Has Anyone Died In The House You Want To Buy? Advice For Buyers

8 April 2016
 Categories: Real Estate, Articles

When buying somebody else's house, it's pretty much impossible to know everything that took place while they lived there. Of course, some issues are more important to buyers than others, but many people are uncomfortable with the idea that somebody may have died inside a property they plan to live in. If this bothers you, what can you do about it? Find out here.

Why death in a property may matter

As long as the price is right and the property is in sound condition, some buyers are generally not interested in a house's history. However, some people feel quite differently about a death inside the property, which, in turn, may make it harder for the seller to quickly secure a buyer at the right price.

In many cases, the nature of the death is an important consideration. For example, you may feel differently if an old person passed peacefully away in his or her sleep, compared to a young person who died in some sort of accident or crime. Opposition to any death may occur on religious or personal grounds, but the impact is often financial. If you buy a property without understanding its history, you may later struggle to sell the home if somebody else finds out. As such, disclosure of these matters is certainly something all buyers should consider.

What the law says

When somebody sells a property in the United States, there are certain seller disclosures that he or she must make according to federal law. For example, for all homes built before 1978, sellers must disclose details of any lead-based paint used in the property, due to the health implications associated with this type of product. Aside from this, some states have other seller disclosures that you must make.

Some state laws mean that you do not have to disclose any details about a death that may have occurred in the property. However, some states have strict laws about these matters. For example, California law mandates that sellers and/or landlords must disclose the details of any death that occurs on the property in the three years prior to the buyer making an offer to rent or buy the home.

Where states have these laws, exceptions often exist. For example, sellers in California don't have to disclose full details of a death that occurs as a result of AIDS, as this would fall foul of disability discrimination laws. In this situation, sellers must tell buyers that somebody died, but they cannot give the reasons.

Where common sense applies

It's not in a seller's interests to lie about a property, so even if the law does not mandate death disclosures, concerned buyers should always ask the question about any deaths that have occurred. Bear in mind that some sellers won't know the history of a property, especially if they haven't lived there for a long period, so if the matter really concerns you, you may still need to take further steps.

Conversely, you may want to consider how much you need to know this information. The risk of a death in a property is higher in older buildings, and if you intend to buy a home that dates back to the Victorian era or earlier, the chances that a death occurred are high. In these times, it was common for the elderly, the infirm and the sick to stay at home until they died.

Other ways to find out

If the issue of death disclosures really concerns you, there are other ways to find out if somebody died in a house.

Search for details on Google. If the death was in any way violent, suspicious or unusual, you may find details via a local newspaper's website. Bear in mind that these reports often don't disclose a full address, but an accompanying photo may give things away.

There are also now dedicated resources for home buyers looking for this information. For example, www.diedinhouse.com uses public and private data sources to provide concerned buyers with a report that shows details of any known deaths. Nonetheless, you should bear in mind that the website does not guarantee the accuracy of the data, so you may need to treat the contents with care.

It's useful to know if somebody died in a house you want to buy. In any case, talk to the real estate agent dealing with the sale, so he or she can help you approach the subject with the buyer. For more information, contact a company like Gavigan Homes.