Today we will continue our discussion of the contract of sales with a focus on duty to disclose defects and the merger doctrine. The lecture notes are here.
Here is the Texas form listing all the required disclosures.
The New York Times and Atlas Obscura have good articles about the Haunted House.
The Times writes:
The phones have been ringing at real-estate offices in Rockland County. A patient in a psychiatric hospital called. So did a para-psychologist from Florida. And so did the Amazing Kreskin, all the way from his hotel room in Atlantic City.
That turreted turn-of-the-century Victorian house in Nyack is back on the market – the one that the owner says has not one, not two, but three ghosts. The one that was the subject of a court ruling last week.
There was nothing creepy about Justice Edward H. Lehner’s decision in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. He found that a would-be buyer, Jeffrey M. Stambovsky, could not back out of a $650,000 contract on the three-story clapboard house without losing his $32,500 down payment on it.
Mr. Stambovsky, who acknowledges that the contract expired after he skipped a scheduled closing last fall, had argued that no one warned him about any preternatural residents who, presumably, would not comply with ordinary eviction orders.
As for whether he will see the ghosts in Nyack – in 22 years, the owner, Helen V. Ackley, has seen only one.
”He was sitting in midair, watching me paint the ceiling in the living room, rocking and back forth,” she said. ”I was on an 8-foot stepladder. I asked if he approved of what we were doing to the house, if the colors were to his liking. He smiled and he nodded his head.”
Mrs. Ackley said one of the other ghosts would waltz into her daughter’s bedroom. ”We don’t know whether or not she was the one who woke the children up by shaking the bed,” she said.
Ghost No. 3 was a Navy lieutenant during the American Revolution. ”My son saw him eyeball to eyeball outside the basement door,” Mrs. Ackley said.
Atlas Obscura writes:
During the 1960s, the 7,000 residents of the tiny village knew that the 5,000 square foot house was haunted, but nobody bothered to tell the Ackley couple before they decided to move in.
Helen and George Ackley, who lived in the home for more than 20 years, reported that they had seen a ghost in the house on at least one occasion and that they would be awoken every morning by a shaking bed, but otherwise lived in peace with whatever spirits resided in their home. When they decided to move and sold the house in 1990, they didn’t bother to tell the new buyers about the ghost problem.
With $32,500 in escrow, Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky backed out of the contract when they learned that the house was haunted. When the Ackleys refused to refund the deposit, the Stambovskys sued, leading to what would come to be known as the “Ghostbusters” ruling. The New York Appellate court ruled that, because a routine home inspection would never uncover it, sellers must disclose that a house is haunted to potential buyers.
Here is a Google Map of the haunted house:
There was at least one Texan who wanted a lease voided because the house was haunted. In some cases, a haunted house may actually increase the property value. Recently the Pennslyvania Supreme Court found that there was no duty for sellers to disclose there was a murder-suicide in the house. Also, the ABA Journal asks if spirits, slayings are “material defects.”