The impact of after-death cleanup on property values

As unpleasant as it can be to think about or deal with, death is something that we all have to handle in one way or another throughout our lives. In the aftermath of the loss of life, our first thoughts surely do not turn to financial matters. However, the subject might force its way into the conversation later if we need to sell the property in question.

In such cases, death can significantly affect real estate value, depending on several factors which we will address. In this article, we will look at the key points involved in asking the question: Does death in a house decrease its value? First things first:

Are you obligated to disclose a death when selling a property?

This largely depends on the state in question and in some cases the nature of the death itself. For example, neither Virginia nor North Carolina, where Aftercare operates our biohazard cleanup services, require disclosure.

In most states, death is not considered to be a ‘defect’ or ‘material fact’ in the eyes of the law and it is, therefore, not your legal obligation to divulge it. Whether or not you feel you have a moral obligation to reveal any issues is a matter you must decide for yourself.

Some states require full disclosure about deaths on the premises only when requested. You would surely be opening yourself to potential lawsuits if the buyer learns about any deception later. The bottom line is, you need to research the exact requirements and legal responsibilities in your area and act accordingly.

The nature of any death is key

The way any property will be viewed by potential buyers is heavily contingent on the nature of any death that occurred there. Particularly:

  • How recently it occurred
  • The manner of the death
  • The extent of the cleanup process
  • Any associated aggressions or ongoing situation

Let’s be honest, if an aged relative passes away peacefully sleeping in their favorite chair, the chances are this will not be viewed too negatively by prospective buyers. Anything aggressive, violent, or otherwise disturbing in nature is much more likely to stir anxious feelings and will surely deter the easily spooked and those who dwell on such things. 

Some other things that can negatively affect property prices include:

  • Violent crimes or other criminal activity
  • Generally unsafe neighborhoods
  • Nearby cemeteries
  • Drug-based activities

    The impact of after-death cleanup on property values

    Provided the incident leading to the death did not physically damage the property, the loss of value is in its perception and any stigmas that have become attached to it. Some people are inherently very superstitious and twitchy when it comes to violent or disturbing events and their apprehension is what drives the issue. If the death was one that required the services of a professional cleanup crew like the team at Aftercare, those images of hazmat suits and industrial equipment would have spread far and wide. 

    It may be that buyers are concerned about the notoriety associated with a property, especially if the morbidly curious tend to pay random visits and take photographs. Rumors and legends about incidents of this nature do not easily leave the local consciousness and may certainly be a dissuading factor.

    Unlike the process of cleaning up after accidents and deaths, knowing how the value of the property will be affected is by no means an exact science. The nature of the community surrounding the property is hugely significant. In these days of isolation and distance from our neighbors and local communities, there may be no real rumor mill in the area. An unfortunate incident requiring professional cleanup services is unlikely to remain in the hearts and minds of city-dwellers in the same way it might in more tight-knit, rural, and suburban communities. 

    Is there any way to lessen the impact on property value?

    Each incident and location is totally unique but some factors and desirable features which might help the property retain most of its value include:

    • Modern features and appointments
    • High-quality interior decoration
    • Spotless, well-maintained exteriors
    • Safety features like composite doors and security systems
    • Valued additions like swimming pools

    When attempting to sell a ‘tainted’ property, ensuring it is in the best possible condition is crucial. Any enhancements or other appealing elements play their part in mitigating the effects of an unfortunate history. Some factors the seller cannot affect, but which also play a vital role include:

    • Desirable locations
    • Large and spacious dimensions
    • Sought-after school districts

    Does death in a house decrease its value?

    It is not certain prospective buyers will even be aware of the history of the property in question. However, if they are, it really comes down to how disturbing or unpleasant the situation was and whether it entered the local folklore. Humans are both blessed and cursed with vivid imaginations and even though they will never see the actual events or aftermath themselves, it disturbs them to imagine awful scenes there. You may have to accept your property will lose some value after a shocking death but a thorough, professional cleanup can help limit the damage. 

    Contact us

    At Aftercare, our reputation for providing high-quality, emergency remediation services in Eastern Virginia and North Carolina has grown across two decades of hard work and dedication. If you need professional, discreet emergency cleanup services at any time of the day or night, please do not hesitate to get in touch and speak with our experienced staff members. We can have a team at your location extremely quickly and help you to remove any unpleasant materials efficiently and respectfully.