SAN ANTONIO – If walls could talk, some homes across San Antonio would have some sinister and sad tales to tell of death, suicide and murder. When deaths make headlines, a property can be stigmatized.
But what about the deaths people don’t hear about? How would you know if a property has a past? KSAT looked into what sellers have to disclose and a website that claims to reveal a house’s secrets.
Across San Antonio, some homes are rich in history — some horrific. The skull of Monika Rizzo was dug up in the backyard of a home, a mother decapitated her newborn son at another house and beloved restaurateur died when an arrow was shot through her head.
“Death in a home, especially a violent death, can decrease the value 25 percent and taken 50 percent longer to sell,” said Roy Condrey, with Diedinhouse.com.
If you’re house hunting, would you want to know if someone was murdered or simply died in the home?
“A lot of times people just feel the mojo in the house, or just for whatever reason, they just don’t feel comfortable living in a home where someone has passed away,” said Kimberly Howell, a real estate agent.
Howell said how much a buyer is told depends on the disclosure form. The state requires sellers to disclose things such as leaky plumbing, lead pain, termites and even methamphetamine labs. But sellers are not required to disclose deaths on the property unless they were related to the condition to the property. But the Texas Association of Realtors goes further.
“If they were murdered, domestic violence, drug deal gone bad, whatever the reason, if it was a murder, it does ask the specific question and you must disclose that,” Howell said.
To help homebuyers, Condrey created Diedinhouse.com. For $11.99, the website does the public research for a buyer. The website claims to reveal murders, suicides, other deaths and more.
KSAT checked the addresses of four headline-making deaths in the area. Initially, the website found no deaths on any of the properties, but days later, we got reports about two of those violent crimes.
Whether a buyer is intrigued or creeped out by a property’s deadly past, there are ways to find out more. Buyers can ask their real estate agents, do a Google search or ask neighbors about a home’s past.
We asked Condrey about the initial searches that found nothing. He said after the first search, the website does a manual search over the next 30 days for more information. He said the website tries to provide as much information as possible but cannot guarantee to find everything.