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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Suicide and Seller Disclosure

Disclosing, But on a "Need to Know" Basis

[Editor's Note: thanks to Henry Brandis, Edina Realty Senior Vice President, for providing background on this post.]

Currently under Minnesota law, home Sellers have no obligation to tell prospective Buyers that a suicide occurred on the premises (originally, there was no disclosure requirement; then there was; now there isn't again).

Yet experienced Realtors will often advise Sellers to disclose that fact, anyways, for two reasons: 1) the Buyer is inevitably going to find out; and 2) given #1, it's better for the Seller to get ahead of the issue, and defuse it.

"Need to Know" Basis

So, what is the preferred strategy?

Given the sensitivity of the subject, the most appropriate way to handle it is to wait until a prospect shows serious interest in the home -- typically, when they do a second showing.

Then, the listing agent will provide the prospective Buyer with an informal but written disclosure, and ask them to initial it.

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