Stigmatized Properties Make a Tough Sell

July 5, 2012

Properties in which someone has been murdered or died in can cast a gray cloud over it, real estate professionals say. 

Most states don’t require real estate professionals to disclose such details of what can be considered a “stigmatized property” in potential buyers’ eyes. However, some home buyers become angry  if their real estate agent doesn’t say anything before about the home’s shady past. 

“In most states, a seller isn't required to voluntarily disclose nonstructural issues such as homicides on the property,” Holden Lewis, a real estate expert at, told

Alaska and South Dakota are the only two states that mandate the seller’s agents disclose whether a homicide or suicide occurred in the listed home over the last 12 months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

In some other states — like in Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Oklahoma — real estate agents are only required to answer the question truthfully if a buyer asks about deaths that have occurred on the property. 

Stigmatized properties have been found to linger longer on the market compared to similar properties. They also tend to sell for about 3 percent less, according to a 2000 study conducted by Wright State University professors of 102 “stigmatized” homes in Ohio. Researchers found that the “stigmatized” homes took 45 percent longer to sell, on average, than comparable homes. 

Source: “3 Bedroom, Hot Tub, 3 Murders: How Homicide Homes Hold Their Secrets,” (June 26, 2012)

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