Shopping for a new home or apartment? Worried it might once have been the scene of murder, suicide or murder-suicide? Then there's a new real estate tool for you: DiedInHouse.com, which answers the question, "Has anybody ever died in this house?"
DiedInHouse is the brainchild of Roy Condrey, who tells ABC News that he came up with the idea after a tenant of his complained that the property Condrey had rented him was haunted. Condrey did an online search to determine if anybody had ever died at the address, but it revealed little. Nor was a search of county documents productive.
Condrey says that prior to his website, there had been no "one-stop shopping" service to find out if anyone has ever died, been killed or committed suicide at a given address. DiedInHouse (the site's mainpage is pictured above) uses a proprietary algorithm to crunch data drawn from newspaper accounts, real estate records and death notices. The customer pays $11.99 for a report containing the answers to such questions as: Has someone ever died at this address? Who? When? What was the cause of death? It also gives the "vitality status" of any previous residents of the property.
Asked what "vitality status" means, Condrey says that he tries to give customers more than just a simple yes or no as whether a death has occurred. "We don't have all the records," he says, "but we do have millions of them. This gives the customer a list of everyone who's ever been associated with the address-previous residents and their relatives. On that list, we tell you who's been reported as deceased." A customer can use the other names to ask Realtors and sellers if they know these persons' status.
Neither the seller nor the realtor has a legal obligation to disclose deaths associated with a property, says Condrey. Yet death, he says, can very much affect the value of a home. He cites the example of Janet Milliken, who in 2007, according to court documents, bought a home in Thornton, Pa., not knowing it had once been the scene of a murder-suicide. On eventually leaning the home's macabre history, she sought to void the purchase and to sue the seller and agent to recover her money. Although a court acknowledged the home's history caused it to be worth less than comparable homes untouched by death, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the trial judge's finding that there was no obligation by the seller to reveal its history.
Condrey, whose site was launched in June, says its traffic has grown dramatically since October, when it got about 61,000 unique visits. Unique visits now stand at more than 730,000 a month. He credits Halloween publicity in part.
Condrey says famed "doomsday appraiser" Randall Bell has estimated that a violent death can reduce the value of a property by up to 25 percent and increase by 50 percent how long it takes to sell. Bell, whose firm, RealEstasteDamages.com, values both residential and commercial properties, tells ABC News that mass murder can be "very detrimental" to commercial value. He cites a case in Hawaii where a disgruntled employee opened fire on his colleagues in an office building. The difference, he says, between residential and commercial death sites is that the value of commercial ones tend to snap back more quickly.
Ronald "Butch" DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family in this home in 1974. The home, nicknamed the "Amityville Horror House," and the subject of a book and movie series, is claimed to be haunted.
Fashion writer Christa Worthington of Harper's Bazaar and The New York Times was found murdered in this home on Cape Cod in 2002. Four years later, sanitation worker Christopher McCowen was convicted of the crime.
It was in this condominium building that Steven Schulhoff was beaten to death with a baseball bat in 2004 by his daughter Courtney's boyfriend, Michael Morin, after the pair (pictured) conspired to kill him.
Mining heiress Elisabeth Congdon's body was found in a bedroom wing of this mansion. Her night nurse, Velma Pietila, was also found dead on the staircase landing of the 39-room home facing Lake Superior in 1977. Congdon's son-in-law was convicted of second degree murder in the case.
This modest 879-square-foot home has been the setting for two unrelated homicides. In 1990, 69-year-old Joyce C. Crandall was shot and stabbed multiple times, and later discovered by a Meals-on-Wheels volunteer. Timothy Granderson, a neighbor's son who did odd-jobs around the house for Crandall, was charged with the murder. Then in 2009, homeowner Barnell Amos and 9-year-old houseguest Devin Elliot were shot during a late-night robbery. These latter murders remain unsolved, and the three-bedroom house sits vacant. If it is someday listed for sale, Michigan state property disclosure laws do not require agents to share the home’s history with buyers.
In one of Indiana's most notorious crimes, 16-year-old Sylvia Likens was tortured to death at this house in 1965 by a woman who was paid to care for her, that woman's two children and two neighborhood youths.
This was the Edgemoor Street home of the Otero family, four members of which died there at the hands of notorious Wichita serial killer Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK killer. Dennis Rader received 10 life terms and a "hard 40" for the 10 murders he committed over nearly 30 years.