Court to decide if suicide counts as real estate flaw

According to a report in Göteborgs Posten, a court in western Sweden is set to rule as to whether an unreported suicide can be considered a hidden flaw in a real estate transaction.

The case involves a former vicarage in a small village in the southwestern Swedish county of Halland.

When a young couple purchased the property in 2006, parish officials neglected to inform them that a suicide had taken place on the premises in the late-1990s.

The couple tried to sell the property a year later and received an offer from an initial buyer of 1.9 million kronor ($295,000).

However, the buyer got cold feet after the suicide came up during the contract signing.

After the buyer came back with a new, lower offer 1.6 million kronor, the couple decided instead to look for another buyer.

With the help of a new real estate agent, and being sure to mention the suicide early in the purchase process, the couple found a second buyer shortly thereafter.

The property was finally sold last December for 1.8 million kronor, a price 100,000 kronor below what they had been offered by the original buyer before he learned about the suicide.

Now the couple is seeking damages from the parish that sold them the vicarage, demanding compensation for the 100,000 kronor drop in market value, and for 44,000 kronor to cover additional brokerage fees.

In the court documents, the couple claims that the unreported suicide is equivalent to an unreported physical flaw which hurt the resale value of the vicarage.

According to Swedish real estate regulations, sellers are obligated to disclose possible flaws during the purchase process that could affect a property’s market value.

If the Varberg district court rules that the suicide amounts to a “hidden flaw,” the parish may then be required to pay the requested damages.