We have a law here in Minnesota that says that sellers need to disclose what they know about their property. We have a form for it. The form gets longer each year. We are now up to nine pages. It really is best for seller not to hide anything and to give as much information as possible. Buyers need to know what they are buying and hiding a defect can cause all kinds of problems not to mention legal action from the buyers.
There are some things on our disclosures that no one really notices. Here are a couple that I like to point out to sellers.
Sellers are asked if there are any human remains burials or cemeteries located on the property. As an urban Realtor this one is a little hard for me to imagine. I think that if someone has human remains buried in their postage stamp sized city lot it is likely that a crime was committed. It is a felony for the seller or buyer to remove the remains so there really isn't a do over or a second chance on that one. In general I don't think it is a good idea to bury anyone in your back yard. If you must bury them at least disclose that they are there.
The other defects/material facts section on the disclosure is a tough one. It asks sellers to list any material facts that could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary buyer's use or enjoyment of the property. It would not be so bad if they would define "ordinary buyer". I work with many buyers and I have no idea what an ordinary buyer is. The phrase "could adversely and significantly affect" is also a bit vague. As a home owner I don't have a clue as to what an ordinary buyer is or what might impact their enjoyment of the property.
Apparently an ordinary buyer is not adversely or significantly affected by a death, murder or suicide on the property because the state has decided that such information does not have to be disclosed. So if there is a house that has had 5 owners in five years and in each case a family member who has lived in the house committed suicide in it and then killed another family member it does not have to be disclosed
The fact that the house is haunted does not have to be disclosed either. I often wonder how the ordinary buyer would be affected if they bought a haunted house, would the it significantly and adversely affect the buyers use or enjoyment of the property? If so doesn't the seller have to disclose it?
There are people who have religious beliefs that would require a home to be spiritually purified if someone died in it. Having religious beliefs is fairly common, I think it may be classified as "ordinary". If I were a buyer who wanted to know if someone had died on the property I would ask the seller. There doesn't seem to be a law against that and there isn't a law against the seller answering the question.
I am not a lawyer and it isn't my job to interpret any of these laws or rules. It is my job to let sellers know that they need to disclose and I help them through the process. I had some sellers lie to me once in a pretty serious way and I canceled my contract with them. So far none have admitted to having human remains buried in the back yard. I strongly encourage buyers to look for defects and to have a complete home inspection done by a professional. Most sellers are honest but some are not and sometimes they really are unaware of a problem that a buyer would want to know about.