1. Stealing Medication During Open HouseAt the top of our horror story list is the open house incident, in Oregon, the owner was selling her own property a couple of years ago. She let buyers walk through her home at their own pace. When one visitor did not return for a long time, she went searching for him and found him rifling through the kitchen cabinets. She asked him what he was looking for and he bolted out the door—with her prescription medication in his jacket.
Theft is a fairly common issue for agents hosting open houses. To avoid this problem, make sure you lock up all valuables and keep them out of sight. Just as important, make sure dangerous items—like medication—are also locked up. If you’re concerned about safety, have another agent join you at the open house, and be sure they accompany all visitors as they tour the property.
2. The Home WreckerSome people take the foreclosure of their property harder than others. The owner of one house, in particular, decided to respond to the news by painting obscenities all over the walls and punching holes in the cabinets. He even poured concrete down the toilets to stop up the plumbing. There was so much damage to the house that the city condemned the property rather than put it up for sale at auction.
Notice of foreclosure is hard—whatever your circumstances. If you’re an agent or investor who wants the property, be prepared to spend a little extra money on repairs to damage caused by homeowners unhappy about the loss of their home.
3. Raining Rat PoisonUpon moving into her new house in Pennsylvania, Liz Spikol was greeted with a short note from the previous owner stating, “We have seen a mouse.” One mouse did not seem like a big deal for the new owner, so she continued her move-in. Within a week, however, she noticed blue powder falling from the ceiling and opened it up to inspect. The ceiling area was overrun with mice—dead and alive. The blue powder was rat poison.
To be sure you’re not setting yourself up for unwanted surprises, be sure to complete a thorough inspection of any property you intend to buy. Check all areas of the house—not just common living areas—and ensure your home inspector does the same.
4. Bathroom GatheringsA chair would be perfectly acceptable in a sitting or living room, but an armchair in a bathroom—complete with an area rug and pillows—is odd. One property, as showcased below, featured exactly this setup, which made it a bit awkward to shoot and show for prospective clients.
If you’re aiming to sell a property, appeal to the most common buyer in your market. This often requires re-staging a home to be sure that each room reflects its intended purpose. Whatever the owner’s preferences, a house should feel open and welcoming to all prospects, giving them the ability to envision themselves living there.
5. Unwelcome GuestsMike Litzner, an agent from Long Island, New York, reported finding a homeless man living in the house he was showing to potential buyers. The man created a fort around himself and stocked it with alcohol to help manage cold nights. One buyer humorously asked if the fort came with the house.
Believe it or not, common squatters are not an uncommon problem for real estate agents. To be sure you avoid this problem—and disrupt showings—keep doors and windows locked at all times and only provide keys or entry codes to approved persons.
Bottom Line – Real Estate Agent Horror StoriesWhile real estate horror stories can be humorous, they can also jeopardize sales or ruin the relationship between a buyer or seller and an agent. To avoid this, be sure to consider the scenarios above and make note of how to avoid them. Being prepared will go a long way to ensuring nothing disrupts a successful sale.
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