In this red-hot housing market, one Maryland house has sat for months despite being priced hundreds of thousands of dollars less than its estimated value.
Its dark past is likely to blame.
The 6,000-square-foot house in Potomac, at Glen Road and Twining Lane, was last listed at just over $1.1 million — nearly $400,000 less than its Zillow estimate.
In 1995, a painter’s assistant killed five people at the house. It’s one of Montgomery County’s most infamous crimes.
That detail is not in the listing, nor does it have to be, according to Matt Alegi, a real estate attorney with Shulman Rogers in Potomac, who has no connection to the house.
Alegi said sellers in Maryland must only disclose “latent defects of which they have actual knowledge,” which could cause “actual harm to a human being.” A giant hole in a hallway that’s covered up by a carpet, for instance, would be a latent defect, Alegi said.
He said listing agents or brokers, as well must as buyer’s agents or brokers, must disclose “material facts” — anything that might affect a buyer’s decision, or the terms of the offer they might make — “of which they knew or should have known.”
Maryland law has a carve-out, stating that a homicide, suicide, accidental death, natural death or felony does not count as a latent defect or a material fact, Alegi said.
For homebuyers who find that troubling, and who want to know whether one of those events has happened at a property, Alegi said, “Make sure your agent, your licensee, your representative expressly asks that question of the listing agent.” A seller or their agent doesn’t have to volunteer the information, but they can’t lie to cover it up either.
At the Twining Lane property, a potential buyer may be unaware of the house’s past, or simply unconcerned by it. The house is now listed as being under contract.