Disclosing Suicide When Selling a Home

As a Realtor, there is nothing specifically written that requires the listing agent to disclose a suicide that has occurred in a property they have for sale. With that said, the seller and the listing agent do have an obligation under Ohio case law to disclose anything that could affect a buyer’s decision to purchase. Since listing agents do not know what could affect a buyer’s decision to purchase, case law suggests that a suicide should be disclosed.

The listing agent should advise their client on the importance of disclosing. A buyer will likely find out about the suicide after moving in and speaking to the neighbors in Fairport Harbor. If the buyer feels this would have affected their decision to purchase, they may decide to bring a lawsuit.

The disclosure is the seller’s decision though and the listing agent has a duty to follow the order of the seller. If the seller does not want to disclose, the listing agent should have something signed stating they informed the seller of the potential lawsuit for not disclosing. This non-disclosure form still does not keep the listing agent from being brought into a lawsuit. Therefore, a Realtor may decide not to take a listing if the seller refuses to disclose a prior suicide. If the seller decides not to disclose, the seller should be advised to speak with an attorney.

If the seller agrees to disclose, the listing agent should wait to disclose the suicide until a potential buyer has an interest in the property. At this time or at the time of an offer, the disclosure should be made. This will remove the liability while still being able to market the property effectively.

It should be noted that this is not the same in all states. Some states specifically address suicide and if it is required to be disclosed.

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Joseph A. Zingales is a Broker in the State of Ohio, a Broker in the State of Florida, the Principal of The Zingales Team and has been a licensed Real Estate Agent since January 1998.

Licensed/Certified: Broker, Realtor®, Appraiser, and Home Stager.

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