A New Jersey Appellate Court has ordered two Real Estate Agents to stand trial for failing to tell the buyers of a $2.3 Million home that its elevator was the scene of a deadly accident.
The suit claims that the homebuyers were unaware until six days after closing on the Colts Neck property that two girls, ages 7 and 6, were killed in 2002 when they were pinned between the elevator’s shaft and the cab. The buyers claim that their agent and the seller’s agent, both knew about the accident but said nothing about it.
The appeals court refused to dismiss claims against the Real Estate agents because they failed to mention to the home buyer the accident when one of the buyers asked if the elevator was safe. The elevator accident was subject to disclosure because it constituted both material information about the physical condition of the property and a “psychological impairment,” akin to a murder or suicide occurring in the home.
Under section 11:5-6.4(b) of the New Jersey Administrative Code, a licensed Real Estate Agent must make a reasonable effort to ascertain the physical condition of a property for which he or she markets or serves as a transaction broker. This regulation requires the agent to disclose all information material to the property’s physical condition that they know, and to disclose it to their client or any other party when appropriate.
A psychological impairment, which may include a purported haunted house, need not be automatically disclosed. The regulation does require that the agent(s) disclose everything they know about the psychological impairment if the prospective buyer asks.
The appeals court stated that the Real Estate agents misapprehended both the nature of the condition and their duties to the plaintiffs.
Buyers and sellers of homes rely on their real estate agent(s) to assist them in making the best possible decision. Buying and selling real estate is stressful for both parties, but everyone should know the facts when buying or selling a home.