Do Backyard Burials Detract from Property Value?

What if you purchased a home and after doing a bit of landscaping, found out that the previous owners had buried their family pet in the backyard? Unsettling, yes. But a reason to move, or even wonder if your property value is lowered because of it? Well that may be a bit of an overreaction. But what about when the backyard burial isn’t a pet, but a person? That’s the case one Toronto homeowner just found himself in the middle of after buying a home with plans to demolish it and rebuild.

The buyer, who’s been nicknamed “Jason” to avoid any further stigmatization, recently purchased a home within the GTA and was about to carry out his demolition plans when a concerned neighbour came over to speak to him about the home’s history. It seemed as though previously, a couple had lived in the home together and the husband had passed away. The wife had him cremated and then had his ashes buried on the home’s property.

Curious, Jason dug up the remains, found the plastic bag, and immediately began to wonder what he was to do with them. The woman who had buried them originally had dementia and couldn’t communicate about the ashes. The two sons of the couple had no desire to come and pick up their father’s ashes. The neighbour who had pointed them out in the first place eventually ended up taking them off Jason’s hands.

But still, he wondered. What if a future buyer were to find out that the property had once been used for burial? Would it stigmatize the property?

Stigmatization of a property is very serious in the real estate biz. It can greatly impact the sale of a home, and can even cause it to fall through. Things like murders, robberies, and suicides on the property are all stigmatizing factors, and none of them are required by law in Ontario to be disclosed at the time of the purchase. However, RECO says differently.

RECO is the Real Estate Council of Ontario, and they require their real estate agents to disclose any and all information that they know about. If they’re not aware of it however, they’re of course not required to disclose any of it.

But that doesn’t mean that upon finding the remains, they cannot be removed (and in fact, they probably should) once the previous owners have left. Now that real estate agents know about it in this particular case, they are now required to report it, which could impact the future sale of a home that’s now yours.