My Home is a Pokémon Go Hotspot — Do I Have to Disclose?

Disclosure by Simon Offord, Esq.

Pokémon Go is the latest craze that is literally everywhere we look. It is all over the news, and all over the streets with players of all ages trying to “catch ’em all.”  We have all heard about the stories of people falling, getting into car accidents, and even quitting their jobs to play full time, but does this game have any impact on real estate? Maybe, if you live in a house like this family’s:

In the article linked above, the family’s home had been labeled as a Pokémon “gym” (apparently churches and other public places are oftentimes identified as Pokémon gyms. This home was unique in that it was a former church, so the game considered it a gym).  Pokémon gyms appear to be quite a big attraction, as players can “train” their Pokémon for battle at such locations.

As a result, this home had substantial additional foot traffic as players showed up at all hours to train their Pokémon. There have been other stories in the news about homes close to parks or bodies of water having increased foot traffic. So, the question becomes, is this something you need to disclose?!

Under California law, a seller must disclose all material facts which affect the value, desirability and intended use of the property.

Is an increase in foot traffic something that materially affects the value of your home? To some owners, the answer is yes. The idea of having people congregating in your front yard or in front of your house at all hours is certainly less than ideal. Players could keep homeowners up at night or present a safety concern.   Imagine if you lived near a high school, but it was not so obvious to a purchaser that on Friday nights when the football games are played, this was the area everyone parked.  Would you disclose that?  A prudent seller would.

Now, the caveat to all this is if the condition is readily observable, a buyer should not be able to sue for closing a blind eye.  However, if I were buying a house, checking to see if it was a popular Pokémon Go site would be pretty low on my priority list, as I would not even know how to begin.

Obviously, we are not predicting a wave of Pokémon related disclosure issues being the new real estate legal trend. But this humorous situation is a great opportunity to remind our readers about how broad disclosure requirements may be. There is a reason the CAR and PRDS disclosure forms are upwards of 10 pages long (the statutorily required Transfer Disclosure Statement is three pages, and the “supplemental” disclosures which are commonly used are several more pages, depending on which set of forms you are using).  The issues contained therein are all things that should be disclosed to avoid the risk of a lawsuit.  Neighborhood conditions is certainly one such item.

If you ever need assistance in determining what should be disclosed, do not hesitate to reach out to us.  In the meantime, have fun playing Pokémon GO, but please do not play while driving, walking in the middle or the street, or riding your bike…

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