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01-28-2013 01:53 PM
Yes, Realtors, pay attention!
"A Pennsylvania woman has appealed to the state Supreme Court in her suit against a home seller and real estate agent who failed to disclose that a murder-suicide had taken place in the home she purchased.
When Janet Milliken, 59, moved from California after her husband died, she had hoped to start a new life with her two teenage children in Pennsylvania near her family.
She bought a home in Thornton, Pa., for $610,000 in June 2007. She learned a few weeks after she moved in from a next-door neighbor that a murder-suicide had occurred the year before in her home.
She sued the seller and the real estate agent for fraud and misrepresentation, saying they made a "deliberate choice not to disclose the home's recent past," according to a court document.
The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, saying state law does not require agents to disclose such events.
Then in December 2012, a panel of the state appeals court affirmed that decision, though with a nearly split decision.
The matter dates back to Feb. 11. 2006, when a previous homeowner, Konstantinos Koumboulis, allegedly shot and killed his wife, then shot himself in the master bedroom.
Joseph and Kathleen Jacono had bought the home Oct. 31, 2006, knowing of the murder-suicide, for $450,000. They later sold it to Milliken, who wants the transaction rescinded and her money back.
Filing a petition to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania last week with the hope of arguing the case further, the attorney for Milliken, Tim Rayne, said they "hope to have Pennsylvania recognize that having a horrific event occur within a property can be just as damaging and troubling to a future homeowner as a physical defect, or perhaps even more so."
"Having a gunshot murder-suicide committed within the home is much more devastating than having a small leak concealed by the previous homeowner," Rayne said. "Physical defects can be fixed. Troubling events that could and did occur in this home could never go away."
01-28-2013 03:12 PM - edited 01-28-2013 03:12 PM
In California it has to be disclosed, if it happened within the past 2 years.
"it" being "any death", not just violent ones.
01-28-2013 05:27 PM
Goes to show that talking to neighbors could be a valuable part of the screening process..
Reminds me of a property that caught my eye a while back, attracted by the peaceful feel of the redwoods in the yard, etc-- until I saw 'suicide' (by tenant) in the disclosure, which threw the property into a different light (for me, anyway). I assumed it would go to a flipper who would wait until the 2-3y disclosure period was up to relist- though I'm not sure if that would be required if they didn't live in the house first.
01-28-2013 06:05 PM - edited 01-28-2013 06:24 PM
In any neighborhoods that is as old as this area, most homes have had a natural death or two. If the sellers do not disclose ...
I am not sure anyone gives much thought other than accepting we all have to go and we happen to have purchased a property where someone passed away,
In west side of SJ the owned passes away the condition is left as 1970s, wall paper, formica counter, solarium tile, I thought the lack of modern features, and dark house will detern anyone interested. After all it was an estate sale. Well, got 28 offers and sold $125K over asked for (sold in one weekend). Same in Menlo Park on a 1800 sf home there were 104 groups came to look at this out of dated on the weekend home with 1970 era where the feature is the tool storage..Buyers felt they are lucky if they can get the property and will do their own renovation.
Silicon Valley residents are well educated and understand the nature of used properties. Most of the lawsuits is buyers not getting their money worth. Not there is a cross with flowers under a lamp post.
In PA for example Phil. many homes have had ~20 owners and are ~200 years old. Those who insist on a clean home are unlikely to find a "clean" home.
Along the same rhetoric, what happens if you find there are many sex offers live next door after you moved in. I think that is a more pressing issue home owners need to deal with.
01-28-2013 07:11 PM - edited 01-28-2013 07:17 PM
The case in the news article was about undisclosed violent deaths, not natural ones. And it doesn't appear to be about buyers not getting their money's worth either- they were from CA and moved after a death in their own family, so it seems that they may have had somewhat less access to such information which would have had an effect on their decision to purchase the house. People buying from afar tend to rely more heavily on realtors and others for the scoop on neighborhoods, market trends, etc. as they probably do not have the full picture from where they sit.
Personally I like that it is disclosed in CA. Others might not care about it. The mystique might even add value in some cases, as the Winchester Mystery House
01-28-2013 07:33 PM
I heard, but I don't know if true, but in San Jose there's a house that nobody will buy. It's haunted, something bad happened there and in some cultures, specially the Chinese, that's a no no.
But, I think that a recent death on a home is not a deterrent for some buyers. I painted a home on an avenue I can't tell in Willow Glen, by Curtner. That day the owner came out and congratulated me for painting her house by myself during 2 weeks (1,500 including paint) and specially the gazebo in white color. She told me she couldn't pay me more because she wanted to embellish her home so her "kids" (in their 40-50's) could come to visit her and have a nice time. I knew she had brain cancer or something like that. So, at the end of the day, her daughter came to visit her while I was working outside. Later she came all worried to ask me for help. She needed to carry her mother so she could take her to the hospital 'cause she wasn't feeling well. I carried the lady to the car and, that's the last time I saw her on this earth.
2 months later I was painting the inside, the house went on the market on Nov. Dec. Last November, after 4 years I swung by and talked to the lady who bought it. We talked about that death and to not make things complicated I explained her she died at the hospital, something she knew but worth explaining in case I was to start a problem with my open mouth.
Oh, then, the lady I mentioned above (RIP) hated the neighbor, (an investor) that moved in next to her. He took down this old home, turned it into a huge mansion making her lose her privacy. That guy committed a murder-suicide in Los Gatos I heard. It seems he went too much into investing and when banks started to knock on his door he lost it.
Now, if I told you the times I have been terrorized by ghosts or these huge noises while painting alone at midnight in a home, I wouldn't finish in one year. Specially that day while I was in the bathroom...
01-29-2013 02:17 AM
I moved into an apartment in 2005 where a work friend of mine had recently died in the apartment. It did not bother my wife or me. Before the casino in Colma, called "Lucky Chances" opened, they hired a "Feng Shui" specialist to come in and get rid of the evil spirits in the area. Colma has more dead people than live people.