When a House Has a Crime History, Should Buyers Know?


When a house has been the scene of a murder, should potential new owners be informed? Using a home in Fargo, N.D., as an anecdotal example, the Associated Press state laws vary widely. North Dakota law requires a real estate agent to disclose a prior murder at a home only if a potential buyer asks, and that doesn’t happen often.

Other states acknowledge a home’s violent past can “adversely and significantly affect an ordinary purchaser’s use or enjoyment of the property, or any intended use of the property of which the licensee is aware,” as Minnesota state law puts it. In Minnesota, that means that if somebody has been murdered in a home, the real estate agent has a duty to disclose it to the buyer. There is no time limit specified on which murders must be disclosed, unlike in California, where the law applies only to deaths within the past three years.

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