If there is one thing any homeowner would tell you, even if he or she built their own home from the ground up themselves, it is that their house is not perfect. There are always small creaks in the floor, rooms that do not quite get the greatest cell phone reception, or that one faulty electrical outlet. I am sure you are thinking of all the things that need to be fixed in your own home. Fortunately for many, these problems are not that serious. Some other neighbors of ours unfortunately, are not so lucky.
One of these major problems was one of the top stories on national news yesterday. A couple sold their house with a HUGE problem, literally. Glenn and Kathryn Jasen thought they were simply getting rid of and selling their problems and sneakily giving them to the next people in selling their Tampa Florida home with a giant sink hole existing beneath it. Now, they are facing a potential twenty years in prison. The couple who bought the house was featured on the news and the mother stated that their babies crib was directly above a thirty foot drop. If they were not aware of the sink hole’s existence, they would be facing no charges. But there is proof that they were knowledgeable of it because they filed for assistance from their insurance company, and quite literally took the money and ran. Get the whole story from ABC news here.
This may raise the question of,
What do sellers have to tell potential buyers when transferring ownership of a home?
A recent article on realtor.com goes into great detail on what needs to be communicated between buyers and sellers, and suggests that being transparent with all the issues in the home can foster a better business relationship and less tense negotiations. Some of these issues in need of communication include the materials that the house was made with such as asbestos siding, or lead paint- which are both harmful. Buyers are also supposed to inform buyers of draining issues or areas in the home that are prone to flooding. There is an endless list of potential problems with homes. A comprehensive list can be found here on hgtv.com. A great tool to start looking at potential structural issues is by finding out what year the home was built, which can quickly answer some questions about its structure and contents.
As I briefly mentioned in one of my previous posts, buyers often get a home inspection done prior to signing the contract, it is widely encouraged so that buyers do not find themselves with a flooded basement, or in the family in Florida’s case, a ticking time bomb right below their feet. This is an essential part of the home buying process, as further explained in the below video.
So you might be thinking, it doesn’t matter if the owners inform buyers of little quirks of a house, the inspector will find them anyway. I tend to agree with you. But there are some details about a home that an inspector cannot find, and in the spirit of Halloween, I dare to call it, the “soul of the house.”
What I mean is that sellers are required to inform buyers if someone has died in the property as well as if the property was a crime scene. Of course sellers are hesitant to communicate this information because it can be creepy and scary. It has the potential to hurt property values immensely. Are you wondering if someone has ever died in your house? Perhaps you have never thought of it before. Chances are if you are the second or third owner, your master bedroom could be where Mr. Previous Owner took his last breath. That is completely objective and there are no statistics to support it, but hey who knows? The question to whether or not it was a crime scene can be easy to find out but death?- who knows? Just as not communicating the fact that a sinkhole was beneath a home, owners can get into trouble without reporting this information.
Curious? There is a website which can help you find out of someone died in your house, for a small fee of course, fittingly entitled, diedinhouse.com.
If someone buys a house and finds out after the fact that someone had died in the property without being told, they have the right to sue the sellers claiming it hurts the value of the home. Some states are different with laws. For instance buyers only have to be notified about a death within the past three years in California, and only murders and suicides have to be reported to buyers in Alaska. More laws and regulations are explained by Redfin.
All of these procedures can seem daunting in the home purchasing process. That is why Realtors exist, to help everyday people find their way home, a home free from sink holes and ghosts hopefully. Do you have any crazy home stories? Let us know. This is an open house of Real Estate, you are always welcome