Deaths, Crimes and External Conditions and Real Estate

Last week I wrote about the Oregon Home Buyer’s Advisory and the section on Sewers & Septic Tanks.  There are over a dozen buyer due diligence items in the Advisory so it makes sense to go through all of them in the next few weeks.  Today: “Death, Crimes and External Conditions:”

In Oregon, certain social conditions that may be of concern to buyers are considered not to be “material” by state law. Oregon Revised Statutes 93.275. Ordinarily, “material facts” must be disclosed by the seller or the seller’s agent. Because state law declares certain facts that may be important to a buyer to be not material, buyers cannot rely on the seller disclosing this kind of information. Buyers should undertake their own investigation if concerned that the property or a neighboring property has been the site of a death, crime, political activity, religious activity, or any other act or occurrence that does not adversely affect the physical condition of, or title to, real property, including that a convicted sex offender resides in the area. Concerned buyers can contact their local police for more information. Websites for Oregon counties can be found at: http://www.aocweb.org/Cnty-links-frm.htm. Websites for cities can be found at: http://www.orcities.org/cityinfo/cityWebSites.cfm. Some large cities (e.g., Portland) publish crime maps (e.g., www.portlandmaps.com) on their website. Information about registered sex offenders can be found by visiting http://egov.oregon.gov/DOC/faqs.shtml. Buyers concerned that neighborhood properties may have been used for illegal drug manufacture can visit http://www.oregonbcd.org/druglabs/druglabs.html, the website of the Building Codes Division, for more information. Information on Oregon’s Drug Lab Clean Up Program and meth labs can be found at: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/publichealth/druglab/methlab.cfm. ***Note- published link is broken.  Try this: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/druglab/. Under Oregon law, neither the seller nor their agent is allowed to disclose that an owner or occupant of the real property has or had human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

It’s a question of what is important to the buyer?  If you know that one of the scenarios would alter your decision to buy you should investigate.  We’ve seem tragedy in homes over the years; some natural, some accidental and some criminal but none of the events were considered something that the seller had to disclose as they are not material to the property.  In some cases, the seller did disclose simply because you really can’t get in trouble for over-disclosing.

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