Business Magazine

What Does a Seller Need to Disclose? (The Spooky Stuff Edition)

By Homesmsp @HomesMSP

By the time mid September rolls around, without fail, one of my close friends has already pulled out her Halloween decorations, started an email chain re: attending the Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement, and tucked into her list of spooky novels to read. Inevitably I catch the fever, and for a month and a half we go back and forth, regularly updating each other on book and film consumption.

A common theme in this eerie genre is the haunted house: the unwitting family moves in with high hopes of a happy new beginning, only to find their dreams quickly crashing around them as the result of an aggressive paranormal situation.


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All images courtesy of Hennepin History Museum.

Regardless of your own beliefs about the afterlife and what may exist in the ether, the idea of a previous death in a home can be a cause for concern for many when buying. The snag, however, is that a seller doesn’t always need to disclose this type of information. While there are several spook-tastic facts a seller must share (for instance, if a murder has taken place on the property; if human remains, burials, or cemeteries are located on the property; or if methamphetamine production has occurred there), other info can be kept under wraps.

According to Minnesota statute, sellers of Minnesota real estate do not need to disclose if the property:

  1. is or was occupied by an owner or occupant who is or was suspected to be infected with human immunodeficiency virus or diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome;
  2. was the site of a suicide, accidental death, natural death, or perceived paranormal activity; or
  3. is located in a neighborhood containing any adult family home, community-based residential facility, or nursing home.

While the question of a prior death and paranormal activity on site may not matter to most homebuyers, it can be prohibitive in certain cultures. It can be important enough to know that there’s even a site where, for a $10 investment, buyers can learn if someone has died at a particular address. In China, where custom prevents purchasing a home in which someone has died, this knowledge can be disastrous for sellers in multi-unit buildings: the custom applies to the entire property which, in a country with a population of over 1.3 billion, often encompasses hundreds of units.

I had the good fortune to grow up in a “haunted” house. In the early 80s, my parents purchased the next-door neighbor’s home, after the owner died of a heart attack in the bathroom. The house was sold in 2007, and over our 20+ years of occupancy, there was “activity.” If asked, my mom will swear to multiple experiences—having the door locked after she’d stepped outside momentarily, doors sometimes slamming closed on their own, objects being moved by no one in particular, keys inexplicably misplaced. My own experiences were minimal enough that I now question them, though there always was something creepy about the basement shower...

If you’re nonplussed by the thought of a previous tenant dying on the premises, or things going bump in the night, you’ll have an interesting story to share with friends, or to titillate trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Angela Anderson, Realtor, Results Support Services: EMAIL--BIO

Licensed Associate Working with Sharlene Hensrud of RE/MAX Results, and HomesMSP--Sharlene, John, Angela

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