This next story comes from an associate real estate broker called Rebecca Slon. “I’ve seen almost everything in 16.5 years of selling real estate. I’ve seen guns and drug paraphernalia alongside children’s toys on a coffee table. Naked people, dirty underwear left on the living room floor when they knew that the house was going to be shown. I’ve seen odd pets, nude pictures on the wall. You name it, I’ve seen it. But one of the strangest things that I’ve ever seen was in a home that seemed very normal on the outside.”
“It was a sprawling ranch style home. 3/2 with a ‘possible 4th’ bedroom. After looking at the house, my client and I couldn’t find the possible 4th until we came to a door off of the laundry room. We opened the door to an all black room with black lights… which is weird enough, right?!? Oh no, it gets better! I tried to think quickly for my client, ‘Maybe it’s a media room or something like that?’ Then I opened up the closet…We instantly knew it wasn’t a media room. There was a carpeted wheel with Velcro straps for wrists and ankles. It seems that they were ‘50 shades of kinky’ before it was cool. We quickly made our exit from the home with quite the story to tell.”
“The most awkward moments I have encountered personally and heard of from my colleagues all involve a client going to the bathroom during the showing. While each story started in the bathroom, the embarrassing end result has had a few different results. One time, a client used the restroom and never flushed, leaving the owner (who was a house flipper) to find a surprise when they checked in on the property. Another time, the client used the restroom and actually clogged the toilet but didn’t say anything and it wound up overflowing. Some repairs had to be made.”
That story came from a real estate investor and broker from Illinois named Bill Samuel. For those of you thinking about buying a house, maybe take this as a lesson. Use the bathroom at home before you leave on the house tour! If it’s such a common problem, you never know what might happen when you’re touring homes.’
29. Wait, You Mean You’re a Real Estate Agent and Not a Chauffeur?
“I had a client who lived close to the area she was shopping in, so I often picked her up, then dropped her off after our tours. It became apparent that she had unrealistic expectations as she kept passing up solid options in hopes of something that just didn’t exist in her price range. After almost a year of this (and me constantly telling myself to chill out- ‘it’ll come together’), it finally came to a head when I had two tours set up for the day. The first one for this client and the second one for a different client in the opposite direction. She was furious that I wouldn’t pick her up and drop her off. When I asked her why she couldn’t drive her own car, she said that she didn’t want to have to search for parking when she got back. Long story short, she fired me.”
Wow! That situation from Itza Mari sounds awful. But it also says a lot about setting expectations up front. Since this real estate agent allowed this woman to take advantage of her, it became a normal thing. So the moment she wasn’t getting a free ride, it was over. Keep in mind that a lot of people are going to try to take advantage of your kindness.
“I showed a house to a gentleman who didn’t want to tell me any of his personal information. For safety measures, I’m required to obtain this information, but it was very awkward when he didn’t want to let me know anything.”
That story came from Jacquetta T. Ragland, owner of Young and Finance in North Carolina. While it’s not necessarily a “crazy” story, it’s still a good example of how difficult it can be to work as a real estate agent. They need someone’s personal information for safety reasons, and yet this guy put her in a really bad spot. What if he caused property damage? Or worse- what if he hurt Jacquetta once he got her alone in a house? A lot can happen, especially for a young female real estate agent working alone.
On the podcast My Favorite Murder, the hosts have a phrase- “f- politeness”. For a lot of victims, being polite is what gets them killed. In this story from Mary Dignan Hill of Compass, we see a perfect example of how it was important for her to follow her gut and get out of there.
“A few summers ago, I went on a listing appointment without Googling my potential seller first. When I arrived, I found the house was a horrible, three-story home, painted an awful shade of salmon and reeked of cigarette smoke, with an equally creepy owner who offered me drinks and insisted that I give myself a tour of his home while he sat in his ‘home bar.’ After over an hour of trying to make a polite exit, I finally left.”
“When I got home, a quick internet search informed me that this man was wanted in another country for molesting over 70 female students. I relayed this creepy story to a colleague of mine, and a couple of days later she called me and said, “Turn on the news!” As it turns out, that morning, the U.S. Marshall showed up to the man’s home to extradite him back to the county where he was wanted. Instead of being arrested, the man shot and killed himself. From this experience, I learned to follow my gut, and if something does not feel right, I do not have to be polite!”
This next story comes from a real estate agent named Beth Kane from Baird & Warner. “I was showing a very old, empty home in Brookfield, IL. I entered the home, turned on all the lights on the first level and stood in the picture window waiting for my clients. First, I heard the thud…OK, the heat just kicked in and it is an OLD house. Then, I heard the shuffling…OK, it is a finished attic and maybe there’s a critter? Last, I heard the squeak of a metal cabinet door…I WAS OUT OF THERE!”
“My clients that day were a police officer and his wife. When he and his wife arrived, I told him what I had experienced. I said we could just leave, or I could give him my pepper spray and we could all walk through together. He chose to walk through…I was hoping for Option A. We walked through the home, it was very pretty and all was quiet. Then we walked upstairs to the finished attic. At that point his wife called my name. As I looked over to her, she opened the bathroom cabinet door that sounded EXACTLY like the noise I heard. I turned beet red because I was so flustered. He laughed at me and she said ‘We’re out of here!’ We still laugh at that story today. I have no clue what exactly made the noises, but I hope I don’t experience that again!
This next story comes from Julie Rabbani of Compass. “When I first started out as an agent I took every client I could to gain experience. One client reached out to me on the Nextdoor app. She was looking for a one bedroom, one bathroom rental under $1,800 a month. Where I’m located, that price is unheard of, but I searched endlessly for her. She had a leg injury so I picked her up and drove her to about seven places where I would have to drop her off in front of the apartment, park then go meet her. Each place she saw she would complain about what she didn’t like. At one viewing she made an agent count with his feet how big the main bedroom was to see if she could fit her bed and nightstands.”
“There was one particular unit she loved that was $600 over what she could pay. She wanted me to give her an offer. When the agent cordially denied it, she was shocked. Following that five-hour day she started sending me listings she found on Zillow and Craigslist. She would call, text and email me all day every day. I told her if it’s not listed on the MLS she needs to contact the landlord directly since they aren’t working with agents. She finally found one on her own. What I learned from that experience is to set boundaries with clients on business hours. The less money they have to put into a home or rental the more challenging the client will be. I now strictly work with buyers and sellers in the market that I chose. I never reject clients but I definitely learned the hard way.”
This next story comes from Holly Meyer Lucas, a real estate agent in Jupiter, Florida. It really goes to show how careful you need to be when walking around a strange property. Nowadays, a lot of people have their face buried in their phone. This is a perfect example of why you need to be aware of your surroundings.
“We sold a house last year and had not one but two people actually fall straight into the pool during showings. One was another realtor who had her face buried in her phone. She walked directly into the pool by accident—phone, clothes, everything was soaked. Not only was she in the pool, but then she had to do the rest of the day with her clients sopping wet. Poor girl!”
This is yet another potentially haunted house story. This time, it’s from a real estate agent who goes by the name Karen R. At least she stayed professional during the whole experience.
“I did a showing at a beautiful home and as I looked at the history of the property, I noticed it had gone into foreclosure three different times. After a little investigating I found out that a number of different things had happened that made the house appear, according to the neighbors, haunted! The electric company would shut down the electricity periodically so the lights would flicker and there were tales of horrible things happening to the various people who lived there.”
“In fact, one of the neighbors moved solely because this house creeped them out so much. Needless to say, when I was showing the house, every floorboard creek or wind rustling sound made me immediately wonder if we were about to have an unexpected supernatural guest! I stuck to the facts and calmly took them through the house, pointing out the pros and cons, all the while hoping they didn’t get spooked.”
This next story comes from author Ali Wenzke in her book calledThe Art of Happy Moving. In this story, she and her husband were trying to sell their townhouse in Chicago. They even ordered special red balloons that said “For Sale By Owner”.
“I asked my husband to pick up the balloons from Party City,” she remembers. “He came back with the red balloons I ordered and then one I didn’t order—a giant, 28-inch, heart-shaped singing balloon. As Dan brought the balloon through the front door, it hit the wall and started singing, ‘I think I love you. So what am I so afraid of?’ The balloon wouldn’t stop singing and covered the entire front door. Dan rushed to stuff the balloon into our car, narrowly missing our first potential buyers.”
This next story comes from Yawar Charlie of Compass. “I was excited to get a listing where I felt the seller was very collaborative. They seemed very positive upfront, and willing to run with the ideas that I suggested. All that deteriorated quite quickly. Once we signed on the dotted line and got into the process, they did a complete 180 personality wise. They did not want to take my suggestions, they were hyper critical, and generally speaking, just had a horrible, negative energy. Nothing I did could please them. Any negative feedback about the property or the price was my fault, and had nothing to do with the challenges that inherently existed with selling their home at their price point. They micromanaged everything, from the marketing, to the showings, to the music that I played.”
“Finally I had had enough, and decided to fire them. This process went on for several months because I wanted to save the listing and make the sale. The biggest lesson that I learned after that was that I had given all of my energy to these clients trying to please their unrealistic expectations. In turn it was negatively affecting the rest of the book of my business because I did not have enough energy to give to my other clients. I called this couple that I fired my ‘energy vampires.’ The biggest lesson I learned was never have those types of people in your life, let alone in your business. Stand your ground, lay out your boundaries and stick to them and most importantly learn how to say no! After my experience with them I literally suffered the real estate version of PTSD.”
“This guy gets in my car with a spreadsheet with 40 questions to ask about each property we are going to see. All the questions are already on the MLS listings I gave them. When we arrive at one house his wife says she does not like the neighborhood as we are walking up to the house. I told them we could move on to the next property. He started asking me his 40 questions. I told him to just scratch it off the list, but he insists. When I took them back to their home, I fired them. By the way, he spilled his coffee in my car, and did not even apologize.”
This story from David Welch of RE/MAX 200 Realty may be a horror story. But the difference between him and the other people on this list is that he quickly cut these clients out of his life. He knew that he didn’t want to deal with it any longer than one day.
“I was working with an affluent couple looking for a considerably large and expensive home. One day I was showing them a house. While presenting myself and the home in what I thought was the most poised manner, I fell down the steps from the second floor to the first floor. When I landed, my skirt was up and completely disheveled. I heard them come after me in shock. Obviously, I was mortified. Oddly, they never did purchase a home with me.”
Ouch. This one came from a real estate agent named Denise Supplee, who is the co-founder of SparkRental.com. It’s a good example of how putting people up on a pedestal is never a good thing. I personally think that Denise just got nervous about working with affluent clients, and it made her become more clumsy than usual.
This next story comes from a real estate agent named Casey K.
“I showed up to a showing and pulled into the driveway. My client had gotten there early, and I realized I was parking her car in, so I backed up to park on the street. Shortly thereafter I basically impaled the side of my car on a fire hydrant. The sound of metal crunching as I struggled to get it free was horrific. I managed to get the car loose, jump out of the door, gather myself and stand in front of the gash in the side of my vehicle to block it from view as I smiled and waved to my client who was just emerging from the backyard. I was a bit shaken for the rest of the showing, but my client was none the wiser (I think) and it didn’t put a damper on showing her the home.”
“I was hosting a busy open house, and the home was vacant, which meant the utilities had been turned off, including the water. About halfway through the open house, I hear a mother shriek from the hall bathroom. She had allowed her son to use the restroom, and this five-year-old laid a load that a buffalo would have been proud of—in a non working toilet! The mother was mortified, and they ran off as quickly as they could. Thankfully, the neighbors had a bucket on the side of the house, which I filled with water and used to fill the tank on the toilet. It flushed just fine, and all was well.”
“I was doing an open house, and my clients had warned me that their cat had a flatulence problem. And a very smelly one at that! Sure enough, every time someone came in, the cat would stand by me and let out the most horrible fart. Everyone was looking at me with a combination of disgust and incredulity. They totally thought it was me, and I think blaming the cat only made them more suspicious!”
“My real estate partner and I had an open house on a new construction home with an asking price around $3 million. The people viewing the home expected high-end finishes and a quality build throughout, which the home had. About halfway through the open house, we heard a weird squeaking noise. A small bird had flown through an open window. My partner tried to convince the bird to fly outside, while I blocked the door and nervously greeted buyers. Fortunately, the bird flew out after only a few minutes, but the people viewing the home must have wondered why I appeared so nervous while guarding the door to a room. In fact, I even heard one of them quietly remark, ‘There must be some wet paint in there.’ I did not correct them.”
That story came from Cyrus Karl. He’s a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Boston. I really hope he ended up selling that house and earning the commission, because that was a crazy story.
This next story comes from a realtor who wanted to go by the name “Kathy”, but she was actually giving the story anonymously. You know it’s bad when you have to hide your name!
“By far the worst client I ever had was a doctor and his wife. These two said they wanted to sell their home and retire in Florida. They couldn’t agree on the price. After signing papers and getting professional photos taken, the wife canceled the listing as ‘the photos don’t represent her property accurately’. The fact I got the house in Newsday was unimpressive to them. On top of that, the wife had a drinking problem. After 2 p.m. in the afternoon she was unapproachable. She called me derogatory names and said they don’t want to pay anything. Soon, they withdrew the listing after speaking with my manager to complain about me.”
“This time the owner screamed at my manager. Why was there a clause in the contract for six months after withdrawing it? Our agency was subject to a commission if there was an accepted offer after the contract ended. The buyer was offered the home for less, but they had to wait six months until our clause in the contract expired so we would not receive a commission. The buyer called her agent, who was also with my agency and chaos ensued. My manager never called the couple back as she felt it wouldn’t gain any positive results. The breach of contract was blatant. And two years later, two different agencies later, they now list their home well below what the offer price was, and still have no buyers in contract. Karma.”
This next story came from an agent named David Rosenberger from Douglas Elliman. In case you don’t know, the term “pieds-a-terre” means occasional use. As in, the client is trying to find an apartment that they can occasionally use without living in it full time. Sort of like an AirBnB, or a co-op. “An attorney who thought he knew it all, used me to look all over downtown for a pied-a-terre. Then one weekend he went looking without me on the Upper West Side—my home turf, no less. He tells me he has found something he likes in a Central Park West Co-op just a few blocks from my office. He has the notion that he will strike a better deal if he goes into negotiations without a broker.”
“I’m shaking my head because: A) I’m not sure that building will allow pieds-a-terre and B) We have been over his financials, and I am familiar with the building in question, which is pretty conservative financially. I have doubts about whether they would approve him, based on the way his other housing debt and business debt were structured. I wished him good luck. Several months later, we ran into one another, and I learned that the board rejected his application. He asked if I wanted to help him again. I thanked him for the opportunity, but politely declined.”
This next story came from Adrian Young, who is a realtor in Lancaster, PA. When she ran into a snake in the basement, she just “noped” out of that situation very quickly..
“I have a fear of snakes. Not a mild fear. A real, heart stopping, underwear-changing fear. My first open house ever was at a renovated farmhouse. Beautiful home, spectacular views, a true gem. I was doing my walk-thru, admiring all this home has to offer, when I decided to check out the finished basement.”
“Down the steps I went. I get to the bottom, turn the corner, and almost step on the largest snake I’ve ever seen! To say I retreated out of the house is putting it mildly. But I’m proud to say I gathered my wits, changed my underwear, and held the open house (although the basement was no longer part of my tour).”
“We started to enter the first floor unit of an investment property when we quickly realized that the tenants were still in the unit. Long story short, they were engaging in sexual activity. As we opened the door to the unit, we were quickly and unexpectedly greeted with loud noises coming from one of the bedrooms. I quickly closed the unit door. To make matters worse, the key ended up getting stuck in the door. I quickly started to panic, as I was afraid the tenants would hear me trying to release the key from the door by very aggressively jiggling at it. Luckily, after a quick prayer, the key released itself and we left swiftly.”
That story came from Colin McDonald, a real estate broker in Albany, New York. I have so many questions as to how this could even happen. What time was it? I’m under the assumption that if you were giving a real estate agent permission to show your house, you’d only do the deed when you knew you’d have some privacy!
This story from Benjamin Ross of the Mission Real Estate Group seems so dumb, it’s hard to comprehend that people can really misunderstand something so basic.
“I met with a young couple who was interested in purchasing a home. The seller was willing to finance with a $10,000 down payment. A young man called me, and I gave him the terms (down payment, interest rate, monthly payment, and the price $150,000). He said they would meet me there to see the home. So, I met them there, and they loved the house. The young woman said, ‘We will take it.’
“I said, ‘Great, and since it is in the middle of the month, we will prorate your first payment. She said, ‘Oh no, we have the $10,000.’ I said ‘OK, that’s good, your first payment will be due a month after the close of escrow.’ Again she looked at me weird and said, ‘payment?’ I said, ‘Yes, to pay off the remaining $140,000.’ She said, ‘You told us the price was $10,000!’ I said that is the down payment. She then got furious, told her husband I was trying to rip them off.”
“She left the house slamming the front door on her way out, yelling at him ‘I will be waiting in the car.’ I asked the guy how she could have thought a three bedroom two bath house on a quarter-acre could be $10,000? He apologized and said he might have explained it to her wrong. I said, Let me know if you find a house for $10,000, and I will offer them $12,000. He then left.”
“I had scheduled an appointment for a house in a not-so-great part of town. I was told they had a day sleeper but that he would leave the residence for the showing. My client and I arrived at the house. We knocked several times and rang the doorbell. I thought to myself, ‘Good, no one here.’ I unlocked the door and we went in.”
“We looked at every inch of the house, opening cabinets and doors. Then it happened! We got to the last bedroom and my client said, ‘Chick, that looks like a dead body in that bed.’ I’m like, ‘No way.’ She walked around the bedroom and all of a sudden this man threw the covers off, sat up and looked at us, and then covered his head back up and went back to sleep! Mind you, I was about to pee on myself at this point, as we were both telling him we were so sorry. ‘We thought you were gone!’ Needless to say I’m a little more leery about bumps in the bed nowadays!”
“This next story came from a real estate agent called Mark C. “My clients and I walked into a house for a showing and it appeared someone was still in the house. Protocol dictates that the client should not be in the home for a variety of reasons during the showing, but my client immediately said to me, ‘I feel like someone is here.’”
“I assured them that the owners knew they should not be home for the showing and we proceeded. As we made our way to the bedroom, I noticed what appeared to be someone hiding under the sheets in their bed. It was easy for me to know it wasn’t a bunch of pillows because, I kid you not, I saw a toe sticking out of the covers. I quickly redirected my clients to another room to view first. While we were in there, I saw the owner sneak out the back door. Surprise encounter averted. Huge sigh of relief!”
This next story comes from a real estate agent called Todd B. It would honestly be surprising if this story isn’t actually a common mistake that real estate agents make.
“I pride myself on being organized and on top of my game. But a few years ago when I was a new agent unfamiliar with the area, I actually showed up at the wrong house for a showing. I toured the whole home alone, waiting for my clients and feeling so good that I would be fully prepared when they arrived. Obviously, they didn’t show, and I was more than a little late for the showing at the right house. I calmly apologized and then told them all about the house I’d seen, which they eventually set up a different showing for!”
This story came from Carlos Gomez, a sales associate at Coldwell Banker East Office in Westfield, New Jersey.
“One time when I was showing a house, the listing agent said to go directly there. I ring the bell and knock on the door and no one answers, so I proceed to use my lockbox and walk in with my buyer. We go through the entire first floor and then proceed to the basement. As we are going to the second floor to see the bedrooms, a naked man walks by the hallway. I tell him that we are showing the house. He starts making his way down the stairs to tell us nobody told him we were coming to see the house today. Note that he was still naked.”
This story came from a real estate agent named Deb Tomaro, who works in Indiana.
“I was showing a house that was empty. The owner’s sons were outside and told me that the owner was elderly and moving to an assisted-living facility. The home was very dated. As I opened a hall coat closet door, a life-size cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber fell out toward me. Scared the living daylights out of me! But the bigger question ended up being: Why did an 80-year-old woman own a life-size cutout of Justin Bieber, and wouldn’t that be something you’d want to take to assisted living with you?”
A realtor named Marissa Gillman Shafer has a unique setup with her business. Her mom is her partner! So they were setting up an open house at a trendy penthouse in Chicago when this happened.
“I was setting up the rooftop deck when I was injured by a heavy steel door,” she remembers. “I was bleeding quite a bit when our first potential buyer arrived. Thankfully, he was a doctor, and he ran to his car to get his emergency kit. He and his friend helped me and tended to my wound in the main bathroom. As the three of us sat in silence in the shower, my mom eagerly said, ‘The good news is that three people can easily fit in the shower.’”
Apparently, it’s a very common problem that real estate agents run into day sleepers. This story comes from Natasha Carroll of Natasha Carroll Realty.
“I was showing a couple a home, and we went in to preview the master suite. We did not realize there was a person sleeping in the bed until we were in the bathroom. He startled us and quickly apologized. This man worked the night shift and totally forgot about the showings. I quickly defused the situation by saying he could stay in the bed and rest while we looked at the home or he could wait outside. He went back to bed while we previewed the home and left. After we got outside, my clients were appreciative of how calmly I handled the situation.”
This next story originally came from RealDeal. It comes from Rena Goldstein. She is the senior vice president at Halstead Property. Some people really take their dogs everywhere. They treat them like kids. So it’s really not surprising that a client would take their dog to a house showing to get their opinion, as if the dog could speak.
“I had an open house in my building, and a neighbor who was not looking to move told me her dog wanted to see the apartment, so she brought him. She walked him through the apartment while I stood there stunned and unable to speak.”
“I work as a broker in a luxury mountain community. Often, I’m walking lots with clients and builders all over the variety of crazy terrain on the mountain. One day last year I was walking a lot with two clients and was pretty far out away from the road that we came in on. The entire time the wife kept bringing up her fear of bears and other wildlife and how uncomfortable she was being out away from everything. The husband kept reassuring her there was nothing to worry about. After an hour or so of walking this property I hear something large running up over the mountain top. I knew right away it was going to be a bear.”
“So I just hoped they never noticed. I was not so fortunate. A 400 to 500 pound bear came over the top of this hill side and is running at us full speed. Granted the bear was not coming after us, he actually was looking out the side and had no idea that we were in front of him yet. I see the wife look up to see this huge bear coming straight at her. She literally just melted to the ground while letting out a horrible scream. I yelled and clapped my hands and sure enough the bear saw us. He put on his brakes about 30 feet from us. The bear paused for a moment and then turned and ran the other way. Of course this happened to the folks scared to death of bears. Clients did not buy, nor did I ever see them again.”