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What are the rules around stigmatised homes?

Author: It sometimes happens that a property on the market has been the site of a murder or gruesome death and is now considered a ‘stigmatised home’.

In these situations, what are the obligations of the agent in advising the potential buyers or tenants about the history of the property?

What is a stigmatised home?
In real estate, a stigmatised home refers to a property that is avoided, regardless of its actual condition or quality, because of an unsavoury event that may have occurred there.

An example of this occurred a few years back in Sydney where a home was sold which was the scene of a grisly murder by Seth Gonzales.

This property became the subject of national attention and court proceedings when the buyers learnt to their horror that their new home was the site of a gruesome murder.

Selling a stigmatised home
Agents who are listing a property that may carry negative stigma are obliged to be transparent with potential clients. If they know a house has been stigmatised they must inform the client prior to a sale or leasing contract.

The issue of stigmatisation does not need to be noted in the marketing for the property. It only needs to be raised with clients if a deal is to be struck.

As a buyer or renter you are entitled to ask and there is an obligation for agents to make reasonable enquiries. Though it should be noted that there are no specific government guidelines, rules or laws on this issue and agents are acting on a case-by-case basis using their own judgement.

What about future transactions?
As time passes certain stigmas can fade but agents are still required to use their judgement. If nanna died of natural causes in the back bedroom ten years ago, there’s probably no need to disclose this.

The general feeling is that stigmatisation probably applies to more recent events. Indeed, it is not unlikely that some homes older than 50 years have probably been witness to familial deaths at some point in their history.

If you are concerned about the history of a property you are interested in, technology is on your side. In today’s highly evolved internet and social media age, a simple search of a property address is likely to inform you of any unsavoury event you should be aware of.

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