Spooks and spirits…disclosing a death at a property

spooky house

By Carl Horst, OAR Director of Publications/Media Relations

Today is the annual celebration of spooks and spirits, when children run from door-to-door begging for treats at the risk of a trick. It’s the one day when, for most, the macabre becomes fun.

While the appeal of the paranormal typically dissipates once the calendar turns to November, a website launched a year ago is trying to tap the curiosity of would-be buyers and renters interested in knowing if anyone has ever died in the property.

Diedinhouse.com bills itself as “the first of its kind, web-based service that helps you find out if anyone has died at any valid US address.” With pricing starting at $14,95, users can discover if there’s been a death at the property, the name and information of the deceased and even possibly the cause of death.

So does a death that occurred in the property have to be disclosed? This is actually one of the more frequent questions that come into the OAR Legal Hotline according to Peg Ritenour, the association’s chief legal counsel. The short answer — at least in the case of a murder or suicide — is that it’s probably prudent for an agent to err on the side of caution and disclose, but that consent from the seller is necessary.

Ritenour explains in a previous OAR Daily Buzz post:

In Ohio, there is no statutory provision that mandates disclosure of such an event on a property. However the seller and their listing agent clearly have an obligation under Ohio case law to disclose any fact of which they have knowledge that could be material to the buyer’s decision to purchase the property. In the case of a murder or suicide, although such an event wouldn’t constitute a latent defect affecting the physical condition of the property, it could be considered to be a material fact to some buyers.

Click here for Ritenour’s advice on how to properly handle the disclosure of murder or suicide.

Tags: legal

Coaching Corner: Are you tricking or treating?

By “Coach” Marilou Butcher Roth

How cool is this? My blog post on Halloween! Tonight, despite cold and possibly damp weather, hundreds of children, big and small will be arriving at doorsteps across America to collect a variety of tasty treats. These trick-or-treaters will come with the expectation that they will be met at the door with candy du jour….and, their expectations will be met without question!

How do you handle your expectations? Imagine there is an upcoming event that is important to you. Perhaps you are meeting a potential client that has the possibility of bringing you a substantial amount of business. Where does your mind go? How might you be defeating yourself mentally, much before the actual event occurs? Does your self doubt creep in, creating a scenario where you have convinced yourself that surely this client would want to choose someone else to work with? This can easily happen to each of us!

When you are anticipating an event like this or even just an upcoming conversation that is important to you, check in with yourself and see what type of self talk is rambling around in your head. Notice how you might be generating something entirely different than what you want to see happen. It’s OK! Just notice! Once you have, you can begin to mentally and physically move yourself to a different place.

Try this — mentally, imagine the scene in your head and how you want it to go, noticing how you feel when you do this. If you feel good, keep going. If it seems to generate some angst, back off and go more general in what you are imagining so that you can get yourself to a good feeling space. You can also try writing out how you would like to see this event. Handle writing in the same way — keep going if it feels good and go more general if it doesn’t.

Once you get yourself to a place that feels good to you, ask yourself what you might need to have in place to get ready for this meeting. Is there research you need to do? Anyone you might need to talk to in order to gather other information?

Lining up your thoughts first will initiate more inspired action steps for you and allow the whole process to go smoother. You are setting your expectations rather than living by default. This process can be used for anything and is great fun once you get it rolling!

So don’t trick yourself by letting your mind wander — treat yourself to an easier, more productive and fun way to handle your expectations!

Have a Bootiful Halloween!


Marilou Butcher Roth is the owner of The MBR Group, a coaching and training company working primarily with REALTORS who have a desire to work and live from a more inspired place. She is also the Broker/Owner of Group REALTORS in Cincinnati.

Marilou is a member of the OAR Executive Committee and immediate past chairman of the organization’s Communications Committee. Feel free to contact Marilou to see if coaching is right for you: Marilou@mbr-group.com


Tags: Coaching Corner, training

Ohio Safety Series: Have a distress code

think safety

Over the past 10-plus years hundreds of real estate professionals throughout the country have been murdered, violently assaulted, raped, beaten and robbed in the workplace. In fact, tragedy hit close to home four years ago when two of our own — Vivian Martin and Andrew VonStein — were killed in separate incidents on back-to-back days when showing vacant homes. More recently, the industry was shocked by the tragic, unfortunate murder of an Arkansas REALTOR who was similarly killed doing what a real estate professional does — simply showing a home. These incidents illustrate the importance of taking safety precautions in your daily activities. Our Ohio Safety Series is an ongoing effort to provide you with insights to ensure the safety of you and your clients.

Have a prearranged distress signal: “I’m at the Jones house and I need the red file right away.”

You may be in a situation where you think you might need help; you can use the phone, but the person you with can overhear the conversation and you do not want to alarm him/her. There is were a prearranged distress code can help.

For example, you are in your car with a client that is beginning to make you nervous — for one reason or another, you feel uneasy about the person. You do not want to be in an empty house with him/her. Call the office and tell someone where you are going and ask him/her to pull out the RED FILE. In this case, RED FILE is a prearranged distress code to have someone meet you at the site so you will not be alone. You can make up your own distress code, i.e. DOG FOOD (when you don’t have a dog) or I’m going to MAYDAY Lane (and there is no Mayday Lane).

The distress code should be used if you are uneasy, but do not feel you are in danger. If you are in immediate danger — stop the car and leave the area, or jump out of the car at the next stop. Do not hesitate to call 911.

Authorities agree that most rapists and thieves are looking for easy targets. Be assertive and leave a dangerous situation early, but have a distress code for time you feel uneasy.

Don’t forget to share and practice your distress code with your office, colleagues, family and friends.

Tags: Ohio Safety Series, safety

The People Revolution: Purpose before technology

Real estate visionary Chris Smith explains to Ohio’s REALTORS that technology is amazing…but that it must have a purpose and direction in order to be effective. This clip — taken from Smith’s keynote at the OAR Annual Convention & EXPO — details the importance of knowing what you want to deliver with your technology, rather than just offer the latest and greatest. Click here to see other episodes of Smith’s “peoplework” principles.

Tags: People Revolution

Ohio Market Watch: Job security still an issue for some

By Greg Stitz, OAR Director of Research

Less than half (40 percent) of Ohio REALTORS believe a lack of job security is negatively affecting the current housing market in their area, according to the results of an October Ohio REALTOR housing confidence survey. Among those citing concerns, 7 percent report it is negatively affecting the housing market “a lot” and 33 percent report a lack of job security is affecting the housing market “somewhat.” For 44 percent of respondents a lack of job security is not an issue in their area and 16 percent report job security is having a positive effect on the market in their area.


Survey results are based on responses to a monthly survey, designed to capture the effects of the existing economic conditions and trends on the real estate industry, sent to a pool of 1,500 OAR participants. Click here to participate in future OAR Housing Confidence Surveys.

Tags: Ohio Market Watch, research

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