Main Line Homes Blog


PA Supreme court makes very clear ruling on murder suicide disclosure

PA Supreme Court makes very clear ruling on murder suicide disclosure.

ScalesA very high profile case has made its way through the PA court system resulting in a very clear ruling on whether murder suicide needs to be disclosed as a material defect, which is NO, it does not.

The case Milliken v Jacono resulted when soon after moving in the buyers were told the house was the center of a highly publicized murder suicide by a neighbor.

After several rounds of the case moving through the courts and several appeals the case ended up in the Supreme Court, who were willing to hear parts of the case but not in relation to the violation of the Sellers' Disclosure law, thus upholding that the law does not require sellers to disclose a murder suicide.

The PAR Sellers Disclosure Form actually goes beyond what the state requires for sellers to dislcose, and the court said that just because it does this  it does not create additional mandatory disclosure requirements. Also the court was not willing to consider that something that was a psychological stigma consituted a material defect and even if it did how would a court decide the impact this  might have financially.

The court said that this sort of event did not affect the "structure" of the house nor do they affect the quality of the real estate.

As far as buyers agents are concerned, the court said it was not a latent defect and the buyer still needed to do their own due diligence to discover if the house met their needs. The murder suicide was a highly publicized event covered in the local media and well known throught the neighborhood.

Now how about ghosts and haunted houses?

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Comment balloon 5 commentsNick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 • July 22 2014 12:48PM


Thanks for this info. Had a discussion this week about disclosure and suicide came up.

In light of the fact that there are buyers who are phobic about a house with deaths attached, it is good to know the courts clear agents of responsibility to disclose this.


Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA (Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty) almost 5 years ago

I rented a condo in Waikiki in the mid-70s at a GREATLY reduced rate because there had been a murder in it a year earlier....condo had been re-done and had a beautiful view.....I lived there for over a year....

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) almost 5 years ago

Wallace everyone feels different about it, but as the court said how do you put a value on that. Glad you got to have such a great view for the time you lived there. 

John, not sure how the Florida court rules but at least in PA we know where we stand as agents. As the attorneys say though if in doubt disclose.

Posted by Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) almost 5 years ago

I wonder if the court would agree a ghost present in the home must be disclosed?  It brings up stigmas and beliefs that are held strongly by some, and thought crazy by others.  Glad the court offered a clear direction for agents.

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) almost 5 years ago

John I guess it is like the murder suicide, it does not affect the structure of the home, so most likley does not need to be disclosed and how would you calculate any loss of value because of it. some people may pay more for a haunted house.

Posted by Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) almost 5 years ago

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