Content of the material
- Ask the Homeowner or Agent
- Do sellers have to disclose if someone died in the house?
- How do I find out if someone died in my house for free?
- Visit Your Countys Vital Records Office
- #3: Newspaper Archives and Local Gossip
- Why isnt it more prominent?
- In Most Cases, Its Not Required to Disclose Deaths
- Do some more research
- Inquire of your neighbors if anyone died in your home
- Finding Out If Someone Died In Your House The Fast Way
- How to check if someone has died in your house
- Ask the seller or your real estate agent
- Search the home’s address
- Research public records tied to the home’s address
- Search your community’s local news site
- Visit local community archives or genealogical societies
- Talk to neighbors
- Use online databases
- Why isn’t it easier to figure out?
Ask the Homeowner or Agent
If you’re considering buying or renting a house and want to know if someone died within the home, it doesn’t hurt to ask. In fact, some states require the seller to notify the buyer if someone has died within their home.
Take for example the State of California, which considers someone dying in a home within the past three years a material fact. The sellers are therefore obligated to disclose it to buyers if the death occurred in the past three years. Other states (like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona) do not consider death to be a material fact and don’t require it to be disclosed. Talk to a real estate agent to learn about your state’s laws on the matter.
Regardless of state law, you are still able to ask the seller (or listing agent) whether a death has occurred within the home. It’s not an absurd question to ask considering that the manner in which someone dies could reveal something about the home itself. What if the home’s location was a contributing factor in the previous occupant’s death? This could be the case if someone died in a home invasion because the home was located in an area with a lot of transient passerbys.
The bottom line is that asking doesn’t hurt! Owners probably won’t be eager to disclose what happened but it’s within your rights to ask. It is unlikely that they will lie about a death occurring on the property since they would be opening themselves up to a lawsuit in the future.
Do sellers have to disclose if someone died in the house?
Death at the Property In California, sellers must tell the buyer if a death in the home has occurred anytime in the past three years. If a buyer comes out and asks about a death that occurred at any time, even longer than three years ago, the seller is required to provide a truthful response.
How do I find out if someone died in my house for free?
Did Someone Die in My House? Free & Paid Ways to Find Out Ask the Homeowner or Agent. Search Address on Google. Search Historical Newspapers. Talk to Locals. Try DiedInHouse.com. The Power of Deduction. Conclusion: Does It Matter?.
Visit Your Countys Vital Records Office
Plain and simple, most death certificates list a place of death. Visit your county’s vital records office or website, and you can find listings of death certificates. From there, you can check if the address in question is on any of the certificates.
This information should be free, Supplee says, so be wary of websites that charge a fee, although they can be useful in sifting through large amounts of information for you. You can also visit your local library, where librarians should be able to assist with finding archival information such as newspaper clippings that might include an obituary with the address in question.
#3: Newspaper Archives and Local Gossip
Many deaths — especially those that occurred in suspicious circumstances — are reported in local newspapers.
You can always try searching online for reports or obituaries concerning the home, or look in the library for archived newspaper reports. Neighbors are also a good source of local gossip.
If you are brave enough to knock on doors and ask some fairly awkward questions, you may be able to find some helpful information.
Why isnt it more prominent?
While curiosity is almost universal, there is a reason that the majority of states do not require sellers to reveal deaths that occurred in the home. If an especially heinous killing occurs in residence, the property may be unnecessarily branded and devalued. However, if you are sincerely concerned that someone died in the home you are considering purchasing, conduct your investigation and speak with the neighbors.
In Most Cases, Its Not Required to Disclose Deaths
Laws around death disclosures vary state by state, but most states do not require sellers to disclose deaths of natural causes that took place in the home. It is only legally required to report these types of deaths in the states of Alaska, California, and South Dakota, and only for deaths that have occurred in the past three years, Elron says. In Georgia, disclosure is only required if the homebuyer asks (this also applies to landlords whose renters ask), Supplee says.
Real estate transactions use Caveat Emptor, which translates to “Buyer Beware,” meaning the responsibility is on the buyer to discover adverse material facts, says Florida-based home insurance specialist and licensed Realtor Robyn Flint.
“Legally speaking, Realtors are not typically required to disclose if a person has died in a home,” Flint says. While they are legally required to disclose foundation issues or a leaky roof, someone dying naturally inside a home falls outside the standard of adverse material facts, Flint says, reiterating that you should always check your state laws.
On the other hand, in most states, real estate agents must legally disclose if there has been a violent death or a highly publicized death on the property, Elron says. That’s in part because it can affect property values.
There’s an entire site dedicated to finding out if someone died in your house, aptly named DiedInHouse.com. This website was founded in 2013 to solve that very question. Each search (one per address) costs $11.99 and will also notify you if your property is stigmatized in any other way, like have been used as a meth lab or to house sex offenders.
The catch is that the website pulls information largely collected after 1980, meaning that you may have trouble obtaining information on deaths prior to that point. However, the website is legitimate and provides valuable information.
Out of curiosity, I shelled out the cash to run a report on my address.
DiedInHouse can’t find any verified deaths at my property. And apparently, my home wasn’t used to house a sex offender or meth operation – that’s good. However, they do include an interesting disclaimer when listing past residents:
This means that someone probably died at or near my home. Rest assured, I will update this article if and when I begin noticing any ghouls or spirits.
Overall, DiedInHouse provides a comprehensive amount of information about a home and those who are particularly fascinated about their home’s history will find it worth the price. Some may wish to remain willfully ignorant, though!
Looking for a free alternative to DiedInHouse? Try HouseCreep, which has a database of thousands of different stigmatized properties.
Do some more research
If a death was suspicious (or if a murder occurred), the local paper definitely wrote an article about it. Some quick googling can show you the recent history of the home. If you think a previous owner might have died in the home, you can cross-reference past owners of the property with local death records and/or obituaries. You can find a list of previous homeowners by visiting the county recorder’s office. You will be able to find death records in your local library and obituaries in newspaper archives (also often found at a local library).
Inquire of your neighbors if anyone died in your home
While it may feel awkward, if you’re genuinely concerned about someone dying in the house, it’s essential speaking with neighbors about the home’s past. If they’ve lived in the region for a time, they’re likely to be familiar with the home’s history. Bear in mind that neighbors have a wealth of knowledge, so team up with them and acquire answers.
Finding Out If Someone Died In Your House The Fast Way
The fastest way to find out if someone died in a house is to pay a small fee to a company like DiedInHouse.com to run a check.
Most of the free methods you can use to determine your potential home’s morbid history will be time-consuming or unreliable. This is why it often makes sense to look it up online through a professional service.
How to check if someone has died in your houseWhether you live in a state that requires the disclosure of previous deaths in a house, there are several ways you can go about finding out the answer yourself.
Ask the seller or your real estate agentOne way to find out whether someone has died in your home is simply to ask the real estate agent or seller. Depending on your state, the realtor may or may not be required to tell you, but you’ll never know until you try.
Search the home’s addressEntering a prospective home’s address in a search engine is a simple but effective first step to finding out if something notable has occurred in the house. This doesn’t have to be a death, but there could be other events that are worth knowing about, like certain crimes or house fires.
Research public records tied to the home’s addressCensus records, deeds, and death certificates are all examples of documents that could be connected to a home’s address.
Search your community’s local news siteEven if your prospective home’s address isn’t explicitly named, you may be able to discover incidents tied to the house by using keywords associated with more general items, like the street or neighborhood name, or the names of past owners.It’s possible you may also come across obituaries of a previous owner that note that the deceased person died in their home.MORE: How to settle into a new house
Visit local community archives or genealogical societiesYour local library’s archives and regional genealogical societies may have records containing information about the house and previous inhabitants. If you’re lucky, they’ll be staffed by people who know the community like the back of their hand and might know the answers you’re looking for themselves or will at least be able to point you in the right direction.
Talk to neighborsYou don’t have to risk scaring your neighbors from the get-go by asking about deaths—you can simply ask what they know about the house and people who have lived there over the years. If you’ve done research on the home ahead of time and suspect a death might have occurred on the property, the information you’ve found can help you steer the conversation gently in that direction. Plus, talking to neighbors can give you a general sense of what people in the neighborhood are like and how well they know each other.
Use online databasesSome websites keep track of various events that happen on properties, from crimes to fires to deaths. Examples include HouseCreep.com and DiedInHouse.com.Some are free to use (and will have dubious levels of credibility), while others may require you to pay to search their records. Use these resources at your own discretion.You can also review census records via the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration or online databases set up by your area’s vital records office, which can be particularly helpful if you live in an older home.MORE: How to bundle home and auto insurance to save money
Why isn’t it easier to figure out?
Although curiosity is virtually universal, there is a reason most states don’t require sellers to disclose deaths which occurred in a house. If a particularly gruesome death occurred in the house, the property could become unnecessarily stigmatized and de-valued. However, if you are truly concerned that someone may have died in a house you’re looking to buy, do your own research and talk to the neighbors.
Need some help finding a home? We can help. Trelora real estate serves Colorado, Seattle, Phoenix, and Raleigh. Our mission is simple: full service real estate for a fraction of the cost. When you hire a traditional agent to help you buy or sell your home, you pay that agent 3-6% of the home’s value. Trelora offers sellers a full-service experience for just 1%. Buyers pay nothing out of pocket and receive an average refund of $6,000 at closing. Take the smart way home.
Christopher Stjernholm Christopher has been been in the Real Estate industry for 8 years and has had the opportunity to close over 1,000 deals while acting as the Managing Broker for thousands more. Christopher is passionate about continuing to find ways to simplify, maximize, and serve Trelora’s clients exceptionally well and spends his time building teams to deliver high levels of service. When not doing real estate Christopher can be seen training for marathons and ultra relays with his 2 year old daughter, eating pizza, and drinking a steady stream of Diet Coke.