How to Get a Dead Good Discount on Your Dream Home

Monday, 04 Nov 2013 03:43 PM

With Halloween come and gone, it’s time for the city’s extravagant pop-up Haunted Houses to close their doors and make way for the fun and frills of the next holiday: cue Christmas. But if you’re interested in carrying on with the frightening festivities of the past month, you now can with Died in House; a one-stop shop where you can find out who, if anyone, has ever died in your home.

The curious new website, which launched earlier this year, claims to have over 118 million records which it draws from to deliver reports detailing who previously lived (and died) in your house, when they died, and how. Though this knowledge comes at the price: an $11.99 sign-up fee which, subscribers beware, doesn’t guarantee that the information provided is, “…accurate, complete, or current”.

Nevertheless, the website is attracting mounting interest from paranormal enthusiasts and cynics alike. The website’s facebook page has almost 10,000 likes and site’s been getting plenty of mentions on radio and TV talk shows. Obviously a large part of the appeal is America’s fascination with the strange and supernatural. However, the team behind the search engine are trying to push a different angle, marketing the site as a tool to assist buyers and sellers determine the value of their home.

In most states, agents and sellers are under no legal obligation to disclose information about the deaths that have occurred on a property. New York is one such state where, as of 1995, brokers are free to withhold information about any in-house deaths, felonies or homicides. Died in House plays on these disclosure laws, urging prospective home owners to secure buyer’s confidence by asking “…your seller or landlord for a report or discreetly purchase a report yourself before you sign”.

In the real estate game it’s acknowledged that if a known death has occurred on a property, its value often drops, leading to a longer sale period. In the event of a tragic or unnatural death, the likelihood of depreciation is even greater. Commonly referred to as ‘stigmatized properties’, these homes can lose up to 25% of their market value, according to Died in House. The website stresses the criticality of this information for buyers, claiming it, “…can be used as leverage to negotiate a reduced price or rent.”

Drawing on the examples of Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson, the site tells how the homes where the ill-fated celebrities passed away sold for millions of dollars less than their asking prices (up to $10 million less in the case of Jackson’s Los Angeles mansion). So if you’re a house hunter on a budget, Died in House might just be worth a shot. At the expense of knowing a little too much information, you might just be able to shave a few thousand dollars off the price of your dream home.