It’s natural to wonder whether or not someone died in a home, especially if someone died in YOUR home. Whether the house looks foreboding and you believe that something must have happened there or if you’re just curious who lived in your home, you’ve probably tried to figure out the history of your home. If so, you’ve already figured out that it’s not that easy to figure out whether or not someone has died in your house. Here are a couple things that can help you get to the bottom of this mystery.
Search the Web
The easiest way to find out if someone died in a house is to use the website DiedInHouse.com. The website uses data from over 130 million police records, news reports, and death certificates to determine whether or not someone died in a house. It does cost $11.99 per search. While the website might offer helpful information about deaths in your house, there is a clause. The site disclaimer states: “Died in House™ does not guarantee to have identified or confirmed all deaths that have occurred in or at a specific address.” Simply put, although the website has over 130 million records, there are a lot of houses in the world. The website will likely give you accurate information as to the history of your home, but you never know.
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.
Ask Your Neighbors if Someone Died in Your House
While it may feel uncomfortable, if you’re really nervous about someone having died in the house, it’s worth reaching out to neighbors about the history of the home. If they’ve been living in the area a while, they’ll likely know the history of the home. Remember, neighbors know a lot, so buddy up with them and get some answers.
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).
Think About the House’s Age
If you’re living in an older home, it’s more likely than not that someone over the years has died in the house. There are a lot of historic and often spooky homes around the US. If this feels too spooky for you, you probably shouldn’t be looking to buy an older home.
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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