Startup Q&A: Roy Condrey, Founder, DiedInHouse.comLast Updated: May 1, 2020
DiedInHouse.com founder Roy Condrey is breaking new ground in property transactions in the US, with a service that can search the history of a property to determine if it carries any dark secrets, prior to your signing the contract. Roy spoke to AGENT about the history of his startup to date.
DiedInHouse.com solves a significant problem, both for household property owners and tenants in the United States. Roy Condrey, founder, DiedInHouse.com, set up the business as a database to help property hunters find out everything about the history of a particular house before signing any contracts.
…in many US states, death in a home is not regarded as a material defect of the property.
Roy was inspired to create this due diligence database when one of his own tenants texted him in the middle of the night, asking if he knew his house was haunted. A curious—and probably spooked—Condrey was unable to find any proof or data online confirming whether his property had been the site of some gruesome crime or fatality. He also discovered that in many US states, death in a home is not regarded as a material defect of the property and so does not have to be disclosed.
Establishing the business in 2013, DiedInHouse uses data from more than 130m police records, new reports, old death certificates and more to determine the history of your house. While he emphasises that a DiedInHouse report should be regarded as a part of a prospective homeowner’s or tenant’s due diligence process, the company has sold more than 40,000 property reports to date. With a website redesign due in the near future, he anticipates this will increase further.
Already DiedInHouse.com can be used to search properties in all 50 US states, and an expansion to other countries is among Condrey’s plans for growth. Roy, who is also at the helm of a software company called Simply Put Solutions in Chapin, South Carolina, took some time out to climb into the AGENT Startup Hotseat and answer our questions about his career to date.
1. Very simply, what does your company do?
DiedinHouse.com is the first of its kind. It’s a web-based service that helps you find out if anyone has died at an address before you decide to buy or rent the property. Each report includes the following information about an address: records of death occurrences; reported meth lab activity; past fire-related incidents; and a list of names associated with the address.
New features include an indicator of registered sex offenders living at the address, and the number of registered sex offenders living in the area and a list of addresses. We’re now working on making the report even more comprehensive by adding flood zone, standard property and neighborhood information.
2. What was the ‘Eureka!’ moment?
“The idea came about when a tenant of mine texted me in the middle of the night, asking if I knew the house was haunted.”
The idea came about when a tenant of mine texted me in the middle of the night stating, “Do you know your house is haunted?” I did not know its history, so I started researching online. I was looking for a “CarFax” for homes if you will, a DiedinHouse.com, and I did not find such a site. Doing a Google search, I found pages and pages of people asking the same question. The advice I found was to ask the agent, seller, neighbors, check online and with local government agencies. I discovered that the process is easier said than done, not to mention very time-consuming.
I discovered that most States do not consider a death in a home to be a material defect, therefore, it is not required to be disclosed. I also found many stories of home buyers that are now uncomfortable in their new homes because they learned after moving in that a death occurred there and it was not disclosed to them. I learned that in most cases after a tragic death occurs, the house is listed for comparable values of other homes in the area.
If the home does not sell to an unsuspecting buyer or an informed buyer who does not care (which is rare) then it usually is tiered down in pricing and finally reaches foreclosure/bank auction.
At that point an investor buys it at a discount, cleans it up and resells it to a unsuspecting buyer for the comparable value or at least more than they paid. Then after moving in the new owners sometimes find out about the death. At that point they wish they’d known the information before buying the home. Now they are stuck in the home, and may not be comfortable with the news but have to make the best of it. Then when they sell, they have to decide whether to disclose.
I am guessing that most choose not to, because it could impact their value and sale. Long story short, I saw a need to provide a service to help disclose this information for people who care to know before they buy or rent a home.
3. What were you doing before starting?
I was a contract software development project manager.
4. How are you funded?
DiedInHome.com is self-funded. We paid ourselves back within six months and now the company is funding itself.
5. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting their own company?
Partner with and hire experienced, knowledgeable, hard-working, open-minded people, who share your passion for the company.
6. What item would you never leave the house without?
My iPhone and wallet.