How To Find Out If Someone Died In Your House

How To Find Out If Someone Died In Your House

Should a death in a house impact your home search?

We’ve all seen haunted house movies. Family finds a beautiful house on the market for an inexplicably low price, moves in, things start mysteriously moving themselves, the neighbors steer clear, and then the full-scale haunting happens. 

None of that is likely to happen if someone died in your house, but there is a psychological aspect to real estate. 

Many people just don’t want to live in a house where someone died or experienced something gruesome. If you’re reading this article, you just might be that type of person. Rest assured, you’re not alone. Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s worth investigating whether or not someone has died in a home. If you decide that your dream home is haunted, you may be able to use Orchard to find another option.

Stigma is real and it often leads to houses becoming devalued. Depending on the deaths or events that occurred at a house, it could decrease a home’s value by more than 3%.

Cash offers are 4x more likely to be accepted Orchard can help you make a stronger, all-cash offer. Enter your current address to see if you qualify.

3. Use Word of Mouth 

It may sound obvious, but another great way to find out if someone has died is to simply ask around. If you have any type of relationship with the person who passed, friends and family will likely be willing to answer your questions. When reaching out to family members inquiring about a death, be sure to broach the topic respectfully and with sympathy. In addition, be prepared that some people may choose to forego answering questions if the memory is too painful.  Be courteous and pursue one of the other options listed in this article if this is the case.

Not sure how to to locate a decedent's friends and family? Reach out on social media! Start by drafting a gracious note to ask if they would be willing to answer some questions. 

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Does Actually Work?

As with any online search tool, it’s essential to realize that the information you’re getting is based on public reports as well as volunteered information from local residents. The site itself makes a point of having a disclaimer that there’s no guarantee to the accuracy of the information. In general, it seems to have good records starting in the 1980s as that’s when information on deaths in homes become public record in most parts of the country. The site also claims to gather historical information that goes further back, but it certainly isn’t perfect.

However, most people who use it agree that there is a decent amount of accuracy provided by the service. So while it’s not 100 percent accurate, it usually is accurate enough to be relied upon. 

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.

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.

Consult Census Records and City Directories

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard living in Encino, California (1940 census). National Archives & Records Administration

Tracking down previous owners of your home is a great start, but only tells a part of the story. What about all of the other people who may have lived there? Children? Parents? Cousins? Even lodgers? This is where census records and city directories come into play.

The U.S. government took a census each decade beginning in 1790 and the resulting US census records through 1940 are open to the public and available online. State census records are also available for some states and time periods—generally taken about mid-way between each federal decennial census.

City directories, available for most urban areas and many towns, can be used to fill in gaps between available census enumerations. Search them by address (e.g. “4711 Hancock“) to locate everyone who may have lived in or boarded at the residence.

Read the seller disclosure form

Read over the seller disclosure form to see if there’s anything that seems suspicious or anything that looks like it has been purposely left blank. If so, chat with your real estate agent about having a dialogue with the seller regarding the home’s history. It is to their best advantage to disclose the true history of the house because if you learn of death and decide not to purchase the home at the last minute, the agreement may fall through. However, the seller is not required to reveal deaths that occurred in residence in most states. California is the only state requiring a seller to disclose any fatalities in the home during the preceding three years. Alaska and South Dakota are the only two states with death disclosure statutes, which oblige property owners to reveal any murders or suicides in the house within the previous year. Certain conditions compel sellers to provide death information when a buyer requests it, although the lines are a little hazy as to what information must be disclosed. You can contact Chicago hospice for good services.

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).

Do you have to declare if someone died in your house?

It is a legal requirement under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (or CPR’s), that estate agents and property vendors alike have to disclose any information that could either effect or decrease the value of a property. This does include both murder and suicide in the property.

How do I find if someone has died UK?

Death records in the UK are public and you can generally find out the details of a deceased person’s death and burial online, such as with GOV.UK, publicrecordsearch.co.uk or deceasedonline.com.

Finding Out If Someone Died In Your House For Free

Doing a little research will help you find out whether or not your home has been the site of a death in many cases. Some of the best ways to find out are:

  1. Directly asking your agent- Though they are not legally required to tell you if a house has been a site of death, most real estate agents will be upfront if you ask them about it. Moreover, many states have laws that require agents to be truthful if directly asked about deaths in the home.
  2. Looking at the public records associated with the house- Many jurisdictions will have a legal mandate requiring public records to address any deaths or serious crimes that have been witnessed on-premises. You can do this by asking the town for information on the home.
  3. Asking the neighbors- In many cases, neighbors will be ready and willing to tell you about the home’s history. However, this isn’t always a reliable method. Some neighbors might be out of touch with the community, while others might make gossip a game.
  4. Look for news reports- If murders occurred on the premises or the home was the site of a suspicious death, there’s a good chance that you might be able to hear about your home in the headlines. On a similar note, many obituaries will also mention if someone died in the home. Check to see if a former owner’s obituary mentions it.
  5. Ask the current owners- Though some may not want to be honest about it, many owners will be transparent about the home’s history. In some cases, it might even be the reason why they’re choosing to sell the house. Even if you don’t expect them to be forthright, it’s worth a shot at the very least.
  6. Look for online stories regarding the house- If your neighborhood is well-known among paranormal investigators, you might be able to find out about your house’s history from online forums that detail excursions. Oddly enough, this can help you figure out if someone died in the house. 
  7. Keep an eye out for strange disclosure gaps- At times, the seller disclosure statement might be able to give some clues as to what happened in the house. For example, if there was a disclosure for fire damage, you might be able to further inquire if anyone was harmed in the fire.
  8. Avoid older houses- Let’s just be honest, the older the house is, the more likely it is that someone died there. This is especially true with 19th-century homes since it was common practice to die at home during that point in history.

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.

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