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10 Hilariously Awkward Moments Realtors Have Had During House Showings

From naked sellers to stripper poles in the bedroom, the real estate market is more than just house hunting.

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No dogs allowed

When crazy yellow lab Marley barrels through the front door of an open house, out the back, and jumps into the pool in the movie Marley & Me, Owen Wilson, playing Marley’s owner, feigns innocence by asking “Whose dog is that?”

“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,” Rena Goldstein, senior vice president at Halstead Property told the Realdeal.com. “She walked him through the apartment while I stood there stunned and unable to speak.”

Pets are great, but some people forget their fur babies aren’t human. In fact, on The Steve Pomeranz Show, a weekly financial radio show on NPR WLRN, veteran real estate agent Terry Story noted that 89 percent of pet owners would walk away from a home purchase if the property had restrictions against pets—while 61 percent would not buy a home or have it altered if they believed that it was not a pet-friendly environment.

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Sellers wear their birthday suit

Buyer beware! Realtors might want to make sure the seller is dressed before taking a home tour. Knocking is standard protocol for realtors before they show a home. But a knock might not be enough notice for some sellers.

“One time when I was showing a house, the listing agent said to go directly there,” says Carlos Gomez, a sales associate at Coldwell Banker East Office in Westfield. “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.”

Michael Signet, executive director of sales at Bond New York Real Estate shares a similar tale of naked sellers at the Realdeal.com. “When the listing broker invited my client and myself into an open house and showed us around the apartment, when we got to the master bedroom the seller and his girlfriend were in bed—awake [and] reading the paper [with] no clothes on.” For more juicy details about the world of real estate, check out these 22 secrets your realtor isn’t telling you.

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Feathered friends and felines

Many sellers own pets—other than dogs—that can spell trouble when buyers show up. Sellers should always consider how their pet might react to new visitors. Or to the realtor showing the house.

“I sat at an open house once,” recalls Frank Isoldi, broker and associate with Coldwell Banker East in Westfield, NJ. “And when I walked in the family room the bird would whistle and catcall at me.” Instead of being freaked out, Isoldi was flattered. Hopefully so were his clients.
But for Lindsie Tomlinson of RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside, it was flatulence, not flattery, that got her clients’ attention. She wrote on Linkedin.com, “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!”

And don’t forget to keep tabs on the pets a seller has. “We once let a cat in a house during a broker’s open house… only to find out the cat didn’t live there,” says Isoldi. Real estate agents warn against these mistakes you’re making with your home.

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Watch what you eat

A house that smells like cookies could be a selling point, except when the buyers eat all the cookies. When Marilyn Berney was selling her home she left the house for a bit so a realtor could do a showing. When she returned, all that was left of the cookies she’d had cooling for her family were crumbs.

On a similar note, Isoldi recalls, “During our office preview of a listing, we were excited that the owner left out an entire spread of food for us. [As I was] walking out of the house with a bunch of grapes, the seller pulled up and asked what we were doing… She was hosting a bridge group and we had eaten all their food. My manager sent food to the house as soon as we got back to the office.” Thinking about selling? Read 13 smart ways to sell your home as fast as possible⁠—and baking cookies for open house guests could definitely be number 14.

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Potty time

“Agents have told us again and again that buyers will use the bathroom during a showing,” says Realtor.com. “If you’ve already moved out, it might be for the best to leave the water on for a while, since buyers might want to test the plumbing or shower pressure, after all. Or at least put up some cautionary signs on your toilets.” That came to fruition for one realtor who had this bathroom tale of woe to tell on Realtor.com.

“I was hosting a busy open house, and the home was vacant, which meant the utilities had been turned off, including the water,” reports Morgan Franklin, realtor with United Real Estate, Lexington. “About half-way through the open house, I hear a mother shriek from the hall bathroom. She had allowed her son to use the restroom, and this 5-year-old laid a load that a buffalo would have been proud of—in a nonworking 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.”

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Make fun of the neighbors

Most realtors wouldn’t recommend mocking the seller’s neighbors when trying to promote a listing. But Mary Shelsby, a real estate professional with RE/MAX Realty Group in Pittsford, N.Y., went ahead with her For Sale sign: “Quiet neighbors across the street!” The house was across from a graveyard.

“Turns out the use of humor can get you far in business,” says Realtor Magazine. “Customers are more likely to want to work with a real estate professional with a good sense of humor, according to a 2008 study by Baylor University’s Keller Center.” While humor is obviously important, you should also know these 26 real estate terms before you buy a house.

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Laundry snags

Christine Harvell, associate broker, RE/MAX of the Poconos said she makes it a point to call potential sellers with helpful hints and news about recent sales in their neighborhood. She told Realtor Magazine that after becoming friendly with a potential client, she advised him to omit a photo of his laundry hanging out on a line alongside his house. Harvell thought she was being helpful until he politely informed her that the photo was not of laundry hanging out on the line, but of his Tibetan prayer flags.

Douglas Heddings, associate broker and founder of the Heddings Property Group at Charles Rutenberg Realty told the Realdeal.com that he had some ‘laundrysplaining’ to do as well. He took some clients to a listing and when they walked into the living room there was a drying rack full of panties on full display. Next, check out the 11 mistakes to avoid when buying your first home.

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Unwanted buyer

Realtor Kelly Christenson of CRS GRI, RE/MAX Trinity in Fort Worth, Texas isn’t normally jumpy, but when a grasshopper crawled up her pants, she told Realtor Magazine that she started screaming and jumping around like a crazy person. Unfortunately, she was in the middle of showing a house. All she could think was, “I have to get these pants off! Am I really going to take my pants off with clients here?”

She made a mad dash for the master bedroom closet, ripped off her pants off and out jumped Mr. Grasshopper. Her clients had a good chuckle and even released the poor grasshopper back outside so he could go his own house hunt.

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A real love nest

Looking for love? You may not want turn to this Toyko-based real estate company for ideas: Realtors there designed a konkatsu or “marriage hunting” apartment, according to Business Insider. But rather than focus on a fireplace or romantic lighting, these apartments offer stripper poles as the focal point of the living room.

And if you want to take a bath, you can stay right there in the living room. The designer Rintaro Kikuchi feels “typical tiny, cramped, and poorly designed Japanese apartments” are contributing to a decrease in marriage and birth rates. The apartments were designed around his belief that couples need space to cook and bathe together. Worried about the neighbors hearing what’s going on behind closed doors? The apartments are soundproof. And while a stripper pole might be an obscure thing to find in a house, check out the 12 craziest things found during home inspections for some more laughs.

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Oops! Wrong house.

A realtor suggests his clients check out an open house that he thinks would be a good fit for them, according to Realtor Magazine. The couple loves the house and are impressed with even the catering and elegantly dressed buyers. As they are piling caviar onto their plates and sipping champagne, a woman approaches who must be the listing agent.”This is a lovely home. Please tell the seller we are very impressed,” they gush. Her response, “Um, who are you?”

“We’re here for the open house,” they explain. “This is indeed an open house … for my friends and family. I am the new owner.” Awkward, but at least they got a nice meal out of it.