Content of the material
- Search the web
- Google it
- Is The Property Value Affected If Someone Died In My House?
- How do you find the history of a house?
- What Are The Websites That Show If Someone Died In The House?
- #2: Ask the seller and the Real Estate Agent
- Consult Census Records and City Directories
- Read the seller disclosure form
- We Make Buying & Selling Simple!
- Can you live in a house someone died in?
- We’re Here to Help
- Ask the Neighbors
- Inquire of your neighbors if anyone died in your home
- 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?
Search the web
The quickest approach to finding out if someone died in a house is to utilize DiedInHouse.com. The website combines data from over 130 million police records, press reports, and death certificates to assess whether or not someone died in a house. It does cost $11.99 per search. While the website might offer important information concerning fatalities in your home, there is a clause. The site disclaimer states: “Died in House™ does not guarantee to have discovered or confirmed all deaths that have happened in or at a certain address.” Although the website contains over 130 million records, there are a lot of residences in the world. The website will likely provide you with accurate information as to the history of your home, but you never know.
If the thought of visiting a local government office or brick-and-mortar library scares you more than any haunted spirit, you can also try a search engine. Google the address, and look for any links from local news stations or obituaries.
“You should also experiment with queries that include your address followed by terms like ‘death,’ ‘murder,’ or ‘homicide’ so you can get a complete picture of your situation,” says interior designer Brett Elron of BarterDesign. Elron says as an interior designer, he’s had plenty of clients want to know if their home has had a death inside of it.
“Before we had huge hospitals available close to every location, dying at home was the norm.”
Is The Property Value Affected If Someone Died In My House?
Though it’s not something discussed on paper, it can affect your property value. Depending on the deaths, it could cause a serious drop in demand as well as home value. Sometimes, it can exceed 3 percent of the home’s value.
How do you find the history of a house?
Here are 8 ways to find out the history of your home. The National Registry of Historic Places. Ask your Realtor. Look up old census records. Visit a local library, historical society or preservation foundation. Explore the home and yard for clues. Conduct a title search. Read books on the area. Ready to move?.
What Are The Websites That Show If Someone Died In The House?
The most commonly-used service is DiedInHouse.com, which lets you find out if there are any known records of people dying in a specific house. It gets pricey, though—approximately $12 per search!
#2: Ask the seller and the Real Estate Agent
Suppose you ask the seller and their real estate a direct and specific question about past deaths at the home, irrespective of what it says on the seller disclosure form. Must they answer? On a balance of probabilities — yes, they probably should.
The law regarding death disclosures is unfortunately gray. Some states actively protect sellers and real estate agents who say nothing about previous deaths.
Yet homebuyers in other states have successfully sued sellers for keeping quiet about grisly past events. Professional bodies such as the National Association of Realtors routinely advise their members to be open and upfront about known stigmas in the homes they are selling, lest they face a lawsuit from disgruntled homebuyers.
For homebuyers the advice is simple: if you want to know something, ask. Most real estate agents will supply the information you are looking for. Just makes sure you know what you are asking.
All the case law on the subject of death disclosures concerns properties that have witnessed a murder, suicide or haunting. So far, no homebuyer has successfully sued a home seller for failing to disclose a normal, peaceful death in the home. Remember those home deaths were once commonplace.
There’s a good chance that an older home has witnessed the death of an occupant, and neither the seller not their agent will know about it.
Consult Census Records and City Directories
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 looks suspicious or anything that looks like it has been purposefully left blank. If so, talk to your real estate agent about having a conversation with the seller about the history of the home. It’s in their best interest to tell you the true history of the home because if you find out information about a death which would turn you away from buying the home at the last minute, the deal could fall through.However, most states don’t require the seller to disclose deaths which occurred in the home. California is the only state which requires a seller to disclose all deaths which occurred in the house over the past three years. The only other two states with death disclosure laws are Alaska and South Dakota, which require an owner to disclose any murders or suicides which occurred in the house within the past year. Some states do require a seller to disclose death information is a buyer asks, but the lines are a little blurred on exactly what is necessary to disclose.
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Can you live in a house someone died in?
You have to die somewhere, the choices are at home, in a hospital or out on the street. Home sounds like the best place to die. In most jurisdictions real estate agents aren’t required to tell you that someone has died in the house, unless it’s a particularly notorious death which may affect the value of the house.
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Ask the Neighbors
Another answer might be living—pun intended—right next door.
“In Texas, a Realtor is only able to disclose physical and structural defects, not facts like a previous murder scene or death in the home,” says Benjamin Ross, a Texas-based Realtor and founder of My Active Agent. “It pays to do a little research on your own and not rely on the professionals for everything: Ask the neighbors if they have ever witnessed an event at the house.”
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.
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.
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.
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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.