If someone dies in a house does it affect the sale price?

Murder House

Murder HouseA few clients over the years have asked me “if someone dies in a house does it affect the sale price?” When something tragic happens in a home, and it becomes very public knowledge, the property can be called ‘a stigmatized property‘. When people ask if stigmatized properties sell for less, my answer is – “it depends”.

Estate Sale of a Home

The biggest factor impacting the price of a home when someone has passed away is always how the general public at large perceives the death. Many older residents pass away in their homes and the only public mention is an obituary. In fact some buyers scour the obituaries to identify potential properties before the are listed for sale by the estate. Estate sales have some pricing complexity but it is not due to a person passing away in the home.

How Do You Sell a Murder House?

Every city has a house or two that are known as ‘that murder house’. One case in Mason, Ohio where there was a particularly grizzly incident, the home was set on fire and damaged. Rather than repair it the bank, who took possession, tore it down and left the land vacant. The bank simply did not think that there would be a buyer for the home based on the public perception.

Yet there is a pool of buyers who are unconcerned about what took place in the home before they moved in. They are simply interested in a deal, and a stigmatized home can often be purchased below fair market value.

How long can a house be stigmatized?

That is a tough question to answer. It all depends on how public perception changes over time. If the story persists in the media and public consciousnesses the stigma can last for years or even decades. While buying a stigmatized house could save you money be prepared to sell it for less for the same reason you bought it for less.

How Do I Know if Someone Died in my Cincinnati House, or if it is a Stigmatized House?

The first step to take is to work with a real estate agent who is from the area and has a strong history of sales. They know the market and can help you understand the market better. You can also just Google the home address and search for article. There are also services such as Died in House that runs a registry.

As a parting though – when celebrities die in their homes they become stigmatized to. Here are an interesting few examples.

If you are looking for a new home, stigmatized or not, call me. I’d love to set up a time to talk about your real estate needs.

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