It should have been a great moment in the buyer’s life: getting the keys to their their first house. The sellers had done a great job of cleaning and were just finishing up. Some minor casual conversation in the kitchen led the seller’s mother to say to her son, “Did you tell him about the serial killer that used to live here?” Ooo, this is going to be awkward.
What followed was a brief exchange between the two of them with us standing there where the seller said he had no idea what she was talking about while she insisted he did. It just died into uncomfortable silence.
Once the seller had left, the buyer and I talked about it. In Oregon, facts about the house that are not material to the physical condition of the house are considered nondisclosure items. That includes any manner of death that may have occurred in the house- natural or otherwise. In this case it is not thought that the actual murders took place in the house but that the killer lived there. It was confirmed by both my managing broker and the listing agent’s broker that it did not have to be disclosed. I believe the buyer called a real estate attorney to verify as well.
The seller’s mother opened a can of worms that didn’t need to be opened. There is nothing to be done about it. The neighbors were only too happy to confirm the story and the buyers would have found out eventually but it should not have been in that manner with the seller denying the fact. In California, the laws are different and it would have been a disclosure item in all likelihood.
Should it have been a disclosure issue?