Question: Last summer my daughter committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the family room of our Fountain Hills home. There was significant damage of $15,000 to our family room which required cleaning and repainting by a contractor hired and paid by our homeowner’s insurance company. Our real estate agent said that under Arizona law we do not have to disclose to a buyer of our home our daughter’s suicide, but that our home’s 5-year insurance claims history for the home is required to be disclosed per lines 157-161 of the standard AAR Purchase Contract. In other words, the buyer may learn of the $15,000 suicide cleanup cost from our insurance company, and the buyer may want to cancel the purchase of our home. Is there anything that we can do now to prevent a buyer from learning about our daughter’s suicide in the home?
Answer: First, you are correct that under Arizona law both the seller and real estate brokers in a sale of an Arizona home do not have to disclose to a buyer a suicide in the home. A.R.S. § 32-2156. Second, you are also correct that under the AAR Purchase Contract, lines 157-161, an insurance claims history for the past 5 years has to be furnished to the buyer by the insurance company or a consumer reporting agency, or even from you if there is no formal insurance claims history available. Bottom line: An insurance claims history must be furnished to the buyer. If the suicide is then disclosed to the buyer, the buyer generally has 5 days to cancel the transaction.
Note: In addition to suicide, A.R.S. § 32-2156 doesn’t require disclosure by the seller or the real estate brokers of other material adverse facts about a home, e.g., murder or other felony, AIDS/HIV, or registered sex offenders in the vicinity.