Someone died in that house

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker
Okay, it is an odd topic, I know… Fifty years ago, it was normal for people to die in their homes and the buyer that subsequently purchased that house had no concerns about it (if it was even disclosed- Disclosures 50 years ago is a whole other topic!). Today, buyers are, shall we say, leery of buying a home someone died in. Even if it was natural causes. Does this indicate society has superstitions, a fear of ghosts or a just a general fear of death? (You know, you are not getting out of this life alive right??). I recently went on a broker tour of my local area of San Jose, Willow Glen, and we toured a house that had two recent deaths in the home. The first died of natural causes and the second died from a heroine overdose. Both were non violent deaths. Even as we were about to go through the house with over 40 ‘live’ agents, I heard comments from people who did not want to go in the house. That heightened my awareness and I tried to use my best psychic abilities and see if I could feel anything. Although I did not feel or see anything unusual it was a topic of discussion for about 15 minutes before and after seeing the house. During those discussions, I learned that the house nearby also had a recent death in it. That makes the count 3 deaths and I heard some people say, ‘well death comes in three’s so the bad luck has passed.” To be honest, I would be a bit uncomfortable purchasing a house that someone had died in and I shyly admit to being a bit superstitious. My 3 questions to you are: 1) Would you buy a house someone had recently died in? 2) Do you think a death in the house should result in a lower asking price? 3) Why do you think disclosing a death in the home is such a hot topic?

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Mary Warren
Las Vegas, NV

I find people are leery about buying a house where a violent death occured.  If it's just a fell asleep, didn't wake up death then that's a different story....people don't seem to care.  I've sold houses where the person was abused and finally murdered by the husbund/s.o. and I've sold houses where both spouses died natural deaths within 60 days of each other.

Jul 29, 2008 06:14 PM #1
Randy Prothero
eXp Realty - Mililani, HI
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645

I was selling a home and the one next door had a drowning death in the pool.  I have to admit, I would feel funny having my children swim in the same pool.

Jul 29, 2008 06:17 PM #2
Kim Cameron, CRS
Better Homes & Gardens Preferred Properties - Town and Country, MO
Broker Salesperson, CRS

Interesting topic...Not sure disclosing a death in a home is required (you'll need to check for market specific parameters).

I was at my sister-in-laws home in Des Moines, IA over the weekend. A home down the street has had two people in a 20 year period commit suicide by way of hanging themselves in the garage. The two scenarios were completely different, unrelated and truly a freak coincidence.

Unfortunately, the word got out, the home was pretty much unsellable and went back to the back by way of foreclosure. This is what I would consider an extreme scenario, but in time where information is so readily accessible, buyers are amateur Sherlock Holmes on-line finding out more about a home than a REALTOR will investigate as well as be able to convey due to Fair Housing Act.

So, I would say a death in a home does effect resale, both time on market as well as bottom line net for a seller.

Jul 29, 2008 06:18 PM #3
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

I bought my house which belonged to my past broker. Her husband died here. I had no problems at all. In fact myself and my children ran away from an abusive marriage of 20 years and Gil, the man that died in our house comforted my daughters and he would walk the house at night to make sure they were fine. He did not leave until Nestor moved in with us. When he knew Nestor could protect us, he went away.

Jul 29, 2008 06:18 PM #4
Kim Cameron, CRS
Better Homes & Gardens Preferred Properties - Town and Country, MO
Broker Salesperson, CRS more thing: I think the manner in which the death occurred (i.e. natural causes vs. violent crime or suicide) play a big part on how it perceived by the prospective buyer, public, agents, etc.

Jul 29, 2008 06:22 PM #5
Ana Connell
G & C Properties - Burbank, CA
Burbank Real Estate Agent

Interesting topic, I think it is an individual perception.  Some are bothered by it while others are not.  I do think that the circumstances surrounding the death do matter.  Many people don't seem to be bothered by natural circumstances.

Jul 29, 2008 06:27 PM #6
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Holly:  This is just me, but I would never buy a home that had a recent death in it.  Just me... a personal quirk.  Second, I don't know about having a lower asking price, but I think that having had a recent death in the family narrows down the available portion of the buying market that would be open to even looking at it.  Third... hot topic ?  Because of the importance of full disclosure.  That, and I think that death is viewed in a more negative context than it was fifty years ago.

Jul 29, 2008 06:45 PM #7
Holly Barr
Coldwell Banker - San Jose, CA

Wow! These are wonderful comments!

I appreciate you all taking the time to respond.


Holly Barr

San Jose, CA

Jul 29, 2008 07:56 PM #8
Nannette Turner
Keller Williams Lynchburg - Lynchburg, VA
Online Marketing Home Ownership Advocate Specialis

Holly I have purchased a home that the previous owner died in the house.  She died young.  Although I got a great deal on the house it was due to the condition of the property and not that there was a death.  Her death was due to an illness.  I rehab-ed the house.  Even put on a new front door and re-did the front entrance way entirely. Hopefully this allows for "new energy" to enter the home.  I think the previous owner would be proud!

The way I see it death is a way of life.  Heck people die every day.  Births happen all the time.  Just part of the cycle.  In our area we don't have to disclose any of this.

Jul 29, 2008 10:15 PM #9
Stephanie- Home Buyer


I came across your blog searching the internet on this subject.  My husband and I are purchasing a foreclosed property in our neighborhood.  This will be our first home and we have three small children.  After signing the contracts yesterday, my husband comes home and tells me that he feels a little wierd in the house, like someone is watching him.  He said that while he and the boys were in the house yesterday, our oldest (7) said he felt creeped out like there were cameras everywhere watching him.  My husband had said nothing to our son about his own feelings.  After he came home and told me this.  I researched the previous owners from about 3 years ago.  The people who foreclosed on the property were investors who had bought multiple properties at the same time in 2005 and ended up foreclosing on all of them in 2007.  But the person they bought the house from in 2005 was a widow.  I found out her husband had died in 2005, IN THE HOME.  My husband had me go over there by myself last night to see if I felt anyone watching me.  I had never had a problem walking through the house before.  Of course, going over in the evening time by myself knowing that a man had died in there freaked me out this time.  I walked throught the house praying and telling "Jeffrey" that it was ok, he could go now.  The light in the dining room was on and I tried every switch in there to turn it off but none of the switches would turn it off.  I came home and asked my husband if he had turned it on and he said no, that we haven't been able to find a switch to turn that light on yet.  So needless to say I am trying to find the police report to tell me how he died, he was only 53.  And I'll be calling the Catholic church to see about having someone come bless the house.  I am baptist but the gentleman was Catholic so I thought it would be best to ask the Catholic church.  Too late now to walk away because of a death so I will do what I can before we move our family in.  Thanks for letting me share.

Aug 21, 2008 12:35 AM #10

How do you go about finding the history of your purchased home in Warran Ohio? I'm kinda new to this and would like to know of any death's in the house? So what would one do to find this out?

Thank You,


Sep 16, 2008 06:35 PM #11
Holly Barr

In California, you may be able to back out of a deal if it was not disclosed that someone died in the home and the seller KNEW about it. The trick is proving they knew about it.

My biggest suggestion is to ASK THE NEIGHBORS!!! You can have a house blessed and there are many wonderful ways to do that. You can find some cool ways with sage etc. on line or bring in a spiritual person to cleanse the house.

Best of luck!

Holly Barr

Sep 16, 2008 06:43 PM #12

I was transferred to Orlando, FL. early this year and bought a charming Condo at very reasonable price. Despite learning about the home death of the previous owner (at natural cause), I still decided to purchase. After all, I was never afraid of this sort of things. Spirits only exist in your own mind if you choose to belive them. By the way, my own husband also recently passed and I wasn't able to contact him - even through 3 different psychics! (I only tried these for curiosity while accompanied a friend for the visits. May be I'll try the 4th! for closure sake!). 

After spending months of decorating the unit, I consider it to be my first dream home without compromise (I used to comprise too much with my late husband). Even my two daughters (21 and 23) like my place enough to bring their friends over during summer break. However, I receive a call, two months ago, from the widow of the previous owner asking to come pick up her letters being sent to my address. Of course, I had no reason to reject her.

When she arrived, I politely invited her for tea and we started chating. An elegant lady in early middle age, she mentioned that she is about to move back to L.A. to her parents in Oct. That was her major reason for selling the house. We had dinner together and ended up talking well into the evening. We talked about our lives, our work, our children, our late husbands and the circumstances of their death. We shared family photos with each other as well as vedeo recordings of my wedding and his funeral. Strange as it may sound, I discovered amazing similarities between she and I. We are both the same age, graduated in the same year and worked in the same profession; We both lived in England for a few years and before moving back to L.A; We both have our eldest daughter enrolled in UCLA (both in 3rd year); Our husbands were both having fetal heart attacks (at 52), died a week from each other and their funerals were on exactly the same day (Aug 30, 2007)

But whenever she mentioned her late husband, she regularly stared at the same spot right outside my study. Even without saying, I could imagine that to be the spot where her husband died. I knew she wasn't intentional and I would not blame her for that. But from that day onward, I began to feel uneasy whenever I looked at that spot. And in a number of occassions, I actually 'envisioned' my late husband lying over there. I developed a bad habit for keeping my pumps on at home in the evening only to hear some sound of my heels as I walk. May be I had already knew enough about her deceased husband (and the similarity of our predicament) to tie in with my personal experiences. Our met up brought back all the details that associated with my husband's death which I worked so hard to forget. Since then, I have been regularly 'seeing' my late late husband in my dreams, in my house and in my office. I feel too uptight to focus on my work and career that I value so much of. I am seriously thinking about selling. But unfortunately, price is definately not on my side under the current economy. I'll try to cope as best as I possibly could.

Learning from my own experience, I just want to brings out one point. Why border finding out if anyone actually died in any house. There are things in this complex world that one rather knew nothing about. Before I met her, I knew nothing about the previous owner and was perfectly happy with my dream condo. Now that I have acquired all these unnecessary details and the 'spirit' I recently created is winning the battle over me. 

If you love the house, just buy it, decorate it and live happily in it with your family. Throughout the 200+ years of our history, I'm sure there were people dying anywhere in this country (especially in cities). Even if you were buying new houses, you still don't know if there were people dying on the same lot and those 'spirit' will continue living with you! If one always think about who died where or what they had done when making purchase, there is almost nowhere in America that is absolutely 'clean' or 'spirit free'. We will all ended up living under dark shadows.

This is just my personal thoughts. I hope it helps you to decide.  

Mrs. Victoria G.M.






Oct 10, 2008 02:29 AM #13

Hi Mrs. Victoria,


Your story is very interesting and I wanted to thank you for sharing that with all of us.  You seem to understand that it's all in your head to continue to think about certain people, situations and parts of the house.  But as you said, your house is beautiful and maybe you are dreaming of your husband because you miss him.  You obviously felt comfortable enough in the beginning, just don't let that go away.  Close your eyes and say to yourself, "They are at peace. I am at peace."  Open your eyes, realize you are the only one controlling how you feel, and smile.

I have a severe form of ecophobia myself.  To the point where after moving into a condo for litereally 11 days I was sleeping in our car because I was scared to be in the place.  We just wanted a place so badly that we didn't care what happened.  A black lady passed away in the condo.  I found a picture of her daughter (daughter was very young, the lady was in her 30's and passed away of some type of cancer).  We also found a deceased rabbit on the front porch.  I attempted to contact the lady.  I asked her to knock three times on the wall if she wanted us out.  I heard, without a doubt, three knocks.  I asked her to move the chandelier.  It was swaying.  The neighbor also scared me by telling me about the woman.  It could have been a set-up by the neighbor but I didn't want to take any chances.  Moving is stressful enough and then there is all this drama along with it.

We now live in a home built in the 1940's.  Although the condo was newer I don't feel as scared here.

Now we are considering buying a home and I am very worried.  I want to speak with the neighbors of each house we consider and see what went on.  I don't care if I'm the crazy psychotic neighbor, I am just a very nervous person and would like information so I don't wonder constantly!

Oct 04, 2010 09:13 AM #14
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

You have to disclosure any death on the property in last 3 years under California Civil Code Section 1710.2,  it's a material defect( a death occurred within three years of the date you make an offer to purchase or rent the home).

For some buyers/tenatns it is a deal breaker. 

Aug 17, 2016 04:37 AM #15
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