Is it an agent’s responsibility?

by Justin da Rosa07 Apr 2017
This frightening instance of a homebuyer being stalked by a former owner begs the question: Would you have informed the buyer about the potential for distress?

Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased a New Jersey home for $1.4 million June 2014. Days later, they received frightening letters from a someone who referred to themselves as the “Watcher.”

"Why are you here? I will find out," one letter read. "My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time."

"Have they found what is in the walls yet?" another letter continued. "In time they will. I am pleased to know your names and the names now of the young blood you have brought to me."

And in late March, the Broadduses’ lawyer claimed the couple had recently received a latter following the occupancy of a new tenant that was “more derogatory and sinister than any of the previous letters,” the Associated Press reported.

After receiving the first letters, the family – which includes young children – tried to move out but couldn’t find anyone who wanted to buy the home.

No surprises there.

They eventually sued the previous owners, alleging they too received letters from the “Watcher.”

The previous owners countersued, citing defamation.

So it begs the question: If, as the current owners claim, the previous tenants did receive the letters – and also assuming the listing agent knew about it – should the seller and agent have disclosed the information?

Have your say below.


Related stories:
Disclosing a death prior to selling
Agent: Assignment clauses aren’t entirely unethical

COMMENTS

  • by Sandy stinson 4/7/2017 11:33:18 AM

    This is a really good question .
    I always disclose everything I know about a house as I live in a small town and the buyers could one day become a friend or at least a friend of one of my family or other friends and I would hate to be thought unethical as I consider myself to be ethical. So in my 25 year practice I have noticed that sometimes out of town realtors get the edge as they come into town and can honestly answer that they know nothing !!
    Sandy stinson
    Remax Lake cowichan

  • by Hong Wang 4/7/2017 12:01:01 PM

    It is a good question and I think whatever comes out of the lawsuits will be the foundation of the right answer. If I am the seller's realtor, I need to follow their lawful instructions, I can't imagine the sellers would want to disclose this info because they would not be able to sell. So the real question is: is it illegal for the sellers not to disclose they are getting these mails from a psyco? If the current owners win the suit that still doesn't mean the realtor is at fault because she or he wouldn't have known the judgement ahead of time ; if they lost then good for the realtor not disclosing because otherwise he or she had put the client's best interests in jeopardy and would have broke the realtor's code.

  • by Catharine Inniss 4/7/2017 12:18:06 PM

    Absolutely. If your overall values are such that the Golden Rule applies, as it is supposed to, there should be no doubt in your mind.

    I really wonder why the listing agent and the sellers could have any doubt that this should be disclosed. It could be a very dangerous situation.

    It is laughable that we are supposed to reveal "ghosts" and previous deaths in houses. There is no evidence to prove that ghosts exist, and to me it is like stating that fairies or elves live in the house. And someone passing away in a house is hardly a threat to new owners.

    A person calling him or herself "The Watcher" and sending letters full of veiled threats is definitely something sinister and actually real. Disclose. And not to cover your own a**. Disclose because you are a human being full of decency and care for your fellow man.

    If not, get out of the business and start a new career that does not involve or influence people.

    I know what you are wondering. What do I really think? lol

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