Selling Advice

Death and Disclosure When Selling Hawaii Real Estate

Every state in the nation requires full disclosure of material facts. The requirement in the State of Hawai`i applies only to residential properties. A buyer is entitled to information regarding things that might affect the value of the property or influence a buyer’s decision to move forward with a purchase. Interestingly, disclosure is not required but is encouraged for vacant land and commercial sales.

Required Disclosures

When completed, the standard disclosure provides answers to a series of questions related to current and past property conditions, health and safety issues, permit status, and issues related to the quiet enjoyment of the property. Military activities, excessive noise, nightclubs, rifle ranges, racetracks, barking dogs, and the like must be disclosed.

Requirements to report notorious incidents, however, may be subject to interpretation. The term “notorious” normally brings to mind a situation related to a death on the property. Such incidents can seriously affect the value and marketability of the property and yet, state law does not require disclosure of a natural death on the property. It’s the circumstance of the death that triggers the disclosure. While a suicide on the property may not be considered notorious, a homicide probably would be.

Optional Disclosures

I always advise Sellers to disclose any death on the property. Many cultures in Hawai`i are very sensitive to this issue. If nothing else, such notice allows the buyer to have the property blessed prior to moving in. Buyers routinely visit with neighbors during the purchase process. The neighbors want to be helpful and will openly share all sorts of information with their future neighbors.

Non-disclosure may give the buyer the impression that the seller might be inclined to omit other information as well. With so many elderly homeowners opting to spend their last days in the comfort of their own home, natural deaths are a fairly common disclosure. Sharing your concerns about this issue ahead of time provides an important bit of information that will really help your agent locate your perfect piece of paradise!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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Tracy S Stice

April 22, 2021

Thank you Denise, this is very helpful and very true. Natural deaths are acceptable to most cultures, but I have had disclosure of a natural death stop a transaction before. You point of the neighborhood ” coconut wireless ” is the most important point. Buyers do talk with neighbors in advance of a purchase to get the ” down low ” on the potential purchase. This is human nature. If you seller client chooses to withhold this type of information perhaps you should remind them of how they might feel if they were informed by a neighbor of a natural death. This immediately opens up suspicion as to other facts that may have been omitted in the disclosure.

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