The National Association of Realtors' code of ethics also requires its licensed agents to avoid "exaggeration, misrepresentation or concealment of pertinent facts" relating to a property.
In its online tip sheet for agents, the association cites a Texas case in which the sellers were forced to buy back their house because they did not disclose that a next-door neighbor had a habit of leaving her house naked and cursing loudly.
"If in doubt, disclose, disclose, disclose," Beitz says. "Because I can guarantee, as soon as a new buyer buys a house, the neighbors are going to come running over as fast as they can and say, 'Guess what, there's been a paranormal investigation team at this house' or 'There's been a crime team here.' Neighbors will blab."
Partin's situation ended amicably. She learned the history of her property (the original Holmes house was demolished long ago) from the ghost tour organizers and also was able to share a few ghost stories of her own. The house truly is haunted, she says. Kitchen drawers open and close — her cat got trapped in one. Beds sometimes turn down and an iron skeleton key inexplicably bent itself in half.
But the ghosts are benevolent, she says, and she and her partner, Wendi Garringer, have made their peace with them. They have no regrets about buying the house, but say a friendly heads-up from the sellers would have been nice.
"If somebody had said, 'By the way, there's a little bit of ghost activity, and by the way, you are on the ghost tour, I might have thought, 'OK, that's kind of neat. We love the house. We'll go ahead and buy it."
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on September 17, 2010.
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