Did Someone Die In This House?

house for sale with for sale sign

house for sale with for sale sign

It was a cold and rainy night…Nah! By the way, do you notice that horror movies are now released all year long, not just Halloween? Well, I’m not going to tell you a tale that will spook you out. However, there are times when people die in their homes. Some people dread the thought of buying a house where someone died because they may think it’s haunted or it just feels creepy to do that. Sometimes a person is in hospice and prefers to die at home, or they could have died from natural causes. How would you know if a death occurred in a home? Here’s how to find out.

DO THE NEIGHBORS KNOW?
If it’s something that received news coverage, the neighbors probably know about it. Neighbors usually know what’s going on where they live, so you may have a chance to talk to one before you decide to buy a home.

FIND OUT ONLINE
In order to find out, Google may be your first source. You can try searching “deaths in my house history free” to see what you come up with about crimes or murders which may have happened in the neighborhood or the house you’re interested in. Housecreep.com is a free website where, based on the address, you may be able to get information on stigmatized homes. Another site is SpotCrime. Their map search looks up crime reports and data and neighborhood statistics. There is also DiedInHouse.com. Their search starts at $11.99 for the first search and then goes up based on additional searches.

DO REAL ESTATE AGENTS HAVE TO DISCLOSE?
I once showed a house in Portsmouth where a horrific murder had taken place many years ago. Because of its notoriety, it was listed in the agent remarks. Properties like this are called “stigmatized” homes. Murder, drug labs, haunted houses, suicide and other activities that may have hit the news are in this category. Real estate agents are required to disclose current material adverse facts about the physical condition of the property if they know it, but is not required to disclose if there was a death in the home. Virginia’s laws do not require a homeowner to disclose non-physical facts about the property, including any deaths or murders.  Virginia is a “buyer beware” state, so do your homework if you’re concerned. If there was a physical problem to the property that was remedied, then there is no need to disclose.

There are disclosure forms that sellers need to fill out for buyers based upon certain situations:

  • Septic Waiver Disclosure Form Military Air Installation Disclosure Form
  • Property Previously Used for Methamphetamine Manufacture Disclosure Form
  • Building Code Enforcement Action/Zoning Ordinance Violation Disclosure Form
  • Disclosure Statement for Certain New Dwellings (if you’re a builder)
  • Privately Owned Stormwater Management Facility Disclosure Form

DOES A HOUSE LOSE VALUE IF SOMEONE DIES IN IT?
If a house goes on the market after a death has occurred, the property the appraisal usually is not affected by it. Murders can be a turn-off for perspective buyers, even if the death occurred in the past. Believe it or not, some people are interested in these types of properties. There are buyers out there who would think such a property would be the perfect place for them. This information is provided to give you information, not legal advice. If a certain property or situation is a concern for you, please contact an attorney. No matter the situation, it’s up to the buyer to do their homework to make sure that all aspects of the purchase process make by the house a good deal and gives you peace of mind.

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