Who died and left you. . . the buyer?

Flickr photo by Shaheer Shahid

When it comes to purchasing a property in which someone died, good luck easily finding out that was the case. One reason for secrecy: Such a property generally takes longer to sell.

It doesn’t matter whether there even is a suspicion that someone perished from natural causes, accidental ones, murder or suicide, but state law protects brokers, owners and mere occupants from having to disclose that information.

Nor must they disclose whether an occupant or owner has or had HIV, AIDS or “any other disease which has been determined by medical evidence to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through occupancy of a dwelling place. . . “

Of course, there can be no rational concern about those circumstances, yet so-called stigmatized properties must be revealed as such in other jurisdictions.  Since the law here declares that the death and disease stigmas are not “material” defects, New York State protects real estate agents and owners from a disclosure requirement.  I’d say that’s a good thing.

Resourceful, if irrational, buyers who wonder what may have happened in an apartment or house that they contemplate purchasing can find out quite a lot from basic sleuthing.  It will take a bit of persistence and time.

Neighbors and building employees can be enormously helpful.  Then there’s the Internet, where checking ownership, obituaries, addresses and police records can provide information about crimes and, possibly, causes and whereabouts of deaths.

For potential buyers worried about HIV and AIDS, the likelihood is strong that neighbors, door personnel and supers will have plenty of gossip to dispense.  Should they reveal the existence of an owner or occupant with an immune deficiency, then I, for one, would be thrilled about the price prospective purchasers would pay for forsaking the perfect new one out of stupidity.

Such buyers deserve the punishment that they inflict on themselves.

Tomorrow: Buyer barriers

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, search for your new home here.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

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