Termites, proximity to landfills, criminal activity and even the possibility of ghosts can spell doom for a real-estate sale.
Those problems present their share of hazards for real-estate agents as well, said Craig Runyon, an instructor at the Brodsky School of Real Estate.
Dealing with so-called “stigmatized” properties can be “quicksand for the average real estate agent,” said Runyon, who taught a class last week on selling difficult properties.
Agents may not always know when they’re required to disclose negative information or when it’s best to keep their mouths shut, Runyon said. A wrong move in either direction could land agents in court, he said.
Sellers and their agents can be held liable for withholding information about material defects — problems that may affect the sale — said Ethan Steele, a real estate attorney in Tucson.
“The duty is on the seller to let the buyer know about these defects,” he said.
But regardless of the type of problem, Steele said it’s best to err on the side of disclosure.
“It looks bad when you try to hide something,” he said.
Although they can be tricky, problem properties can be sold, and not at just at low-ball prices, Runyon said.
“We should not restrict ourselves to the belief that because something is wrong with the house, no one wants to buy the house,” he said.
And while a stigma might surround a property, there may be nothing wrong with it.
“Every community has its share of rumors,” he said. “Sometimes the rumors are much worse than the crime was.”