When selling a duplex, owners and the Realtors representing them are required to disclosure to potential buyers any “material facts” which may adversely impact their use and enjoyment of the property.
For example, if the roof leaks on Thursdays, the seller or the duplex is right on the path of a proposed new highway off ramp, the seller and or the agent is required to say something (unless both the buyer and seller agree to waive the requirement to do so).
So are deaths and ghosts material facts?
It depends on where you live.
In Minnesota, for example, sellers are required to disclose the existence of cemeteries or buried human remains on a property. This, of course, would be extremely uncommon in the city.
However, Minnesota duplex sellers are not required to disclose if a murder, suicide or death took place in the property.
In California, on the other hand, duplex are not required to disclose any death that happened more than three years prior, but are required to whether a death has occurred in the last three years if the buyer asks.
As a seller it’s important to know that disclosing a death, murder, suicide or a perceived haunting may increase market time by up to 50 percent and decrease value by as much as 35 percent.
However, in some instances, disclosing the presence of a ghost may enhance the appeal of a property in some buyers eyes.
I personally have been faced with the decision whether or not to disclose a death on a property. Within 24 hours of buying my first investment property, one of the tenants committed suicide. And while I was not required to disclose this information when I sold the property years later, I believed it was the right thing to do.
And the buyer wasn’t bothered a bit. After all, once any duplex or house gets to be a certain age, it’s more likely someon someone died there of natural causes.
There’s simply no one left alive to ask.