It was a brisk fall day in 2021 when Carter stopped by to check on the unoccupied Newton Avenue property Zuri Xiong had vacated. ad not been maintained very well over the years, and it needed a lot of work to be ready for market. Apart from adding to her to-do list, she wanted to make sure the property was safe and secure.
“Before I even opened the front door, I could hear the sound of rushing water,” Carter recalled. “’What the hell?’ I said. And when I walked in, the house was flooded.” A water pipe had burst.
An immaculate dresser, Carter never left her house without stylish high heels and a matching ensemble. The prospect of crossing flooded floors and trekking down to the water main in a basement pooling with ankle-deep murk was horrifying.
“By the time I get to that valve, my clothes are wet, my hair’s wet, and with my long fingernails in the way, I just can’t turn it off. So, I’m just freaking out.” Eventually, with some persistence and ingenuity, Carter twisted the valve shut. The roaring water slowed to a trickle, but the house was now literally and metaphorically underwater. It would be a long soggy road to closing. But Carter was not easily deterred. Following a quick call to a cleaning service that deals with house floods, two men arrived in a truck with an impressive array of equipment.
“They looked like a couple of Ghost Busters,” Carter said, recalling her first impression of the friendly young men in coveralls who carried complex, steam-punkish cleaning machines. She was impressed by how jovial and good humored they were. As if sucking all the water out of a flood zone was a weekend romp. Waiting in the warmth of her car while the technicians drained the domestic swamp, Carter made calls and tried to reclaim some of her lost business day. When the men finally emerged from the house, she noticed their demeanor had changed. They seemed uneasy, even agitated.
“They weren’t giggling anymore,” Carter observed. “They were just looking at each other, kind of nervous. I thought maybe they found extensive water damage inside the walls. Something really bad. So, I asked them what was going on.”
With so many of us believing that things going bump in the night might come from beyond the grave, are Realtors® obligated to tell prospective buyers that a house might be haunted? The answer, quite simply, is no. According to Minn. Stats. § 513.56 and 82.68, sellers and real estate licensees do not have to disclose that a property was the site of a suicide, accidental or natural death, even if these events are the source of stories about hauntings.
Whether the photo taken in the basement of that Newton Avenue home was full of spirits or shadows, Carter was reluctant to set foot in it again.
“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the spirit world, but I don’t mess around with it either,” she said.
Still, she didn’t hesitate to step up for her client. Going far beyond her fiduciary duties, she often drove Zuri Xiong to appointments with her attorney, and put in extra hours to find a buyer. Finally, in early 2022, it all paid off. Carter found an investor willing to take on the house’s long list of repairs and renovations. And the attorney helped Zuri Xiong reach an equitable agreement with her stepchildren. The house closed in March.
“Zuri Xiong has a nice little nest egg now, and she’s building a new life,” Carter said. “That’s why I got in this business, and that’s why I’m sticking around. I’m here to help people find a place they can call home.”
*The name of Carter’s client has been changed to protect her privacy.
**Nelson, whose name has been changed, declined to be interviewed for this story. His statements about the spectral incident and the photo were recounted by Carter.