Halloween home horror? Check the history of a house before you buy

Realtors may have to disclose if a house has a history, if they are aware of it.
Realtors may have to disclose if a house has a history, if they are aware of it. (Photo: REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz)

Though Halloween is the time of the year when haunted houses are quite popular with kids and adults alike, the real thing is a lot less popular with homebuyers.

If the house you are considering buying is rumoured to be haunted, or a crime may have occurred on the property, you may not be informed of it, because there doesn’t seem to be a legal obligation to let buyers know about a house’s history.

“The law basically says to a buyer, ‘buyer beware.’ Do your homework; sellers don’t have to disclose it,” Mark Weisleder, a partner at RealEstateLawyers.ca told Yahoo Finance.

Realtors have their own code of ethics and they may have to disclose if a house has a history, if they are aware of it.

Still, if you suspect the home you are interested in buying is haunted, or a gruesome crime may have occurred there, here are some things you can do:

  • Do a Google search on the house address;
  • You can use tools or websites like housecreep.com, which has information about properties and may show a creepy or criminal history of the house; and
  • You can talk to people in the neighbourhood where you are looking to buy the house.

Weisleder recommends that a condition be put in the purchase contract that says, “The seller warrants to the buyer that to the best of their knowledge, this property has not been stigmatized by any of the following acts or occurrences: (then insert murder, suicide, natural death, haunted house, house of prostitution) that the buyer considers traumatic or horrific.”

Once a purchase contract is signed by the buyer and seller of a house, buyers usually can’t get out of the contract unless a condition hasn’t been fulfilled by the seller.

Find a Lawyer