I have been reading a lot of different articles and recently overheard another agent speaking with a customer on this topic. Every answer I hear is different, and wrong.

This is a tough subject. I think we put our feelings about the subject before the law. It bothers some of us so much that the thought of even having a listing of a “stigmatized” property is something that won’t even been considered!

They are called “stigmatized” or “psychologically impacted”, any home that had a tragic or unfortunate event that happened inside. That event can range from a simple natural death, to as alarming as a murder.

MA Law is very clear on the subject:

Section 114. The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction.

“Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following:

(a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling;

(b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and

(c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.

No cause of action shall arise or be maintained against a seller or lessor of real property or a real estate broker or salesman, by statute or at common law, for failure to disclose to a buyer or tenant that the real property is or was psychologically impacted.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions of this section shall not authorize a seller, lessor or real estate broker or salesman to make a misrepresentation of fact or false statement.

The last sentence needs to be closely looked at.


Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions of this section shall not authorize a seller, lessor or real estate broker or salesman to make a misrepresentation of fact or false statement.

That means quite simply “If asked then answer. And you must answer honestly”.  This law squarely places the burden on the buyer.  So if you close on a home and the next door neighbor approaches you and says “Do you know that the wife was murdered in the house you just bought?” I know that may freak you right out, but the law is clear that you have to ask if someone died, or was murdered in the home.  Neither the agent or the seller has to make an upfront disclosure or say anything at all about the situation. To MA State Law that is not a material defect with the property requiring disclosure.

If you ask the question, and the agent has the knowledge the agent must answer.  If the agent does not have the knowledge and answers that way, you then should ask “Can you ask the seller?” and the agent will have to ask the seller.  The seller has an obligation to answer honestly.

Some agents feel very strongly about the topic and feel it should be disclosed up front at all times.  It is a HUGE moral challenge for many agents, but if the agent states it they are breaching their fiduciary contract with the seller and can be sued by the seller for making the disclosure without the seller’s permission.   

Bobbie Files, C.D.P.E., Realtor, SUCCESS! Real Estate

Bobbie Files

508-521-9480

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Bobbie Files is a Real Estate agent at SUCCESS Real Estate, covering the Bristol, Plymouth and Norfolk County areas.