Homebuyers' House Tour Includes Dead Body

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A real estate agent in Notting Hill, London thought the homeowner was asleep on the couch when he showed prospective buyers a $1.3 million home. Turns out the owner was dead.

Agent Samuel Allfort said he had taken the couple around the home and left the lounge room until last in the hope that owner Katherine Frame would wake up by the time the viewing ended, according to The Daily Telegraph. When she hadn't awakened, the Marsh and Parsons agent walked the couple outside then went back in the home to try and wake her. When he noticed her yellow complexion, he called paramedics, who informed him that the owner had died.

Similarly, a couple touring a home in Janesville, Wisc. found its owner dead in her bed. Justin and Colleen McKeen found the body of 55-year-old Linda O'Leary in the bedroom while their agent was standing in the dining room. The agent knew something was wrong -- not from an odor in the house or the sink full of dishes -- but when she heard Mrs. McKeen scream.

Many agents and prospective buyers have strange encounters while touring homes, from teenagers smoking pot to couples being intimate in bedrooms. Although one can ever predict what will be on the other side of that front door, there are ways that agents can help shield their clients from embarrassing or even grisly encounters. The agents in the Notting Hill and Janesville could have taken other precautions, say experts.

Agents Should Make Sure Rooms Are Clear


Mariana Wagner, a Keller Williams agent in Colorado Springs, told HousingWatch that she tends to walk in ahead of clients -- to check out each room to make sure things are in an OK viewing condition. She says that a colleague of hers once encountered a man who had died sitting on the toilet, and she herself has encountered a lady passed out drunk on a sofa and unsuspecting teens smoking in a basement.

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She says that she would not hesitate to tell her clients exactly what she saw: "If the owner was passed out drunk on the couch, I don't want my client to be in a contract with a person like that."


The Right Thing to Do Is to Leave

Agents also say that if a homeowner is present, asleep or not, they will not proceed with the showing. "I would leave and call the agent and say, 'We will come back later, if my client hasn't found a house by then,' " says Wagner. "There is way too much competition out there to deal with an unsafe environment."

But sometimes it's not the sleeping or the passed-out that are encountered. Sometimes people are wide awake and frisky.

The son of a property owner whose Naperville, Ill. home is on the market, found a real-estate agent showing his client a bit too much last month. Police discovered the 46-year-old real estate salesman from Morris, Ill. and his client, a 25-year-old Chicago man, naked in the master bathroom, reports TribLocal.


Document, Document, Document

A agent in Maple Grove, Minn. who has since had his license revoked, allegedly was caught in August in a "sexual escapade" at the home of his clients, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. As neighbors of its out-of-town owners were checking on noise in the home, the clients lawsuit says, they encountered Coldwell Banker agent Steven Skar with another man, and subsequently found used towels strewn around the bathroom, an open bottle of lotion in the kitchen, and soiled sheets, couch, carpet and other surfaces.

Greg Nino, a Re/Max West Houston agent, says he has also encountered people in compromising positions, but when it comes to death or a home that appears to be in some sort of unusual disarray, "You have to let common sense take over. You have to be cool, calm and smart about what you're doing. Call the police, take a picture with your cell phone and get out of the house."

Also, he says, while things are still fresh in your mind, take written notes. "Because you may need to have the detailed information or specifics later. It could be a murder or suicide and if someone was murdered you could be questioned as a suspect." Or at least your notes might come in hand for other purposes.

See more on HousingWatch about homes that were death or crime scenes.

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