There’s honestly no better feeling than owning a house. A place to relax after a long day, a home and shelter that you can run to when you are tired of the world. That’s why the house hunting process is usually stressful and filled with anxiety.
In fact, a study showed that roughly 44 percent of home buyers feel anxious during the buying process. The reports also claimed that one in three home buyers cried at one point in the buying process.
But seriously, can you blame them? In those moments, you start asking questions like “Am I making the right choice?”, “Are there safety or health hazards that an inspector might overlook in an inspection?”, or “Did someone die in this house?”
The last question might seem silly to ask your real estate agent, but if you’re planning to spend a considerable amount of time living in a place, it’s only fair that you know if a death occurred there.
You don’t have to have a fear of haunted houses or ghosts to dislike living in a house where someone has died. The problems that come with these houses go far beyond superstitions and can affect you in the long run.
Here, we’ll show you how to find out if someone died in your house. These tips will help you discover if ghosts haunt your dream home.
Why You Need To Know If Someone Died In Your House
In the movies, a lovely family moves into a nice house that they inherited or bought at a low price. After a few weeks, they start seeing ghosts and supernatural things.
Relax, none of this will happen if someone dies in your house. However, real estate isn’t all about closing the cheapest and most affordable deals, there is also a psychological side. No matter how cheap the house is, not many people will want to buy it if they find out the house witnessed the murder of children. You wouldn’t want to live in such a place.
The same applies to millions of home buyers. According to a Landmark Research Group study, deaths in a house can reduce its value by ten to 15 percent. This figure is lower for deaths due to natural causes.
There is a stigma for those kinds of houses, and in cases where you’ve bought a house with a history of death, reselling it can prove difficult. It can really affect property values. The Amityville horror house where six people were murdered saw a significant drop in value after the incident. It went from a $1.15 million valuation to $605,000 in just six years.
How to Find Out If Someone Died in Your House
Even after discovering the importance of doing death checks on a house before purchasing it, these checks aren’t necessarily easy or cheap. If you buy an older home with a history that precedes the internet and online documentation, you might find it difficult to get records.
Sometimes, the papers with these records might have been lost or never existed. But that rarely happens, and most times, if you know how and where to search, you’ll probably find what you are looking for. The following are areas where you can begin your search:
Search the Web
Like the thousands of other times you might have needed the answer to a question, ask Google. Search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuck Go have access to information from everywhere. It would do you a world of good to start your search there.
Firstly, you can type in the house address in the search bar and check the results. There might be news articles, documentaries, or blog posts that mention that particular address.
There’s a trick to searching an address on Google or any search engine. Try searching the name and number of the streets in quotes. Avoid using the words ‘street’ or ‘road’ in your quotes.
For example, if your street is on 264 Bourgeois Street In Los Angeles. Your search should look like this; “264 Bourgeois” Street, Los Angeles. If you find it difficult to find conclusive results, you can add street into the quotes. Something like “264 Bourgeois Street” Los Angeles.
The search engine should bring up any web pages with information on that street name. If your search results are still vague, you can add the city name with a comma to the quote.
Before the internet came into existence, people got information from reading local newspapers. Though most publications are now making the change from print to digital, some have managed to keep their pre-digital papers alive.
This is particularly helpful for old homes. Though there’s no guarantee that you’ll find your address in the archives, it’s good to search. You can focus on death notices, crime reports, and obituaries. Visiting the local library can also help.
Some sites offer newspapes archives with house history deaths by address free.
- Newspaper by Ancestry
- Newspaper Archives
The above sites offer free ways to get access to old newspapers and are especially good if you’re tight on cash. There are some paid ways too like Elephind and Google News archives.
Ask the Neighbors
This might seem like an absurd question to ask your new neighbors but if you want to know if someone has died in your house, asking the people who live nearby is a great option.
You can find out who has lived in that area the longest and ask politely “Please, has anyone died in my house?” They gain nothing from withholding such information, and in most cases, they’ll be eager to answer you.
Your neighbors are among the few people who are legally allowed to answer that question. A real estate agent can tell you about the structural and physical defects of the home you’re looking at, but they’re not permitted to disclose a house’s death history.
You can also search for the previous owners of the house and ask them questions. If you’re having doubts about your dream house, we can help you find better options.
Vital Records Office
In most countries of the world, a death certificate must contain both the cause and place of death. Death certificates are also public domain documents, and anyone can access them.
Most Vital Records Offices have up to 80 years of public records. You can go to your local county office or their website to get them. Search the address and see if there are any mentions of it. These documents are public domain, so be careful of sites that ask for payments, though some might offer a way to go through the documents faster.
Visit Your Local Library
After paying a visit to the Vital Records Office, you can visit your local library or historical society archives to get more information. With the guidance of a librarian, you can get some newspaper clippings with links to obituaries of deaths that might have occurred at that address. Census records can also help with the home’s history. All this can be found in your local library.
These might be a bit far fetched, but the search can turn out to be a very fun and enjoyable experience. As we said, it might be far-fetched.
Seller Disclose Form
California, Alaska, and South Dakota are the only states in the US that support death disclosure laws. Sellers have to disclose deaths recorded within the past three years in California.
The law, however, prevents disclosure based on the type of death. If a person had died from AIDS, the seller could choose to withhold that information in the seller’s disclosure form. It doesn’t matter if the death happened in the past three years.
Alaska and South Dakota require sellers to only disclose such information if the death happened anytime in the past year. Other states don’t support death disclosure laws.
Most sellers will disclose this in the seller disclosure form, so make sure you go through them well before purchasing.
In cases where the sellers aren’t obligated to disclose this information, you can politely ask the seller, “did someone die in my house?” While some might not reveal this to you, you might be lucky.
If you don’t feel comfortable meeting the seller, you can ask your real estate agents to talk to them. Real estate agents aren’t legally required to reveal this information, but they can help you arrange to get all the information you need.
Try DiedInHouse.com or HouseCreep.com
Most of the tips on how to find out if someone died in your house are very stressful and require a great deal of time.
Thankfully, sites like DiedInHouse.com are experts in this kind of case. Over 130 million news reports, death certificates, and police records are on DiedInHouse.com. All you need to do is put in your address and let the algorithm do its work.
Millions of people use DiedInHouse.com, and most of the time a DiedInHouse report provides the required information. However, there’s no guarantee you’ll find your house or whether the information will be accurate, but it might be worth a shot due to its track record and testimonials. The site is not free and requires you to pay $11.99 per search.
Housecreep.com is a less comprehensive and cheaper version of DiedInHouse.com. In fact, the site is free to use. You can find houses with records of paranormal activity, or criminal and meth activity. Even houses where sex offenders have lived can be found on Housecreep.com. They don’t possess a huge database, but it’s free and helpful, and there’s no harm in trying.
The Bottom Line
Even after you have selected the perfect location and house to buy, there’s nothing wrong in asking if someone died there. After all, it’s going to be your property and you deserve to know the home’s history.
Most states don’t require the listing agent to say if someone died in that location so it’s mostly up to you to figure it out. We’ve managed to bring you some tips on how to find out if someone died in your house. Hopefully, you get all the answers you seek. Good luck!
Everyone’s dream is to buy the perfect home, a place of peace and happiness, a safe zone. We understand how you feel because we’ve been there. At Homes By Ardor, we help home buyers find their perfect home while connecting sellers to their ideal buyer. Visit us today and let us take you a step closer to owning a house.
Kris Reid is the CEO of Ardor SEO, a company that helps real estate professionals get more leads and customers to predictably grow their business.
Over the years, Kris acquired extensive knowledge of SEO and its practical applications in various industries, with the main focus on real estate.
In 2021 Ardor launched the Icons of Real Estate Podcast to share proven strategies from the top producing icon agents with the real estate community.
After obtaining the real estate license in 2022, Kris joined eXp Realty and launched Homes by Ardor, the platform that was built to be the fastest way to buy or sell a house. Homes by Ardor also provides leads for its partner companies and realtors.