You’d be surprised how many people are repelled by the thought of living in a home where somebody has died, be it peacefully or by violent means. I can’t imagine that all these people believe in ghosts, or that bad karma is hanging around… but isn’t that what burning sage is for? (Unless your house is the “Murder House” from American Horror Story, in which case, you are probably reading this from the afterlife.)

If you live in a house where someone died, you may have questions about how much, if anything, you have to disclose to potential buyers. This is common in cases where grandparents or elderly parents pass away under in a home and leave the house to younger relatives. In worse cases, where there has been a murder or other violent death (like suicide) in the home, the house may be viewed as damaged goods, because it is perceived as notorious or riddled with the aforementioned bad juju. What to do?

In Virginia, unlike in other states, sellers have minimal obligations to report a house’s gruesome past to a prospective buyer. In this state, agents only have an obligation to tell buyers information about defects that the sellers have disclosed, which may be minimal to nothing. Of course, the agent may find things out from their own reconnaissance. But the fact of the matter is that Virginian home buyers have the burden of doing their due diligence in investigating the background of a home they are considering buying. 

Here’s the big one, however: if prospective buyers ask an agent specific questions about a property (such as: “Hey, has anyone kicked the bucket here?”), the agent is required to answer truthfully, even knowing that it may sink the sale. Therefore, my advice is to be frank with buyers about any ghosts - real or imagined - that you have hiding in the attic. They may turn tale and run, but at least you won’t be bothered by guilt - or by seriously irritated new homeowners a few years down the line. 

For concerned buyers, it is recommended that you do your research before buying a house. Google the address, for a first thing. After that, consider getting in touch with your local police agency to inquire about the history of your potential new house, along with the surrounding neighborhood. As a final resort, there are websites like, which maintain death records for properties all over the United States. You’ll shell out a few bucks for a report, but you will have done your due diligence.