How To Find Out If Someone Died In Your House

The PropertyClub Team
Sep 13th 2020
The easiest way to find out if someone died in your house is to pay for a report, but you can also do it for free with a bit of sleuthing. Here's what you need to know about finding info on deaths in the home and how they impact the property value.

It almost seems like the plot of a haunted house horror movie. You find a house that’s remarkably pretty, yet it’s stuck on the market for ages. Things couldn’t be better, and for some reason, it’s cheap as dirt despite having a clean inspection. You decide to buy it and move in. Things seem fine (or maybe a bit spooky, if you’re unlucky) until a neighbor mentions that they’re surprised you bought the house. When you ask them why they’re shocked, they seem surprised that you didn’t know your home had someone die inside of it. 

Believe it or not, this scenario happens more often than you think. If the idea of living in a place where someone died gives you the heebie-jeebies, you’re not alone. People who are worried about buying a home where someone passed away should read up on how you can prevent this from happening to you. 

Does Your Agent Have To Disclose If A Person Died In The House?

Here’s something pretty twisted: there’s a good chance that your agent does not have to disclose if a person died in a potential house. Some states, such as California, Alaska, and South Dakota, have laws that require realtors to disclose properties that are stigmatized due to death, hauntings, criminal activity, or other issues.

But most states don’t have “stigma” laws when it comes to house sales. This means that realtors are not legally required to say if a house has a haunted reputation or if someone died. You shouldn’t expect to have your realtor tell you if someone died in your house. 

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.

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.

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!

Does DiedInHouse.com 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. 

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. 

Is There Any Guaranteed Way To Discover If Someone Died In Your House?

Here’s the problem with trying to figure out if someone died in your house: it’s not always that cut and dry. Public records are not exactly known for being very detailed, especially back in the old days of pen-and-paper recordkeeping. 

Many parts of the country have histories that weren’t fully caught on paper, or if they were, had records that were lost to time. As a result, you cannot guarantee that you will find the full history of any house on the market. It’s just not really reasonable.