undisclosed murder... - Posted by steph in tex

Posted by Alex Gurevich, TX on October 02, 2001 at 21:41:34:

I believe we are talking about different things. You stated that the disclosure form in the sec. 5.008 of the property code has an explicit question:

“Yes__ No __ Death on the Property other than death
caused by: natural causes, suicide, or accident
unrelated to the Property’s condition.”

I reviewed the Code and failed to find that question on the disclosure form. I wonder where you got it from? There are other disclosure forms in circulation, for example TAR or TREC that also don’t have this question on the form. So you might be looking at a different form.

All the derived forms however, are not the law. In the Spetember’s issue of Texas Realtor newsletter there was an article by an attorney who explictly discussed the issues of Seller Disclosure law in Texas. He clarified that Seller is under no obligation to fill out a form that exceeds the minimum requirements set by the Sec 5.008. Whatever you are looking at is probably a derived form.

When somebody lies or misrepresents (whether it’s about a murder on the property or an aluminum wiring, or some even much smaller matter) they are exposing themselves to liability under the law and they deserve what they get.

My point was that the law (propety code) doesn’t explicitly require this particular disclosure, while it also doesn’t explicitly exclude it from things that must be disclosed.

So it is left to courts to decide the liability for lack of disclosure.

undisclosed murder… - Posted by steph in tex

Posted by steph in tex on October 02, 2001 at 08:42:54:

Hey gang…

here’s one for ya.

Just closed on a house last week. This week all the neighbors are coming out of the wood work to tell me about the houses history.
Seems there was a murder/suicide about a year ago (seller’s father killed his mom then himself) and then the death of the seller’s 2months old baby 2months before the sale.
None of this was disclosed. The realtor said he did have prior knowledge, but said…“doesn’t have anything to do with the house…”
Hello?? am I missing something? Is murder not a criminal act that requires disclosure?? We all know how death on property effects the sale of such property.
Looks like we’re headed for mediation. Anybody have comments?

Steph in tex

Thanks and more info… - Posted by Steph in Tex

Posted by Steph in Tex on October 02, 2001 at 21:00:21:

Nice to find everyone still eager to jump right in there! It’s been a while since I’ve been on the board.
Thanks for all the responses.

Both the attornies I spoke to today say that YES, murder is a crimianl act that must be disclosed if it happened on the property. The suicide does not require disclosure. The death of the infant may or may not need to be disclosed. That depends on the findings of the autopsy (which nieghbors say the family was forced to have preformed). If it was not conclusive, the death WOULD have to be disclosed, as they could not rule out things such as mold etc that may be related to the house.
We will very likely not sue, as the other party is open to nego. The realtor is also willing to settle this anyway he can help (commissions) if it will avoid the sellers having to buy back the property.
From hearing about Trandles experience with a murder house, I’m kinda hesitant to keep it, but for those who asked ~ yes~ I got it for a good price. I will likely add this to my rentals. Should cash flow with sec 8 about 400.00 a month. Kinda creepy though.

Thanks again for all the comments. I’ll give an update once this thing plays out.

Steph in Tex

Re: Hello…You will loose… - Posted by Ed Copp (OH)

Posted by Ed Copp (OH) on October 02, 2001 at 20:00:28:

your mediation.

It is not the Realtors job to disclose information that:

Has nothing to do with the house.

Is public record anyway.

sell it to me… - Posted by TRandle

Posted by TRandle on October 02, 2001 at 14:02:49:

Did you get it cheap enough? I can’t seem to move the one I already have (and it’s only one body), so what’s one more? I’m not serious. Based on my experience, the property will still move if it’s below market in regards to the sales price and/or monthly. The murder seems to turn about 50% of our prospects away.

How did the infant die? We’ve frequently been asked whether or not the victim was a child. That seems to make a huge difference to some.

You may want to check your contract. If you used the TREC form or something similar, there’s verbiage in there stating that representations made survive closing.

Re: undisclosed murder… - Posted by Travis (Dallas)

Posted by Travis (Dallas) on October 02, 2001 at 11:08:07:

Texas law requires that situations as you described be disclosed on a Seller’s Disclosure Notice form according to Section 5.008 of the Texas Property Code. You probably have recourse against all agents involved, the brokers, the seller, etc. I’d at least call the broker so that it doesn’t happen to someone else. If you are harmed monetarily, you may want to seek legal counsel.
One of the questions on the form is as follows:
Yes__ No __ Death on the Property other than death caused by: natural causes, suicide, or accident unrelated to the Property’s condition.
Hope this helps.

Re: undisclosed murder… - Posted by dewCO

Posted by dewCO on October 02, 2001 at 11:06:07:

The selling agent is probably right–that’s the way it is here in CO too. I’ve been told to tell the seller it isn’t a required disclosure, but that unless the seller agrees to disclose I probably wouldn’t take the listing, because usually the buyer has a problem with the knowledge, which they usually don’t find out until after they close and the neighborhs tell them!

On the other hand, if you had a buyer’s agent, and you didn’t want to buy such a house, you should have had the agent ask on your behalf, and/or, what I tell my buyers is, if you want to find out about the house or the nieghborhood, go talk to others on the block BEFORE or as part of your inspection. Cuts down on the potential hear burn later.

If you bought at below market, don’t know you’ll get anything out of persuing this. Think any one would reason, well you got a deal, so what do you want? If you didn’t get a deal, well…don’t know, maybe a mediator would be sympathethic, but after the contract closes, don’t believe there is any duty to mediate by either the seller or the agent. And if it’s not required disclosure, then agent and seller probably did nothing “actually” wrong.

Re: undisclosed murder… - Posted by Dave T

Posted by Dave T on October 02, 2001 at 10:59:37:

Did the murder/suicide take place in the house?

While the murder might not require disclosure, what about the suicide? I suspect that suicide in the property is a material factor requiring disclosure.

is disclosure required in calif? - Posted by Brandon Ford

Posted by Brandon Ford on October 02, 2001 at 10:08:02:

is this disclosure required in calif? what about if prior occupant had AIDS?

Re: undisclosed murder… - Posted by Bob-Tx

Posted by Bob-Tx on October 02, 2001 at 09:54:06:

I had a similar case a couple of years ago wherein I bought a property from a licensed commercial agent. After rehab and while showing the house I was confronted by the local police detective who informed me of a drug deal gone bad ending in murder in the kitchen of the house. Put a bit of a damper on that potential buyer for sure.

In Texas it is mandatory that sellers disclose this type of thing. My lawyer informed that my recourse could take one of three paths…

  1. demand he buy the house back and reimburse all monies spent in rehab and holding
  2. Discount the selling price of the house demanding that the previous owner compensate for that discount
  3. File on him with the state r.e. commission which would most likely jerk his license

No BIG settlement, but several pathways out of a sticky situation. I decided I would be best served by selling the house at full retail, disclosing the event. Gave myself 60 days to sell it after which I would pursue one of the remedies above. I worked up a way to tell the story with the least bit of gruesome detail and did sell it within the 60 days for full asking price. That history scared off several potential buyers but one came along who didn’t give a whit so long as I could get him a loan which we did and all ended well.

Best of fortunes with this one whatever you decide to do.

Re: undisclosed murder… - Posted by John

Posted by John on October 02, 2001 at 09:31:04:


I know how you feel but I am pretty sure it doesn’t need to be disclosed. Murder is not a latent defect with the house. Sure, some people might not want to live there but there are some that will. Especially if it is priced right.

Good luck with the house.


Re: Thanks and more info… - Posted by Terry (Houston)

Posted by Terry (Houston) on October 03, 2001 at 17:31:28:

I can tell you I would be on the phone with the Realtors broker ASAP.

I read the post by Alex and, as someome taking some clases right now, it it clearly instructed in the Contracts Class that a murder does have to be disclosed. Accidental and suicide does not.

If the realtor had knowledge I would go to the broker then to the listing agents broker it they are different, then to TREC with a Formal complaint.

I would also make sure they knew I was going to Trec.

Raise heck and ring some bells on these jerks.


Re: Thanks and more info… - Posted by Ronald * Starr

Posted by Ronald * Starr on October 03, 2001 at 14:38:11:


Interesting question.

I’ve never seen any answer to this or information on it. Meaning, I don’t know anything about it. But that won’t stop me from making a guess.

I’ll bet one does not have to disclose to renters. Otherwise, we would have heard of it.

Reasons we might not have to disclose: one of the main concerns is to protect innocent homeowners from financial distress caused by overpaying for properties that have a stigma attached to them. The renters are not “stuck” with the house as is an owner/buyer. While the renters can get away from the situation by simply moving to some other rental place, property owners are not so free. The owners would probably have to sell the property to move. Then, if they disclose to their prospective buyers, they might suffer a financial loss due to lowered demand leading to lower offering prices. And a subsequent lower selling price.

Also, The renters do not have a financial interest in the property. Their economic damage, if any is claimed, would probably be impossible to prove.

Good Investing****************Ron Starr**************

Re: Rental - Posted by Dave

Posted by Dave on October 03, 2001 at 12:41:14:

If you make it a rental, do you have to disclose that there was a death in the house?

Re: Hello…You will loose… - Posted by Redline

Posted by Redline on October 05, 2001 at 24:33:30:

Dont jump so quick. This varies state by state. Last I heard from my broker, this had to be disclosed here in NJ. (this is unconfirmed).

Either way, I know this varies state to state.


Re: Hello…You will loose… - Posted by Travis (Dallas)

Posted by Travis (Dallas) on October 02, 2001 at 21:10:56:

I believe things are different in Texas.
We like to know about the dead bodies in our houses and the law as I understand it requires REALTORS to disclose little things like that.
I’ve also heard of law suits being won by buyers when houses had a reputation for being haunted & the agents did not disclose the information about alleged GHOSTS to the buyer. I’ve also heard that some buyers will pay more for a haunted house. One persons trash is another’s treasure.
My policy is to disclose, disclose, disclose…

The law is unclear about murder. See the link. - Posted by Alex Gurevich, TX

Posted by Alex Gurevich, TX on October 02, 2001 at 14:30:51:

Texas seller disclosure notice, per Texas Property Code, section 5.008, subsection (c) explicitly states:

Seller or seller’s agent has no duty to disclose whether a death by natural cause, suicide or accident unrelated to the condition of property occured…

Since murder isn’t specifically excluded, it’s not clear whether a disclosure is required. It will probably have to be argued in court.

here’s the link for those Texas investors who want
to read the law:


Re: The law is unclear about murder. See the link. - Posted by Travis (Dallas)

Posted by Travis (Dallas) on October 02, 2001 at 20:59:04:

If a seller or agent lied or misinformed the buyer about a murder taking place on the property, I think that there would be definite grounds for recourse.
I understand that there are alot of test cases that have rewarded damaged parties when the truth was not disclosed about a murder taking place on the property.
I’m not a lawyer, but I would suggest that everything about the property be disclosed.