Interesting Article – I thought I would share it.

Would you buy a house where someone was murdered?

Welcome to 934 Ossington Ave. Though the lavish five-bedroom house may well be worth the asking price of $949,000, it has languished on the market despite multiple attempts to sell it over the past 15 months. That’s an eternity in Toronto, where detached homes near the subway often sell within days in frenzied bidding wars.
It could be, as the agent who listed the property for sale most recently suggests, a combination of unlucky factors. Or, it could be one big deal-breaker: the fact that a man was murdered in the house two years ago.

The crime puts the grand old residence squarely in the category real estate agents call “stigmatized properties,” a blanket term used to describe homes with unfortunate histories that could affect their market potential. Would you buy a house that was once a marijuana grow-op? A meth lab? A crack house? The site of a horrific murder or suicide?
Death, in particular, tends to make buyers uncomfortable. Even though some people scoff at superstitious fears — after all, isn’t it possible many of Toronto’s 100-year-old homes have eerie pasts we just don’t know about? — the potential impact on resale value may scare away the folks who otherwise wouldn’t care. Barry Lebow, a veteran real estate appraiser, says stigmatized properties nearly always sell for less than they would have without the stigma. And therein lies the reason some folks go for them: “To get a bit of a deal,” Lebow says.
Now that’s an uncomfortable truth to ponder: you can probably get a discount on a house if someone has been murdered in it.

The house where Allan Lanteigne was killed in March 2011 sits on a busy stretch of Ossington Ave. a few blocks northwest of Christie Pits Park. Police have released few details since the University of Toronto accounting clerk was found dead, but it is believed he was beaten to death.

Lanteigne had been living in the house since 2006, two years after he married Demitry Papasotiriou, a Greece-born Toronto lawyer. Papasotiriou, 33, co-owns the property with his aunt and uncle, who live in Manitoba. At the time of the murder, Lanteigne was living alone at the house. Papasotiriou had moved to Europe. According to friends and police, they were estranged.

Last November, more than a year and a half after Lanteigne’s death, police charged Papasotiriou with first-degree murder. Soon after, his business associate, Mladen “Michael” Ivezic, 52, was also charged with murder. Police have said Papasotiriou was in Europe at the time of the killing.
All of this came as a shock to Karin Horvath, a Toronto real estate agent who was the first to list the Ossington Ave. residence for sale in November 2011, eight months after the murder and a full year before her client, Papasotiriou, was charged.

Papasotiriou was still living in Europe when he and his aunt and uncle decided to list the property with Horvath. Before taking it on, Horvath did a Google search of the address to see if anything unusual came up. The murder was one of the first results. Horvath said Papasotiriou told her the victim was a tenant about whom he knew little. She said she had no idea he was actually married to Lanteigne.

In Ontario, realtors are required under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act to disclose any “material fact” that could affect the value of a property, including a murder, suicide or suspicious death. When Horvath told Papasotiriou back in November 2011 that she would have to reveal the home’s history to any potential buyers, she says he challenged her.

“He did not want to disclose the information because he didn’t want to bring the home value down,” the agent said in an interview.

Papasotiriou sent emails to the Toronto Real Estate Board, asking for clarification. In the end, he agreed to disclose. “I wouldn’t have taken the listing otherwise,” the agent said.
By the end of Horvath’s three-month agreement with Papasotiriou and his family, the house had not sold. At the time, no arrests had been made in the homicide case, which Horvath believes made it an even tougher sell. “It comes with a stigma,” she said, “and rightfully so.”

Sanctions for agents who don’t disclose material facts can range from warnings to major fines, suspensions or licence revocation. And then, as recent cases have shown, there is also the possibility of a civil suit.
In Bowmanville last year, a couple sued a broker and the people from whom they had purchased a home after they found out it had been the scene of a horrific double murder 15 years earlier. If the claim proceeds to trial, it could become a buyer-beware test case that would bring much-needed clarity to what is now a legal grey area. Though many U.S. states and the province of Quebec have laws that govern how and when a murder must be disclosed to a potential homebuyer, in Ontario there is only the very vague realtor’s code of conduct.
Many U.S. states require disclosure if a death has occurred within a finite period of three years. The Ontario realtor’s code sets no statute of limitations, which technically means that if an agent knows about a murder that happened in a house a hundred years ago, they have to disclose.

Lebow, who often testifies in court as an expert witness and has taught classes on property stigma, thinks this is ridiculous. He also believes it unfair that the onus to disclose rests on the agent instead of the property owner. What is an agent supposed to do if a client doesn’t fess up about a home’s history?
“A real estate agent shouldn’t have to play real estate detective,” he says.

One day last week, a middle-aged woman wearing a long fur coat parked a luxury car with a Manitoba plate at the curb outside 934 Ossington Ave. and went inside to retrieve a few small cardboard boxes. When approached, the woman declined to discuss the sale of the property or confirm whether she is one of the owners.
By the end of this week, 934 Ossington Ave. was still on the market.

Jackie Carron had better luck recently with a brick bungalow in Scarborough. The Toronto agent listed the Marsh Rd. property late last year for $379,900 with a note in the “broker’s remarks” section asking agents to phone her before registering offers.
When they did, Carron disclosed the uncomfortable facts: Anna Karissa Grandine drowned in the bathtub of the home in October 2011. The 30-year-old was five months pregnant at the time. Her pastor husband, Philip Grandine, was later charged with first-degree murder and is awaiting trial.

“It would have sold in days if not for the history,” Carron said. “It was definitely an issue for some people.”
Agents for five potential buyers phoned Carron to discuss the possibility of registering an offer and then backed out. Still, after only a month or so on the market, the house sold for $370,500 — fairly close to asking price.
Several agents consulted for this article said the real problem with the Ossington house is that it’s overpriced and, if it didn’t sell for $950,000 last year, it’s not likely to fetch that now.

Toronto real estate agent Tony Domingues, who listed the property for sale on Feb. 2, believes it is worth what the sellers are asking and says they’ve had a lot of showings in the past couple of weeks. At this point, he said, disclosure isn’t even really an issue because most agents are familiar with the property’s history by now.
“You Google the house, everything is there,” he said. “Everybody knows. It’s no secret.”
The agent said he’s confident the house will draw a buyer, particularly since spring market momentum appears to be building already.
“I’ll be honest,” he said. “Everything sells in Toronto.”
On that, he and Lebow agree. “No matter how bad things are, I would suggest there is always a buyer,” the appraiser said — “Minus the house that’s falling over the Scarborough Bluffs.”

OREA wants a Grow-Op Registry – I agree !

OREA renews call for grow-op registry – taken from REM Magazine.  I have also added my opinions in red.  🙂

Front Page Jan 7, 2013 – Ninety-six per cent of Ottawa residents agree they want to know if the home they’re planning on purchasing was formerly used as a marijuana grow-op (MGO) or clandestine drug lab, according to a study by Ipsos Reid for the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).  I absolutely agree that this should be disclosed to any potential buyer even years after the fact. 

The poll found that almost one in four (24 per cent) of Ottawans report seeing or knowing of homes in their neighbourhood that have been used as MGOs or drug labs.  Whenever buying a home, it is always a good idea to talk to the neighbours, (you would be surprised what they know about what is going on in the neighbourhood) and also do a couple drive-bys.

“The prevalence of these homes in Ottawa is quite frankly, alarming,” says Pat Verge, an Ottawa area Realtor and member of OREA’s Board of Directors. “Homes used as grow ops and/or clandestine labs pose significant health and safety risks to individuals, families, and communities all over the province.” Agree again.  The health issues are significant.  Mould certificates must be obtained and alot of mortgage companies do not want to mortgage these homes.

Locally, the City of Ottawa approved a recent bylaw regarding the prohibition, inspection and remediation of former marijuana grow-ops. The bylaw mandates the registration of work orders on the title of a property used as a former grow op. The bylaw would allow home buyers to find out if the property was a former MGO by doing a title search before they complete the purchase.  Great idea !

Verge says: “Eighty eight per cent of Ontarians support the creation of a province-wide registry of former MGOs and clandestine labs. As consumers they have the right to know anything and everything about the home that they are planning on purchasing – especially when not knowing could put themselves and their family at serious risk.”   This is no different than disclosing a murder or a suicide in a home.  Buyers are ENTITLED to know the history about the home they are purchasing.  Always GOOGLE the address as well before you do an offer.  Sometimes you will be surprised what you will find out.

Exposure to mould and toxins associated with MGOs and clandestine drug labs can cause serious health problems, including allergic (immunological) reactions, toxic effects and infection. Toronto Public Health says that MGOs are distinct from typical types of premises contaminated with mould in that they have been used for criminal activities that may have resulted in the creation of environmental hazards, as well as electrical and structural hazards. The potential presence of known hazardous, toxic and flammable substances associated with clandestine labs presents an immediate and continuing risk to anyone exposed to these substances, says Toronto Public Health.

This is a great article.  I hope OREA is successful with this registry and I will defnitely be on board.  This is one reason it is important to hire a fulltime professional Realtor to represent your best interests and do their due diligence … I have NEVER seen anyone I have listed or sold a house to that I would be embarassed to walk up to in a store or mall or wherever and catch up !  Why?  Because I always treat my clients like I would want to be treated.  Integrity !!!  Honesty !!!  It is the only way to do business.  If you have any questions about real estate, feel free anytime to contact me.   Have a super day !  Cheers xo

Buying a home – Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure

Buying a home: Dealing with the death house stigma

It seems every so often, Realtors come up with an issue about disclosure?  Should they have told their buyer about the suicide, the death, the dump, the sewage plant, the grow home, etc.   These things adversely affect the sale of a home in my opinion. 

After lengthy discussions with my Manager at the office, the rule should go something like this:  If you have to ask yourself, should I disclose this??   Chances are you should !!!  I would rather lose a sale and be honest and upfront than hide something.  Clients are putting their trust in you to find them their “Dream Home”, don’t let them down.  Show your worth and your professionalism and do the right thing !  Sometimes the right thing is not the easy thing but it will pay you back ten fold in the long run.

So further to that, I want to share with you this article published by Mark Weisleder;
Written By:  Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at mark@markweisleder.com

In November the Toronto Star reported that a Bowmanville couple is suing their real estate agent and the people from whom they bought their house for not disclosing that there had been a double murder there 15 years earlier — including that of a 6-year-old girl.

Two years ago in Orangeville, a homebuyer was able to get out of his deal after learning that the house was owned by a nurse who had been murdered nearby.

These cases, and others like it, raise interesting legal issues about what should or shouldn’t be disclosed when a house is sold. Should sellers be required to say that there has been a murder or suicide in the house? If yes, how far back should you go? One year, five years, 10 years? About half of American states require disclosure if the death happened within three years. In Canada, there are no laws governing these situations.

For buyers and sellers, the question is whether disclosing this information will affect the value of the property. Toronto real estate agent and appraiser Barry Lebow believes it does.

Lebow, who has 45 years in the business including giving expert evidence on property stigmas, says a “death house” carries a stigma that will almost always negatively affect its value. In many cases, the home has to be demolished and the address changed. In other cases, even if it does not bother a current buyer, it will bother a future buyer when they try and sell it later.

In 1974, Hungarian-born real estate developer Peter Demeter was convicted of arranging the murder of his wife at their Mississauga home. He later couldn’t sell the home so he arranged for someone to burn it down in 1983. He was later convicted of arson. Not a good plan.

The home on Bayview Ave. in St. Catharines that Paul Bernardo used to commit his sexual assaults and tortures was later demolished. The new home built there was given a different street address, to further distance it from what had occurred in the past.

In Lebow’s opinion if you live near a murder house, the stigma will typically not affect the value of neighbouring properties. But even so, what goes on next door can be an issue.

In a 1998 case from Kelowna, B. C., Ron and Marlene Allen made an offer to buy a beachfront house. They asked the sellers, Ken and Dorothy Summach about the empty lot next door. The Summachs said it was a public beach, neglecting to say it was a nude beach.

The Allens refused to close. Now some might think a nude beach would add value to the home, but the Allens didn’t. Five years later, the B.C. Court of Appeal decided the Summach’s did not need to disclose that fact, as the ‘defect’ was not occurring on their property.

A little closer to the GTA, a couple with two young children bought a home in Bracebridge. The sellers did not disclose that the house across the street was owned by a man convicted of possessing child pornography. The buyers sued and the sellers brought a motion to have the case thrown out. They argued they weren’t under an obligation to disclose the fact.

In a decision dated March 3, 2010, Judge Alexandra Hoy let the suit go ahead. She said:

“The buyers’ claim is novel. And it raises policy issues, including the protection of children and whether, if successful, the claim will have the effect of making the re-integration of persons convicted of certain crimes into society more difficult.”

The buyers never moved in. They subsequently resold the home at a loss and settled the case out of court with the sellers. So we will not learn what the final decision might have been.

In Ontario, real estate agents must disclose any material fact that they are aware of under the rules of their Code of Ethics. In my opinion this includes whether a murder or suicide had occurred on the property and could also include certain neighbourhood conditions.

Buyers can always Google the property address which will likely turn up articles about prior violent crimes. Before you buy, you can always tour the neighbourhood, speak to people and ask questions about the home. In addition, put a clause in your offer where the seller states that they are not aware of any murder or suicide ever being committed on the property in the past. If sellers are asked, they must respond truthfully.

It is time for government to give guidance on what stigmas need to be disclosed, so that buyers, sellers and real estate agents are better prepared for this very difficult issue when buying or selling a home.

If you are looking to buy a home in the future, find an agent that will WORK for your BEST interests and protect your investment and your future.  Choose wisely !  If I can assist you or if you would like to meet with me and discuss your real estate needs, I am always available for a chat.  No obligation.  Looking forward to a great 2013 and remember, do the right thing, not the easy thing !  On that note, have a super day !!!  Cheers xo