Buying and Selling Homes with a Dark Past

Posted by Justin Havre. on Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 8:01am.

Recently, a home in Calgary went on the market that had a dark past associated with it. The home is the one where multiple murders occurred this year. Across Canada every year, many homes get listed where violent attacks have occurred. In the industry, these homes are referred to as "stigmatized properties”.

The laws regarding stigmatized properties

In the United States, there is a law in most states requiring sellers to make a full disclosure about a murder or a suicide that has occurred on the property within the last 3 years. In Canada, Québec is the only province in the country that has a disclosure law for murder. Throughout the rest of Canada, including Alberta, a real estate agent has no legal obligation to let a buyer know that the property has a dark past.

There is, however, an integrity code that a real estate agent has to abide to. If a buyer asks about a dark past regarding a home, the agent has 2 ways he can answer.

  1. He can state the truth that the murder happened there.
  2. If the seller has decided to not disclose the information, the agent will let the potential buyer know that he'll have to perform his own research.

In some cases, where the properties have become notorious sites of a murder, the building needs to be torn down. This was the case with the Paul Bernardo home in St. Catherine's, Ontario, O.J. Simpson's house, the buildings at Robert Pickton's pig farm in Coquitlam and others.

When it comes to homeowners that have peacefully passed away in their own places, it doesn't seem to be a big deal to most people. Violent deaths, however, attach a negative stigma to a home and make it much harder to sell.

The best way to find out about a home's past if you are concerned about it is to check with the neighbours. They will be able to give you a heads up about a home that may carry a dark past with it.

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