Whether you’re buying or renting, the thought has probably crossed your mind at least once: I wonder if anyone’s died in this house.
Everyone thinks about the history of their home and wonders whether it includes death. And there are many reasons why you might want to know.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Free Ways to Find Out if Someone Died in Your House
- Subscription or Paid Ways to Find Out if Someone Died in Your House
Some people believe a paranormal presence inhabits their home, and they want to get to the bottom of it. Others wonder if a death in the house might impact the value of the property. Most people, though, are just curious about the space they’re living in.
Since walls can’t talk, we’ve compiled a list of the best free and paid methods of finding out if anyone’s died in your home.
Post-loss tip: Perhaps it was a close loved one of yours that recently passed away in your house. If you are the executor for the deceased, the emotional and technical aspects of handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
Free Ways to Find Out If Someone Died in Your House
You don’t have to pay or subscribe to a service to find out if someone’s passed away in your home. If you’re willing to do a little bit of legwork, these free methods might just do the trick.
1. Search for your address on Google and social media
If a death in your house happened as the result of a newsworthy event, you can usually find out using a simple Google search. You might be able to find online news articles that mention the address, as well as blogs or forums.
It may also be worth searching for your address on Twitter and Facebook using their built-in search bars. Newscasters and networks sometimes post information, like addresses, related to their news stories. Some people post information they hear over police scanners on their social media pages, too.
Search tip: When searching for an address, start with the street name and number in quotes. Leave the word “street,” “avenue,” or “road,” outside the quotes.
For example, if your address is 555 Elm Street in New York City, your search should look like this: “555 Elm” Street, New York City.
If that search is too broad, try placing the full street name in quotes: “555 Elm Street” New York City. Then try placing the city name, separated by a comma, in quotes too.
2. Search newspaper archives
Digitized newspaper archives are free to search, and they might reveal information about deaths in your home. This is especially true for older homes.
Look for listings like obituaries and death notices, as well as crime reports. But keep in mind that you’re not guaranteed to find your address in a newspaper archive, even if there was a death in the home.
Some sites that let you search historical archives of printed newspapers for free include:
- Library of Congress
- Google News
- Newspapers by Ancestry (with a free trial)
- Newspaper Archive (with a free trial)
3. Search online obituaries and death notices
Printed newspapers aren’t the only place where families post obituaries and death notices. These days, it’s common for surviving relatives to submit their listings to online-only publications, which are often associated with local newspapers.
Families aren’t legally required to publish or print an obituary. However, they might be required to publish a death notice, depending on the circumstances.
4. Ask the homeowner or real estate agent
If you’re considering buying a house, you might get the information you need by simply asking the seller.
The homeowner or agent might know the entire history of the house, especially if it’s a newer property. Some (but not all) states even require sellers to notify buyers if someone died inside the home.
The State of California, for example, views any death within the last three years as a “material fact.” That means the seller has to disclose before the buyer makes their final decision.
Even if you’re considering renting a home, it doesn’t hurt to ask whether or not someone’s died on the property. It’s not an absurd question to ask before you move into a new home.
After all, the cause of death could reveal important information about the home itself (as in a radon or lead problem) or its location (as in a home invasion).
5. Talk to the neighbors
A real estate agent or seller might not be required to disclose any deaths in the house. And if they’re not legally required to do so, it’s likely they won’t provide that information readily. Neighbors and locals, though, might have information about the house that’s of interest, including deaths that may have occurred there.
Whether you already live in the house or you’re considering moving in, you can learn a great deal by talking to your neighbors. Just ask what they know about the home and its previous owners.
6. Try HouseCreep.com.
HouseCreep.com is a free database that contains information on thousands of “stigmatized” properties. These are properties known to have a criminal history, including drug activity and association with sex offenders, as well as properties where deaths have occurred. HouseCreep also lists properties with reported paranormal activity.
Just enter your address into the search bar and click enter to see any results associated with your home.
7. Visit the vital records office
If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for using the methods above, you can go directly to the official source: the vital records office.
Visit your local office, either in person or online. There, you should find public listings of death certificates. Search to see if your address is listed on any death certificates as the place of death.
Subscription or Paid Ways to Find Out if Someone Died in Your House
Finding out if someone has died in your home is ultimately free. If you can’t find out online or by talking to people in your area, you can always visit your local vital records office.
But sifting through all that information can take more time than many people want to spend. If you’d rather pay a fee to skip that process, one of these paid or subscription methods might provide the information you’re looking for.
8. Try DiedInHouse.com
One website has taken full advantage of homeowners’ and renters’ innate curiosity. DiedInHouse.com is a full website dedicated to helping you find out if anyone—you guessed it—died in your house. That includes death by murder and suicide, as well as accidental and natural deaths.
DiedInHouse.com also reports any meth activity or fire-related incidents at the address, as well as all of the known names associated with the home and any sex offenders linked to the property.
The catch is that DiedInHouse.com mostly aggregates data collected after 1980. If any deaths happened in your home before that, you might receive a notice that the site “can not identify the location of death” for one or more known residents. This could mean that those residents died in the home, or it could not.
Each report (per address searched) costs $11.99. You can save up to 20% by purchasing multiple search credits at one time. DiedInHouse doesn’t offer a subscription service.
9. Try NeighborWho.com
Unlike DiedInHouse.com, NeighborWho.com doesn’t specifically search for deaths that happened in your house. Instead, it searches for the full history of a house, including all of its previous owners.
NeighborWho might be more useful if you’re concerned about the value of a home since it provides information on the home’s last purchase price and its property taxes. You can also look up all of your neighbors’ homes since searches are unlimited with a subscription.
A one-month membership with NeighborWho costs $35.86, which seems steep at first. But when you consider that you get unlimited reports, it’s far less expensive than DiedInHouse for searching three or more properties.
10. Hire an investigator
If you haven’t found any results on your own, or you’d just rather have someone else do the work for you, you can hire a professional private investigator. Of course, this is the most expensive option, and it can be hard to find a reputable and reliable professional.
But if you need to get to the bottom of what happened in your home, you might consider hiring someone who’s gone through the process successfully before.
Finding Out if Someone Died in Your Home
If you find out that someone has died in your home, don’t panic. Before there were major hospitals in every city, passing away at home was the norm. So if you live in an older home, death might be just one of the many, normal life experiences to have taken place on the property.
And if you’re buying or selling a home, keep in mind that a death in the home is unlikely to affect property values. The exception to this rule, sometimes, is if the death was violent or unusual. But typically, if something like that happened in your house, it’ll come up quickly with a quick Google search for your address.
Ultimately, death is an inevitable part of life. Accepting that will only help you come to peace with it.