Real Estate Agent in East York - Better Homes And Gardens Real Estate

Those Dark Secrets In Your Home's Past, Do They Have To Be Disclosed?

20 February 2018
Kevin Hartley

East York, or elsewhere, a seller’s rep has to disclose latent (known, but a hidden defect that cannot be reasonably inspected i.e. a foundation crack, over which the seller knowingly installed a drywall wall) and patent defects (i.e. a deep crack in a basement floor, which is entirely covered during showings by a rug). 

Stigmatising events do not necessarily affect the appearance or structure/function of property or the buildings on it.

Psychological stigmas may trigger a negative emotional response in potential buyers. These are non-physical attributes of property, typically related to incidents that have or are alleged to have happened at a property such a murder, suicide, grow-op, gang or criminal residence, even hauntings.

Vast many buyers get squeamish at the notion of a potential home having had a criminal, spooky or unfortunate past.  In the case of a  meth lab or marijuana grow-op that has been remediated back to safe living conditions, the stigma can live on for many years.

There is no requirement in Ontario to disclose the existence of stigmas to buyers. The degree of relevance and emotional impact of a potential “stigma” is substantially determined by perceptions and personal values,  religion, gender, age, ethnic background, and other individual concerns, as such "stigmas" are somewhat subjective.

Although sellers don't need to disclose stigmas to potential buyers, steps can be taken to discover and avoid properties that may trigger a negative emotional response for a buyer.

The buyer's agent should know in great detail what if any psychological stigmas would detract their client from making a purchase. This understanding starts with an open conversation. Along with a list of the wants and needs for your dream home, you should have a list of things you do not want. Tell your agent up front what you want to avoid. If that includes ghostly activity or former grow-ops (regardless of remediation), tell your agent.

Now your agent is informed and can search for and inquire about properties accordingly. 

It is the seller's right to sell their property for as much as they can, and this is why a seller may not want a stigma broadly know to potential buyers. A seller's representative may be instructed by the seller not to disclose any stigma, however, if asked a direct question, the seller's representative cannot lie, but can decline to answer and suggest research be undertaken elsewhere. Talking to neighbours and doing an internet search of the address can often reveal the stigma at hand.

Ultimately buyers hold responsible for satisfying themselves that the property they want to call home is suitable for their purposes, physical and emotional comforts. Under the doctrine of caveat emptor (“buyer beware”), a bit of research and having a frank conversation with your representative will serve you well. 

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Kevin Hartley, Broker is a Toronto based real estate Broker with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate | Signature Service, Brokerage. @Home is his lifestyle blog, an expression of his passion for home keeping though MAKING (Recipes), DOING (DIY), BEING (Health/Wellness) and DWELLING (Home Ownership, Sales & Maintenance).  Content not intended to solicit clients under contract.

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