Haunted Real Estate Blog by Mary Pope-Handy mary@popehandy.com

The Law & Disclosure

State-By-State: What’s The Law on Disclosing Stigmatized Properties? 

I will make every effort to provide accurate information regarding the various states and their requirements regarding the disclosure of ghosts and other stigmas. That said, laws change so please check with your own area experts (Realtors and Real Estate Attorneys) and rely on them, not this website! 

This is a fascinating and well-annoted article on what is the law now and where it’s going (away from “Buyer Beware” and much more toward the obligation to disclose). Many references to state laws regarding this – those of you doing research will find this most helpful.
Stigma Busters, A Primer on Selling Haunted Houses and Other Stigmatized Property 
MASSACHUSETTES: If you don’t ask, you might not find out in the Commonwealth of Massachusettes.
Mass: Only Disclose Stigmas If Asked 
MASSACHUSETTES: If the buyer doesn’t ask, the seller and seller’s agent don’t have to tell. But if the buyer asks, the seller and agent must disclose. Buyers, be proactive!
Massachusettes New Stigmatized Property Law  
VIRGINIA: Liz Carlson of Long and Foster Oceanfront Office in Virginia Beach explained the situation in her state: “Virginia does not allow disclosure without written consent of Seller when representing the Seller. The reasoning–it does not materially affect the value.”
Visit Liz Carlson’s website 
WASHINGTON: Pili Meyer of Coldwell Banker Uptown Realty in Port Angeles, WA, tells me that “In Washington an agent is required to disclose “existing material facts actually known by the licensee and not readily apparent or ascertainable by the parties.” There is a long list of stigmas, such as murder, suicide, drug related activity, sex crimes, etc., which are only material facts, as defined by our law, if they affect condition or title. So, in Washington, while it is not required to disclose ghosts, it’s great customer service.”
Visit Pili Meyer’s website 
OREGON: Greg Masson of Century 21 All Professionals explained: “The disclosures in Oregon are pertinent to the mechanical structure of a
home. We are required to disclose if it has ever been used as a drug
manufacturing place, as the chemicals could seep into the structure.
However, we are not required to disclose if any deaths have ever occurred in
a home.”
Visit Greg Masson’s website 
OREGON: Derek Ness with John L. Scott wrote to me that “In Oregon you are not required to do any disclosure on stigmatized
houses, other than previous drug manufacturing. Ghosts, murders,
suicides, etc need not be disclosed.”
Visit Derek Ness’s website 
HAWAII:Recently I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with John Riggins (John Riggins Real Estate in Honolulu, HI) and he told me that in Hawaii, sellers ARE required to disclose non-material things that effect value and desireability to a buyer – and that includes ghosts, if present. John told me a great deal about the Hawaiian respect for the land and sense of spirituality and it was quite interesting. Also he told me a bit about the Menehunes – the native spirits believed to care for the land in Hawaii, and the strong belief in them there.
Visit John Riggins website 
ILLINOIS: My Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council newsletter for October 2005 included an article about disclosing stigmas, ghosts and other “non material facts”. In Illinois, “the real estate licensing statute (225 ILCS 454/15-20) says, in relevant part, that ‘no cause of action arises against a licensee for failing to disclose…ii)that the property was the site of an act or occurrence that had no effect on the physical condition of the property or its environment or the structures located theron;…’ ” (REBAC newsletter p. 3, Oct 2005) Since ghosts would not have an effect on the physical condition of the structure, they therefore do not need to be disclosed.  
This is a fabulous page that quotes the civil code from about 2-3 dozen states for a reference. Additionally, there are article links, many of which are on this page of mine already. If you are looking for the civil code, this is a great place to start.
Buying or Selling Haunted or Stigmatized Properties 
Bill discusses the disclosure requirements for New Jersey r.e. ghosts and stigmas in this excellent blog post!
New Jersey disclosure c/o William Blume