This is a topic that comes up from time-to-time as Realtors work with buyers. What is a “stigma”?

In the context of real estate, a stigma is a non-physical, intangible attribute of a property that may elicit a psychological or emotional response on the part of the potential buyer. There may have been an event or circumstance that occurred in or near the property that does not affect the property use or appearance, but might be considered by someone to be emotionally disquieting.


Examples might be the property was used for criminal activity, there was a murder or suicide occurred there, or even a natural death in the house; perhaps it was owned by a known criminal; it may have a reputation as being haunted; it may have been a grow-op house.


The relevance and impact of a potential stigma or any other such non-physical circumstance will be determined by a buyer’s personal values and perceptions, ethnic background, religion, gender, age or other concerns. Given all the possibilities that might exist for a given buyer to consider a property to be stigmatized, it is impossible for a Realtor to determine in advance what these might be. Communication is the key­­­.


If you have concerns of this nature when buying a home, be sure to advise your agent prior to beginning your home search. It is too late after you have an agreed upon purchase agreement to discover you don’t want to live there because of a stigmatization.


Just one caution though. The current owner may not be aware of any of the details about previous owners and no one can be blamed in that case.


Submitted by: Jim McLachlin, Broker


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