Does tragedy haunt your dream home? Website scares up the answer

WASHINGTON — They’re scarier than spiders, snakes, clowns or a Beltway shutdown — diminished property values.

Nothing spooks a homeowner or prospective buyer more than the risk of a lower resale price. A good home inspection can help mitigate that risk, but it can’t uncover everything.

For instance: Did someone die there? Was someone murdered there? Could actual spooks be spooking up the place?

That’s where Roy Condrey comes in. The South Carolina resident is the CEO and president of DiedInHouse.com, a service that, for $12, will look into any U.S. property’s past to see if it’s “stigmatized.”

Condrey’s site uses a combination of public records, private data and a proprietary algorithm to build each report, which also includes any information about any fire damage, flood damage and methamphetamine activity. (Here’s a report for one famous D.C. address.)

But make no mistake: Death is its bread and butter.

While he doesn’t claim to be an authority on the supernatural, Condrey said that some buyers do indeed take this kind of stuff very seriously.

“It has been proven that murder-suicide or a violent death can depreciate the value of a home,” said Condrey. He cited, among others, Long Island’s famous “Amityville Horror” house, the site of six murders in 1974. Its value has dropped nearly 30 percent since 2010, according to Zillow.

“They always try to sell the house for comparable values,” he said of such stigmatized properties. “It just keeps tiering down in price.”

Indeed, a home where a known tragedy has occurred can “take a long time to sell,” wrote Redfin’s Alina Ptaszynski in an email.

People don’t like to talk about this thing for fear of being stigmatized themselves, Condrey said, but business has been good since the site’s launch in 2013. 

“I don’t do any marketing at this point, and we’re in business, and that’s because people are buying our reports, and there is a need for it,” he said.

Redfin agents, Ptaszynski wrote, recommend simply Googling an address before making that offer.

That’s not enough for other realtors, apparently. Some seem to be ordering DiedInHouse.com’s reports, Condrey said.

“They don’t necessarily contact us and tell us they do,” he said. “I see their domain names.”

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