simply doing their job, your realtor can save you the stress of sharing any perceived stigma associated with your property, whatever you think that may be. This is the legal and ethical way to remove this factor from negotiating the very best price for your home when selling your house. So this Halloween, or any time, list your home for sale with confidence that you are legally protected from stigmatized discrimination.