Mass fraud, arson threats, murder, organized crime, kidnapping: What are the limits of ‘buyer beware’?

This column was originally published on

In an episode of The Simpsons in the late ’90s, Marge Simpson takes a job as a real estate agent to make some extra cash. She made her first sale by selling a big, reasonably priced home to the Flanders family.

In her haste to close the deal and despite her better judgment, she failed to disclose one small detail: a number of high-profile homicides happened at the property and it was dubbed the “murder house” as a result.

We did not learn much about the killings other than they were known as the “Jealous Jockey Murders.” One intended victim survived by hiding in the butler’s pantry and there was some sort of “torso heap” in the living room.

Eventually, Marge’s conscience got the better of her and she disclosed the information after the Flanders had moved into the home. She offered to unwind the deal, but the Flanders were surprisingly okay with it and were happy to be “a part of Springfield history.”

That story may sound far-fetched, but what if something like that happened in real life? What would be the repercussions for the buyers, sellers and agents?

Well, scenarios like that have actually played out in the real world and the results have been mixed.