A Pennsylvania woman has appealed to the state Supreme Court in her suit against a home seller and real estate agent who failed to disclose that a murder-suicide had taken place in the home she purchased. When Janet Milliken, 59, moved from California after her husband died, she had hoped to start a new life with her two teenage children in Pennsylvania near her family. She bought a home in Thornton, Pa., for $610,000 in June 2007. She learned a few weeks after she moved in from a next-door neighbor that a murder-suicide had occurred the year before
Comments: She could have claimed it was haunted a la The Amityville Horror.
Reply 9 - Posted by:
get er done, 1/28/2013 7:59:10 PM (No. 9145199)
Will this case motivate home buyers to ask if anyone has died (or been murdered) in a home they intend to purchase? If a home is very old, it is more likely that a previous owner/resident died within the home, as people tended to die at home in their beds in the old days. Women also gave birth at home, and some died in childbirth. Newborns occasionally died in or soon after childbirth.
In the 80´s my daughter became friends with a kid who had just moved to our town from CA. We were discussing home values in Missouri vs. California and he said they were only paying $600 a month for an apartment before they moved because someone was murdered in the bathtub. I probably couldn´t do something like that. We had to give our little dog a tranquilizer pill so we could take her to the vet to be put down and when I came back home, I had to remove the rug she had layed on when she went to sleep because I kept seeing her there in my mind´s eye.
Some states require that the seller disclose if the house is alleged to be haunted. The first--and to date, only--house I ever bought was 125 years old at the time of purchase. (They don´t build them like that anymore.) I assume, given its age, that people died in the house, may have been laid out in what they would have called the parlor, and were born in the house. So? It´s life. It´s history.
Several months after I bought my house in 1997 one of my neighbors informed me that the previous owner had shot himself in the house. I don´t remember even wondering about such a thing happening in the house when I was sealing the deal. It was an elderly couple who had lived there and I understand the husband was quite ill and could no longer garden and move about, so he took his life. Anyway, a realtor friend told me in our state it was up to me to ask and then the seller would have to reveal the information, otherwise, caveat emptor regined. I never felt any bad juju until the day I began redoing the basement which had been this old man´s favorite place. As I was scraping paint off of the stairwell, a can of soup fell from a shelf in the pantry and made its way down the stairs toward me. Kinda wierd. No reason for the can Never felt anything after that. Was he pleased with the redo or not?
In California, it must be disclosed at the time of listing if someone has died in the house. But believe it or not, they have an exemption if someone died in the house due to AIDS. I´m not making it up.
It might be required in California but I am pretty sure that it is not a required disclosure by a seller under Pennsylvania law. She could have engaged her own buyers´ agent and directed him to research the history of the house and perhaps discovered what happened there, if its something she was concerned about. But if she did not ask, I don´t think the seller is obligated to tell her. I wouldn´t want to live in a house with that history, but she could have done some due diligence.
If the objection is of a spiritual nature, I believe most faiths have a way of sending a bad mojo on its way. Usually it is a blessing of some kind on the house, combined with something spirits find distasteful (like burning sage). It can get very elaborate sometimes but usually works. I bet if she found a local clergy type they would be willing to help her with that.
Under Georgia´s stimatized property law, the seller is not obligated to disclose such an event, UNLESS the buyer asks, and then they are required to tell the truth. Article states that Pennsylvania law does not demand disclosure. Why is she still fighting this after the appeals court ruled against her? At this point, her lawyer is the one making money here, not her.
Look, the woman did not do any research. She could have found out on the internet that the home had only been owned for a very short time and that would have led to her questioning why the price rose so much. At least then she wouldn´t have overpaid. But that was on her. PA doesn´t require such disclosures and a court shouldn´t add requirements to the law that aren´t there.
I was raised in an old NY house that had a history of one spouse shooting the other. The patched bullet holes were judged "really neat" by my high school buddies. Get a life, lady. You should have stayed in Kalifornia.
People die in houses all the time from natural causes. However, when it´s not a natural cause, I think the buyer is entitled to know what went on there. It should be disclosed by the seller or his agent. Therefore, I´m on the side of Janet here.
When hubby and I were househunting last year, while we were looking at a possible home, a neighbor chatted with my hubby. Based on what neighbor said, hubby then checked the police records in that community for the past 10 years. Turns out that not only had a murder-suicide happened there, but the house was also a drug house. Needless to say, we did not buy. I can understand this lady. Based on my own experiences, I would not want to live in a house where recent incidents like that happened.
When money is involved, sellers and agents both have agendas that aren´t in the buyers best interest. Always Always Always do your research. You might get a big surprise if you don´t.
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