Fictional Characters Aren't Above NAR's Code of Ethics
Like many other stay-at-home moms who dream of financial freedom and an excuse to get out of the house, Marge Simpson pursued her real estate license in an episode of the long-running animated series, The Simpsons. The episode is titled “Realty Bites”, and it aired on 12/7/1997. But did the Simpson’s matriarch break either the law or NAR’s Code of Ethics when she tried to offload the site of a grisly murder on an unsuspecting Ned Flanders?
The CE Shop team is here to uncover the truth, no matter the cost.
Marge Simpson, Real Estate Agent
Before we call Police Chief Wiggum, let’s set the scene.
Bored at home (and tired of Homer’s endless shenanigans), Marge longed for a more exciting life. After running into Lionel Hutz and learning that he was the Broker-Owner of Red Blazer Realty, she decided to pursue real estate licensure herself.
Marge initially struggled with her studies, likely because she didn’t have an interactive Exam Prep study program to assist. Despite her fears (and with her children’s’ encouragement), she successfully passed her real estate licensing exam.
Soon after, Marge joined Red Blazer Realty to work alongside Hutz, Cookie Kwan, Nick Callahan, and Gil Gunderson.
The Struggles of Selling Springfield
After kicking off her real estate marketing campaign with a billboard ad, Marge began knocking on doors to find leads. However, she quickly discovered that her honest assessments of listed properties and buyers weren’t landing any sales. For example, she told Dr. Hibble that she had always loved his current home, thus convincing him not to move during their house tour.
Marge’s dedication to the truth delighted her prospective customers, though none of them ended up purchasing or selling property with the blue-haired agent. In a one-on-one with her boss, she emphasized her desire to find the right home for the right buyer. In response, Hutz said, “The right house is the house for sale. The right person is everyone.”
After sharing some methods to spin the truth and make lackluster properties more palatable for buyers, Hutz told Marge that she would be fired if she didn’t make a sale in her first week. Full of anxiety about potentially lying to her clients, she set her sights on serving the Flanders, her next-door neighbors.
Initially, Marge tried to spin the properties as Hutz suggested. A tiny house became a cozy house, and a dilapidated home was repackaged as “rustic”. But every time Ned Flanders went to pull out his pocketbook, her morals got the best of her — that is, until they reach Springfield’s murder house.
The Springfield murder house had been on the market for ages. As it turns out, selling a property in which multiple people were stabbed to death is tricky.
Despite the fact that this home was considered “unsellable” by her brokerage, Marge took the Flanders family around the property. The buyers quickly fell in love with the ample space, taking to it like Homer takes to donuts.
Before signing his deposit check, Ned asked Marge if there was anything he needed to know about the property before purchasing it. Nervously, she said no, choosing not to disclose the crimes committed therein. Ned handed over his $10,000 deposit check, and Marge begged him to let her know if the slightest thing went wrong.
Plagued by guilt and fears that something terrible could happen to her former neighbors, Marge later returned to the murder house. She walked in to find the entire Flanders clan laying on the ground, splattered in a crimson-red liquid.
The startling sight caused her to shout that there was indeed something she needed to tell them about the house. Luckily, the Flanders were simply sleeping on the ground while covered in paint, as one does after a hard day of home renovations.
After hearing her confession, the family decided that they were thrilled to be a part of Springfield history and wanted to live in the murder house. Regardless, Marge offered to return Flanders’ check because she had lied to them. While they initially refused her offer, Ned ended up asking for his deposit back shortly thereafter because Homer crashed a car through the front door. She returned their check and was promptly fired from Red Blazer Realty.
Did Marge Simpson Break NAR’S Code of Ethics or Real Estate Disclosure Law?
First, let’s address a common misconception about NAR’s Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics only applies to REALTORS®, aka members of the National Association of REALTORS®. Since we didn’t see Marge become a REALTOR® in this episode, she simply wasn’t bound to these rules.
However, that doesn’t mean that she and her peers at Red Blazer Realty wouldn’t have violated one of the 17 Code of Ethics articles had they been REALTORS®. The Code of Ethics strives to protect clients and the general public from shady real estate dealings, including but not limited to real estate agents who conceal, exaggerate, or willfully misinterpret the facts relating to a piece of property. Thus, anyone who followed Hutz’s lead at Red Blazer Realty and misconstrued the properties they were selling would have broken the Code of Ethics.
But what about the disclosure laws in her state? Well, first we need to determine where the Simpsons live.
If you’re a diehard Simpsons fan, you’re likely rolling your eyes right now. After all, being unable to correctly assess where Springfield is located has been a running gag since just after the beginning of the show’s 33-season run. That’s why we had to dig into a theory — a Film Theory, to be more precise:
According to pop culture fan, YouTuber, and dedicated researcher MatPat and his team, the Simpsons live in Washington. They found the solution to one of primetime’s longest-running riddles by working backward and determining where Springfield isn’t, eventually landing in the Evergreen State through the process of elimination.
Do Washington Agents Have to Disclose a Murder?
So, did Marge Simpson break Washington disclosure laws when she failed to inform the Flanders of the murder that occurred on the listed property?
No, indeed she did not. Washington is one of many states that doesn’t require sellers or their agents to disclose stigmatizing events, including murder. In fact, there isn’t even a “murder” option listed on the state’s official disclosure form.
It looks like Marge won't have to go to the clink after all.
The hero image was sourced from The Simpsons's official Twitter account.
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