The laws on stigmatized property in Missouri may or may not affect your decision to purchase a home

CJ Coombs

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Stigmatized property is a term used by real estate agents or sellers associated with a potential buyer who might walk away from the real property for reasons unrelated to its structure, features, or condition.

The house could have been involved with an unnatural death such as murder or suicide, or maybe there were claims it was haunted.

This subject became important to me when I was researching an 81-year-old Kansas City cold case. I often wondered if a previous owner of the home where the crime occurred had disclosed that information to the next buyer.

Do you have to disclose to a potential buyer there were unnatural occurrences in property for sale?

Half of the states have laws that deal with the subject of stigmatized properties. If a seller believes he or she has seen a ghost in their house, for example, some states don't require the seller to disclose that information. The house value may go down, however, because of psychological reasons--the stigma. Would you buy a home where a seller discloses a ghost was seen or that someone was murdered in one of the rooms?

Missouri has only a few statutory sections that specifically require a home seller to make disclosures to potential buyers. (Source.)

There is a Missouri statute (Missouri Rev. Stat. § 442.606) that states if methamphetamine was being produced in the home, that the seller must disclose this to the buyer in writing.

Missouri specifically allows home sellers to remain silent on certain matters related to 'psychological impacts' on the property. This includes whether prior occupants of the home had HIV/AIDS or another disease that's unlikely to be transmitted via later occupancy, or whether the home was the site of a murder, felony, or suicide. (See Missouri Rev. Stat. § 442.600.) (Source.)

According to Missouri Rev. Stat. § 442.600, psychologically impacted real property is defined as:

(1)  Real property in which an occupant is, or was at any time, infected with human immunodeficiency virus or diagnosed with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or with any other disease which has been determined by medical evidence to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupancy of a dwelling place; or
(2)  Real property which was the site of a homicide or other felony, or of a suicide.

Also, a cause of action can't be brought against the real estate agent or broker if there was a failure to disclose a psychologically impacted real property.

Interestingly, there is a website called housecreep that lists and finds properties where a murder, crime, or even paranormal activity has occurred. These occurrences present a stigma that can lead to a psychological decision by a buyer on whether or not the property will be purchased.

The best risk management practice is to disclose what is known or required by your state. Focus on the open and obvious issues, and always disclose information made available by the seller. (Source.)

The bottom line in Missouri is that disclosing psychologically impacted real property is not mandatory and you can't sue for an agent or broker's failure to disclose the same as defined by law.

On a real estate resource's website, What is a Stigmatized Property? | Laws for all 50 States, written in 2019, the blog provides types of stigmatized properties and stigmatized properties by state including links and associated statutes.

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author; 30 years of legal secretarial experience; BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO
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