Is Murder a Material Fact in Florida Home Buying?
Is Murder a Material Fact in Florida Home Buying?
Buyers Broker of Florida says Florida Agents are not required to disclose a murder in a home…but should they? I sure think so…
In Florida, agents do not have to disclose a murder because as an attorney (name withheld) with the Florida Realtors Association said in a major Florida newspaper article: "Murder, suicide or another disturbing act is not a material fact".
Florida Statute says: ”The fact that a property was, or was at any time suspected to have been, the site of a homicide, suicide, or death is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction”.
In fact, after 30+ years of representing ONLY home buyers I vehemently disagree. I say that murder is a material fact, and should be labeled as such.
I also disagree with the attorney's newspaper opinion that "stigmatized properties are gaining popularity". If they are so popular, why then, do they sell for less?
Come on…gaining popularity??? Show me where.
For sure "murder or suicide homes" do sell for less and take longer to sell...unless no one has told the home buyer about it. While agents are required to disclose if asked, I am sure that some agents would keep that a secret.
Sure, natural deaths are common, but a violent death is not. According to DiedinHouse.com, it can decrease the home's value by 25% and increase its time to sell up to 50% longer than comparable homes.
What is a material fact?
A material fact in real estate is well-defined as a fact that, if known, might have caused a buyer of real estate to make a different decision with regards to considering buying a home or remaining in a contract or making the same offer.
It is a fact that, if known, would reasonably result in a homebuyer making a different decision. A material fact does not have to be something that you can see or touch. It can be ghosts, the neighbors, a suicide, or MURDER.
I even had a buyer nix a property due to a proposed highway that was not built yet. Yes, that also can be a “material” fact for not buying.
Home buyers with children will eliminate homes in school districts with "F" rated schools, if they can afford to. Anyone selling real estate knows that homes with low school scores are always priced lower than communities with "A" rated schools.
That is something that you cannot touch or feel, yet this material fact can be a show-stopper for those with families. I can also say with certainty that the majority of my clients would not even be interested in viewing a home where a murder occured...and If I know about a murder or suicide, you better believe that I will tell.
The Florida Realtor Association attorney goes on to say “It” (murder) is not seen as a physical aspect like the roof, plumbing or foundation". Of course not! A Material fact does not need to be only something physical. It can be anything that makes the buyer uncomfortable enough to make them want to change their mind about buying that property.
Besides, I will bet money that most home buyers will accept a leaky roof over a family murder in the home. A leak can be fixed. A killing cannot be erased. I know from experience that my home buying clients would stay away from a murder house no differently than they would not want to build a home next to a lot that has a sinkhole.
I am seasoned at showing homes in all kinds of conditions, but I also remember the creepy feeling I had when I realized the wall splatter on a luxury home staircase was blood.
My Duty to Disclose as an Exclusive Buyer Agent
As a TRUE Exclusive Buyers Agent, (which is the highest form of buyer representation), I owe the ultimate responsibility for my clients. I owe “extra” care to my buyer clients. That is a much higher standard of care than a seller's agent, a transaction broker, or a traditional buyer agent that also represents sellers would be required to give.
I owe my buyers total disclosure along with my fiduciary duties of undivided loyalty, total confidentiality, skill care and diligence.. I tell it like it is and never “spin” the truth. So does everyone in our office.
A TRUE Exclusive Buyers Agent works only in a Buyer Brokerage Office where everyone in that office has the same fiduciary duty to the home buyer. Currently, no other Tampa Bay area Real Estate office can legally guarantee that!
AS AN EXCLUSIVE BUYERS AGENT IT IS MY JOB TO TELL MY BUYER CLIENTS EVERYTHING THAT MAY BE A TURNOFF TO THEM. (unless of course, that disclosure violates the law, which in this case it does not). So If I do know, you will too…
Seriously, homebuyers are lucky to find us and be able to trust that we will give them the “real” full disclosure. The good, the bad and the ugly. If that means the buyer will be turned off from the purchase, so be it. It’s never a problem for us to find a different property for the buyer to buy.
You will be glad you called!
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