Skeleton Disclosure

December 1, 2020

- By Catherine Taylor

If the walls could talk, what would they say? What about the foundation? With some of the oldest housing stock in the country, Massachusetts homeowners have made some interesting discoveries when remodeling their homes. Recently, while doing demolition work at a Winchester home, contractors unearthed multiple human skeletal remains. Thankfully, the unearthed skeletons appear to be over a century old, but what will that homeowner have to disclose to future prospective buyers about the skeletons?  

Massachusetts laws require REALTORS® to disclose known physical defects to prospective buyers. This obligation to disclose does not apply to things that psychologically impact the property: murders, suicides, paranormal phenomenon, and other psychological stigmas. If a REALTOR® receives an inquiry from a prospective buyer related to a stigma, the REALTOR® must answer honestly and to the best of their knowledge, but REALTORS® do not have a duty to investigate stigmas, even if specifically asked about them by prospective buyers. So, unless a prospective buyer asks, those skeletons can stay in the closet.