by Tony Harrington
In the world of real estate, a “Material Fact” is defined as a fact, that if divulged or known, could have resulted in the buyer or seller of a property making a different decision as to whether or not to purchase/sell said property, to remain in contract with the property, or it could change the perceived value of the home with regard to buying and selling.
Types of “Material Facts” could be flooding potential, structural integrity compromised, past fire/smoke damage, or the fact that the home is a snake hibernaculum. (I will not explain what this is, if you want nightmares look it up yourself.)
There is a laundry list of what is considered “Material Fact” when listing a home, and these facts should be noted by the real estate agent showing the home to potential buyers:
- Plumbing/sewage/septic issues
- Water damage
- known animal/insect infestations
- HVAC issues
- Foundation issues
- Issues related to title/deed/property paperwork
- Known neighbor issues
One thing suspiciously missing from the list of Material Facts is whether or not someone has died or was murdered in the home. Most home buyers don’t even think to question the real estate agent about such things, probably to save themselves from the appearance of being morbid as hell. But, most sellers won’t willfully divulge the information if not asked. A previous occupant dying in the home is not a material fact, unfortunately.
Flash forward a few moths after the homeowner purchases their dream house and are unaware that a death occurred inside. Suddenly they are reporting strange activity and seeking the help of local paranormal investigators. One thing the investigators are going to ask the homeowners is if, to their knowledge, anyone died on the property.
In the past, the best the paranormal investigators could do was a good old fashioned internet search, or hit the library and rummage through archives about the property in the hopes of finding the elusive proof of death at a residence.
Searches are time-consuming and wrought with dead ends (no pun intended.) Until recently there was just no simple way to search a myriad of records via one site.
Along comes www.diedinhouse.com and aggregates results from multiple sources based upon a simple address search. Now anyone with access to a computer and a credit card can pay to find out who is potentially haunting their home.
The service comes at a premium though it is relatively affordable depending on how many times you intend to use the service:
- Single Search for $11.99
- Three Searches for $29.99 ($10.00 each)
- Five Searches for $44.99 ($9.00 each)
- Ten Searches for $79.99 ($8.00 each)
You get your results only after you pay, so the chances of no results being found are possible so in that sense it is a gamble. The results come in the form of a report containing information readily available in public records, so you are really paying for the convenience of having this information mined for you and placed into one easy to read report.
In addition to any individuals who died in the home, the report provides the names of any other individuals associated with the property such as previous owners and occupants.
Here is a sample report offered by the website, I cut some of the information out to save space on this entry, but this is the general idea of what the report looks like and some of the information it contains:
Being the naturally curious type, I ponied up the twelve bucks to see if anyone died in the apartment I currently call home. After the report ran I was relieved to know that I am not living in a former crime scene or “deathhouse”. The report did provide me with a lengthy list of previous occupants that I know is somewhat accurate because I will occasionally get mail for one of the previous tenant listed on the report. Additionally my name as well as the name of my roommates show up as tenants at the provided address.
I decided to push the envelope further and see if an address that I know for a fact someone died in would indeed return the expected results. I tapped in the address for my Grandparents’ old house in which my Uncle passed away, I paid my twelve bucks and ran my report.
In this case the report failed to indicate that a death occurred in the home. It did list my Uncle as a previous occupant and indicated that he is deceased, but reports that there is nothing to indicate that he died at the home. (He did)
Unfortunately, I don’t know any other people who have died in a house whose address I know so as to check the accuracy of the service completely.
The service includes an additional report run 30-days from your initial request and the report will be updated with any new information should it be found. That is at no additional cost to you. So there is that, in the event the death was recent enough to not have shown on the original report. In my case, my Uncle died well over 15 years ago so his place of death must not have been recorded as the address of the house.
In the disclosure agreements for use of the site, the customer is clearly made aware of the accuracy and quantity of the report:
- Quantity and Accuracy of the data?
- We do not have or claim to have all of the records in the US. We also do not guarantee the accuracy of the data used in our search process. We cover that in our disclaimer and terms of agreement. A significant amount of paper records were not converted to digital format until the 1990s. The US Government did not start digitizing death records until the 1960s. Even today, there are government records that have not been digitized. Most of our data is from the mid to late 1980s to present. We do have US Government data that reaches back to the 1940s and manual data that can go back even further. If we are not able to find a death record in our search, keep in mind that does not mean that a death has not occurred there. Using public records, we provide our customers with the names of everyone associated with an address and their vitality status. Our instant report saves customers a tremendous amount of time and assists in further research, in the case our customer wants to pursue more information on their own.
- We are committed to continually striving to increase the data and improve the accuracy of the data. We search through over 118 million records and that is only a fraction of the deaths that have occurred in America.
- The information contained in our database is obtained from multiple providers. Our algorithm searches through them, cross references and lastly validates against government records, but even that does not guarantee its accuracy. The government even states that they do not have all of the data or guarantee its accuracy.
- Our disclaimer states that Diedinhouse.com is merely a great tool to use to assist you with finding out if someone has died at a specific address. It is always recommended that before anyone purchases or rents a home, to run a Died in House ™ Report, ask the seller and agent if they are aware of any deaths, speak with neighbors, search the address online and check government records for any information related to the property.
So, what is my official take on this service? I have no clue. The reports seem thorough, and in the future will include a fire history and meth lab history for the property, so it may very well serve a wider market than just those trying to figure out who is haunting them.
Perhaps if more people would have the common decency to die in their home I could have had a broader range of tests subjects. Alas, I only had one that I know of and in that case the report was inaccurate. But it is also a case of GIGO, garbage in/garbage out. If no paperwork from police or the medical examiner listed the residential address as the place of death then it serves that it would not show up in the report.
I imagine the report is more useful for tragic deaths and crime scenes where the physical address of the property is more likely to be captured than say someone dying in their sleep.
So as it stands, there is simply not enough information from my personal experience to say 100% for certain whether http://www.diedinhouse.com is a valuable tool or not for the purpose of paranormal investigations.
Have any of you used this service? If so were your results accurate? Let us know in the comments section below.