Selling homes is a very complicated, up-close-and-personal business. Considering the hours we invest meeting with new people and the extensive amount of time we spend going in and out of houses, it should come as no surprise that many real estate agents have run into a few awkward, humorous and even X-rated situations.
I had one agent tell me about a seller getting arrested for murder while having properties in escrow — and having to do the rest of the transaction from behind bars. The seller got out three years later after being proven innocent.
If you think that’s crazy, just wait.
Curious to know what shenanigans my fellow agents had come across on their journey so far, I posted this question on Facebook: “What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you as a real estate agent?”
I share with you now some of my favorite answers.
The seller went MIA
Christopher Charman of Santa Cruz, California-based Vanguard Realtors put an offer in on a home. The listing agent thought the offer was great but could not reach the seller. Turned out the seller had died in the three days between going on the market and the offer being written.
Charman is still waiting to hear what the heirs plan to do with the property.
I sold the wrong house
Glennda Baker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties got herself out of this jam like a champ. Her buyer said he wanted to purchase the Buckhead Broker house on West Paces Ferry, so she wrote the contract.
He did not do any inspections or an appraisal as it was a cash sale, and he never did a walkthrough as he was going to tear down the house.
After it closed, Baker went by the house with her buyer to talk about the demo timeline, and he said, “This isn’t the house I bought.” Baker was physically ill, but being the super agent she is, she hopped out of the car like a jackrabbit and did the best sales job of her career.
He ended up thanking her for getting him a great deal on the better house, and they all lived happily ever after.
Held at gunpoint
There were stories from agents who walked in on a burglary, had a client who burned down a rental to get out of a lease, walked in on people in bed (no, they weren’t sleeping) and other crazy things.
As devastating and annoying as those situations must have been, they probably weren’t as traumatizing as what happened to Ryan Melcher of Sotheby’s International Realty in Carmel, California.
Melcher was showing horse property in Carmel Valley and had a gun pulled on him at a showing. Luckily, Melcher was not hurt, and the perp went to jail for armed robbery later that year.
Sorry, but your loan did not fund
Stephen Topper of Las Vegas-based Topper Properties had a buyer show up on a Friday night to pick up keys. The buyer had a Sears truck loaded with new items for the house — washer, dryer, beds, everything.
Unfortunately, that buyer had charged $ 25,000 for the purchases, so the lender pulled the loan from funding. The buyer had to return everything, live in a hotel for a week, and pay the seller $ 300 a day for waiting to close.
The lender rescored the buyer’s credit, and the close eventually happened.
Put your toys away next time
Mel Horbal of Watson Realty Corp. in Mount Dora, Florida, received a showing request for one of her listings, but the sellers were out on their boat and said the home wasn’t available for viewing unless someone cleaned it up.
Horbal volunteered to clean it prior to the viewing, and when she arrived, she found sex toys all over the master bedroom.
The couple eventually divorced — they were both having affairs — but Horbal was able to sell both individuals new homes, and she listed and sold the homes of the participating parties as well. Four homes in total.
Horbal says her fiancé always tells her, “Just think, if you hadn’t went over there and cleaned up all that mess, they would have never trusted you to be in the middle of all their madness.” He’s right, she says — it’s because she kept her lips sealed that they all trusted her to coordinate the sales.
I give you money, you give me houses
Andy Norton of RE/MAX said a man from “an overseas country stereotypically associated with wealth” walked into his office, opened a briefcase full of money and said, “I want to buy some properties.”
Norton was a newbie agent at the time, so of course the situation not only piqued his interest but surprised him a little. He went on to work with the family for many years.
These boots weren’t made for knockin’
Robyn Burdett of RE/MAX went to show a vacant home only to find two agents — who were married, but not to each other — having sex on the floor of the master bedroom.
They had neatly put the key back in the lockbox and locked the front door. Neither of them are in the business anymore.
Or married to anyone.
What’s that vibration I feel?
San Diego-based Alexandra Ferrer with Sotheby’s International Realty was required to be present for every showing of a $ 2 million listing. In preparation for each showing, she would arrive 30 minutes early to tidy up, pour fresh water into flower vases, etc.
One day, the master bed was a bit of a mess and pushed closer to one wall. She got on the bed to flatten the comforter where it met the wall, and all of a sudden a loud buzzing sound filled the room. She scanned the bed and quickly saw a “familiar and huge shape” under the comforter.
It was a sizable vibrator, and she had accidentally turned it on with her knee. She managed to turn it off the same way she turned it on.
Worried that the buyers (who were about to arrive) would see the lump, she rearranged the pillows to hide it from view — “I was not going to move it from its current location,” she said.
Editor’s note: These last two are more serious in nature.
An untimely tragedy
Kat Sellis of Walnut Creek, California-based J. Rockcliff Realtors received a Facebook message from a young newlywed man whom she had recently sold a house to. He asked her to come over because his wife died and he needed some help. She got there in 10 minutes.
When the young man opened the door for her, she saw his wife hanging from the ceiling. The wife had killed herself and the police had not arrived yet.
Sellis said lesson learned — when a client calls you at 8:30 p.m., wait at least an hour before going over. And I agreed: “Don’t jump like a pop tart … you never know what you will find.”
Divorce and death
I’ve got my own crazy story too: I had a divorcing couple who could not agree on anything (except listing their house with me). The husband was living in the house, and the wife had moved out.
We received a great offer that the wife wanted to accept, but the husband would not sign it. (The couple was going back and forth with their attorneys.) A few weeks later, the wife called me to say her husband had died and she wanted to sign the offer.
Apparently, he had just been found by the housekeeper. I wanted to be respectful and wait until after the funeral, but the wife said no.
If you’re wondering whether this is all true — yes! I cannot make this stuff up. You can check out the entire Facebook post here.