Realtors’ Strangest Experiences Showing Houses
Real estate is often portrayed as a glamorous profession. Reality television has given us peeks into the lives of real estate agents who sell million-dollar mansions and help clients find their dream homes, but is working in real estate actually anything like that in real life? Not surprising, those aren’t the experiences most realtors have on the job. It’s typically rather mundane — but then there are the exceptions.
Real estate agents, clients and colleagues have posted some hilarious stories on Reddit filled with all the juicy details about the most out-of-the-ordinary things they have experienced during showings. Let’s just say you never know what you will find when you walk into a stranger’s house.
Literal Bats in the Attic
I was a realtor in upstate NY back in grad school. The worst house I ever saw was pretty junky inside, with paths through the garbage which was at least a foot deep in each room.
Worse, we looked in the attic and found that there had been a hole for years, allowing bats, birds, etc. access. The channels between the attic beams were completely full of guano, so then we realized why the rest of the house was “dusty.” Every time they slammed a door, everything was sprinkled with a new layer of bat guano.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
We were doing the pre-purchase inspection and noticed a kid in the back yard near some woods kneeling and digging with a shovel. We walked over to say hi and see what was up. He turned and said, “Get out of my face,” so we decided it was best to leave him alone.
It turned out the home sale was due to divorce, and he was the son of the sellers. He had just come to get the last of his things out of the garage, and they somehow had run over his dog with his Jeep, so he decided to bury the dead dog in the backyard of the house we were buying. I felt bad for the kid.
A Strange Welcome
I scheduled a showing at a property occupied by renters. They were fully aware of the showing. I had talked to the husband directly. So, I showed up with my client and his 2-year-old, and the whole family was there, the husband and two kids nonchalantly watching TV in the living room. The wife was lying on the bed in the master bedroom, door open, watching TV — in her lace bra and panties.
As we walked by, she just looked over and said, “Come on in and take a look around.” We opted out of the house immediately. I later talked to the listing agent, and we were not the first to lodge a complaint.
How Many People Live Here?
I work for a brokerage, and we manage about 1,000 units in our city. The weirdest showing I ever had by far had to be when I was going to a nice part of town to show a 2,200-square-foot, two-story home to what I thought was a single mother. It turned out that she and her friend were moving in together, and they both brought their children — all six of them. They were all running around screaming, slamming doors, locking each other in closets and the like, and the moms were both just ignoring it.
Not surprised? There’s more. About 10 minutes into the moms exploring the house, one of them gets a phone call and has a shouting match with what I assume to be her baby daddy. This then turns into her locking herself in the upstairs master bedroom, noisy kids running wild for 15 minutes. All I could do was twiddle my thumbs and wait. Yeah, that was fun.
When Clients Are Criminals
So, my mom was at a showing at the end of the day, just showing this home to a single guy (couple bedrooms, bath, garage) nothing special. He asked to see the garage, and according to her, that is typically just opening the door and looking in, and that’s all.
The guy motions her to enter, so she walks in ahead of him. The guy moves in behind her, shuts the door and then jiggles the handle to make sure he locked it — he did. Mom left right out the side door the instant she saw him jiggle the handle and took off. She carries mace with her now.
Is Anybody Home?
I have been a realtor for 14 years here. A few months ago, I went into a house in a nice area, but there was obviously no maintenance done on the outside, which was unusual for the area. We went in, and there were piles of stuff everywhere — stacks and stacks everywhere you looked. The place was a mess.
My clients commented on how much of a mess it was and that they couldn’t believe someone was living here. We went downstairs, and there was this 80-year-old guy sitting in a corner on a desktop computer. I don’t even know if he knew we were there. It was weird because whenever I enter a house, I always ring the bell and yell hello.
My clients were so embarrassed they left without seeing the basement. The house is still unsold. I don’t know if that guy is still in the basement.
Barb’s Real Estate Adventures
My mom’s friend, Barb, had the worst, most bizarre luck with clients. These are two stories I remember hearing. One, she was showing a very old (1930s?) fixer-upper when water started leaking onto her and her clients’ heads. Upon further investigation, it wasn’t water. It was a stray dog peeing upstairs. That’s right. All three of them had just been peed on.
Second, she was showing a very nice home to a very young couple. They were in the foyer when a “New York-sized rat” dragged its poisoned body by its front paws to the center of the room, hissed at them once and promptly died.
Also, (not Barb related) my mother was once trying to sell a house that had renters in it who didn’t want to go. They got evicted but kept squatting. Finally, they left a small surface-to-air missile on the front porch to scare her. My mother brought me to make sure it was a dud. Needless to say, I now own a small, empty SAM.
Clients with Sticky Fingers
I’m not in the business anymore, but I did hundreds of showings. I’m kind of jealous of some of the weird stories here, because my weirdest doesn’t approach them. My milder story is that one of my vendors used to leave $50 on the kitchen bench to pay the cleaner — they were childless professionals with nobody home during the day.
While showing one day, a man claimed it was his and that he must have dropped it. I didn’t let him take it, but I did go through the polite pantomime of searching the whole house for the $50 he was sure he had dropped.
Other than that, the weirdest showing I did was for a house with three chain smokers. The walls and roof were yellow (bordering on brown in places) with smoke stains. It made me want to wretch.
Don’t Wake the Officer!
A good friend of mine was showing a house, and he was the listing agent, so he had keys and was under contract to show the house. He tried to call the owners but got no answer. He tried both cell numbers on the way over but still no answer. He showed up at the house just as the potential buyers were pulling up.
The house looked empty, so they went in knocking, announcing — literally yelling — that they were coming in. They toured the whole downstairs and moved to the upstairs and were looking through the bedrooms. They were talking, laughing, commenting about the house and such. They got to the end of the hall, opened the double doors to the bedroom and there was the owner.
He was a police officer in full uniform laid out on top of the bed in the master bedroom. He was asleep with one of those masks covering his eyes. The broker and the couple saw him about the same time and froze, standing there for a few very long awkward seconds of total stunned silence. Needless to say, they all turned around and left very quietly. And, no, they didn’t buy the house.
The “Dirty” Side of Real Estate
Foreclosure sales are often super depressing. They usually occur because people are down on their luck and in a tough spot in general. The owners often leave stuff behind. I saw one last year where they abandoned a bunch of kids’ toys and school projects.
Generally, you’d be surprised at how people live. You find filth and chaos in a neat little house, or that big, gorgeous mansion you drive by all the time is probably only half furnished, while condos and apartments almost always have way too much furniture in them.
We Don’t Want Nice Things!
I used to be in real estate investment, and I saw some interesting properties in the Milwaukee area. One property that we actually ended up buying was a nine-unit efficiency. Eight of the units shared 2.5 baths, and one unit was the “management apartment” on the first floor. Apparently, the owner didn’t tell his tenants, so when we walked in, he told us to act like we were insurance agents so the tenants wouldn’t get an idea what was going on.
Everyone in the property was very odd. We still ended up buying the property because we got it about 60% below asking price. We went to each tenant and told them we wanted to redo their carpets, repaint their walls a color of their choosing and install some AC units in the windows. They all declined. We chose not to renew any leases at the end of their terms, redid the place and turned it into student housing.
Renting from the Wrong Owner
When I was in leasing, I went to view a house in order to assess it before it went on our books for rent. I was looking around, and it was a very nice, modern three-bedroom, detached house.
Near the end of it, a woman came in off the street and went absolutely ballistic. It turned out it was half her house, and she was living in it. The guy I was with owned the other half but moved out a week before after having an affair. To spite his partner, he was going to change the locks and rent it out. I don’t know how he thought he’d get away with it.
When Nature Calls
We just bought a house, and on one set of showings, we had to take our 4-year-old daughter along. We got to the last house, a vacant, winterized house, and she said she needed to pee. I told her to hold it, and we went through the house with its old, outdated, smell of smoke (and I’m an outside smoker).
We were locking up and talking to our realtor when I realized I didn’t see our daughter. We walked around the bushes at the front porch, and there she was — peeing in the middle of the front yard. We didn’t buy that house.
Welcome to the Landfill
I’m just a buyer here, but I’ll share. We bought a FSBO property — no realtors. Both parties were pretty thorough, and the deal was pleasant. We got to the closing, and the seller had not done the math correctly and misunderstood how much we had asked for in closing costs. He wrote me the check, but he was mad.
I took possession of the house the next morning. He and his wife had dumped garbage from one end of the house to the other. I had a full-sized truck, and we ended up raking up the garbage and hauling it — three truckloads — to the dump.
Finding a Squatter
In South Central Los Angeles, I was attacked by a skeleton-looking crackhead with a knife once. She had broken in and started living in a room, so she was yelling at us to get out of her home.
Another time, I entered a home that had newspapers and mail piled about 4 feet deep throughout the entire home. The walls and decor were still very well taken care of, and it was a weird sight, especially since there were no foul odors or other signs of hoarding.
How Do We Get Out of Here?
When I was in eighth grade my parents were looking for a house, and so my sister and I spent many Sunday mornings being dragged from showing to showing. I will never forget one for this house in the middle of a nice suburb. From the outside, it looked like it had all these big windows around the front of the house, and you could see the curtains were closed.
We walked in, and there were no windows anywhere. They were all covered with drywall and painted to match the rest of the room. There was a line of electrical outlets around the base of the entire room and in a solid line up one wall to the ceiling. Upstairs was the same situation — but worse. All the windows were a facade, and the master bedroom had a toilet in one corner and a shower in the opposite corner. There was no separation of any kind, just the same carpet all around the shower and the toilet.
You could tell the realtor was super uncomfortable. She didn’t really say anything, just kind of led us around in silence. Needless to say, we did not buy that house.
The Creepy Bedroom
Imagine a room full of dolls, the ones with the glass eyes that look into your soul, and they are all arranged to “look” at the door when you walk in. Yeah, no sale!
A Funny Way of Decorating
Eagles — one man had bald eagle paraphernalia in every corner of the condo. There were entire shelving units packed to the brim with eagle statues, and every bit of fabric — draperies, blankets, rugs — was eagle themed. Perhaps the weirdest part was there wasn’t a single American flag to be seen anywhere.
There’s Not Always Running Water
This next story might seem crazy, but any real estate agent will tell you that it happens way more often than you might think. I was looking at a multifamily building with a realtor I use a lot, and we were meeting a contractor. He showed up looking kind of pale. He kept talking really fast and then just said he had to go to the bathroom.
Of course, the place had been winterized since it was vacant, which meant no water. He took the smelliest dump ever. I swear, he must have had a touch of the bird flu or something. We just left after that. I hope they didn’t have trouble selling it with frozen diarrhea in the toilet.
The Hidden Problem in the Basement
I’m a home inspector, so I have a bad experience at least once a month. The most notable one was when I caught an agent and owner covering up a major deficiency. There was an open waste pit in the basement, and they covered it with boxes. I’m very lucky I caught it.
As I was leaving, the tenant told me one of my “friends” was there last week. I asked if she remembered his name, and she said he was bald. Since I work in a relatively small area, I called the only bald home inspector in town, and he brought me up to speed and told me where to look. Sure enough, there was an open pit of sewage. It turned out the last buyers paid a plumber to come out and quote it, and it was $18K fix.
It gets worse. I got a call from another client a week later looking for an inspection on the same property. I told them I was there before, and we scheduled an appointment. That time the selling agent was also acting as the buying agent. When we showed up, I asked if a number of the big deficiencies were disclosed. Both clients looked at me oddly and told me nothing was disclosed. I looked at the agent, and she face palmed herself.
You Might Want to Get That Repaired
I went out to a house on the hill that had snapped in half. They had hazard tape all over the place but still had a Supra (lock box) on the property.
My seller liked to tinker with cars — a lot — but he didn’t have a garage, so he used his living room instead. He wasn’t happy when I told him he had to dismantle the vehicle and get it out of the living room before we put the house on the market.
The Extremely Phobic Client
Surprise! Many people have dogs, cats, parrots and even pet rodents. Somehow, these houses are inevitably paired with potential clients who are afraid of said animal. One actually fainted. Who is that afraid of birds?
The Cats Come Out to Play
So, a broker calls to set up an appointment for his buyer. The seller agreed and asked for an hour so he could get the cats out. Okay, fine. The broker and client show up an hour later.
The seller had overlooked at least one cat, and the place smelled horrible. The broker tried to get his client out of there immediately, because after all, they had seen better houses for less money that day. The buyer said, no, he had to know why the seller thought it was worth that much.
The “New” Roof
Once, an enterprising roofer had laid a new roof right over rotting wood shingles.
Who Puts Trash in the Trash Can?
My grandma sells and rents houses in the Denver area. A few weeks ago, I had to help her evict a few college brothers from one of her properties. It was a cottage-style home, so no second floor, no basement.
These guys had literally dug a hole in the wood floor and made a basement where they had been throwing trash away for the last year. Like, it’s a living room with a TV and a couple of armchairs — and a giant hole in the ground filled with ice cream wrappers, pizza boxes and cigarette butts.