20 Hilariously Awkward Moments Realtors Have Had During House Showings
Think your job is crazy? From naked sellers to out-of-control pets, the real estate market is a lot weirder and wilder than you probably ever imagined.
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Show and tell
It’s part of a realtor’s job to prep houses for potential buyers to view and take clients to home showings. Typically, it’s all pretty routine. But sometimes, well, these visits don’t go quite as planned. While a listing agent may be tasked with putting a home’s best foot forward in an effort to score top dollar for the seller, there may be a hiccup or two that they never could have anticipated when home shoppers walk through the door. In other instances, the sellers are a little too attached to what is about to become their former home and insist on being present at the showing, which can lead to all sorts of awkward moments and funny stories.
We asked realtors from across the country to share their most memorable (and not in a good way) home showings that you really need to read to believe. Want to laugh even more? Check out these customer service jokes that will also make you LOL.
Room with a view
This awkward moment from Luke Smith, founder of We Buy Property in Kentucky, is enough to make any seller check that the coast is clear before taking a potential buyer for a tour of the house. “One particular afternoon, we received a call from a homeowner who insisted we come over to view a house he wanted to sell,” says Smith. “We walked around the exterior and then made our way indoors. He went room by room opening bedroom doors, but when he swung the master bedroom door wide open, his wife had just gotten out of the shower and was changing! She screamed. He laughed, and I turned away as if there was nothing to see. We continued to tour the property, and she emerged a few moments later, fully clothed. We actually ended up buying the house despite the awkward tour.” Here are a few secrets your real estate agent isn’t telling you.
Going to check out a home? Maybe avoid using their restroom. “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,” says Bill Samuel, a residential real estate investor and real estate broker in Illinois. “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.” For more laughs, check out the 12 craziest things found during home inspections.
It didn’t take long for Jacquetta T. Ragland, a licensed real estate agent in North Carolina and the owner of Young and Finance, to realize that in her profession, you’re going to meet people of all different personalities. However, her most memorable home showing didn’t involve a client who was a boisterous oversharer, but rather one who didn’t want to share anything at all. “I showed a house to a gentleman who didn’t want to tell me any of his personal information,” says Ragland. “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.” Read up on the 11 mistakes to avoid when buying your first home.
When Ali Wenzke, author of The Art of Happy Moving, and her husband decided to sell their Chicago townhome, they thought they had everything covered. Wenzke even ordered balloons ahead of their For Sale By Owner (FSBO) open house to attract the attention of potential buyers. “I asked my husband to pick them up 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.” Before you buy a house, you should know these 26 real estate terms.
Sometimes you just never know what you’re walking into at a house showing…literally. “We sold a house last year and had not one but two people actually fall straight into the pool during showings,” says Holly Meyer Lucas, a real estate agent in Jupiter, Florida. “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!” Did you know that texting while walking causes 11,000 injuries a year?
Beware of stairs
Not every day has us feeling our most graceful. Unfortunately, one realtor learned this the hard way. “I was working with an affluent couple looking for a considerably large and expensive home,” says Denise Supplee, co-founder of SparkRental.com. “One day I was showing them a house. While presenting myself and the home in what I thought was a most poised manner, I fell down the steps from the second floor to the first floor. I landed with my skirt up and completely disheveled. I heard them come after me in shock. I was mortified. Oddly, they never did purchase a home with me.” Check out these creepy staircases in the middle of nowhere.
Colin McDonald, a real estate broker in Albany, New York, recalls a particularly awkward moment that happened when he was meeting new clients for the very first time. “We started to enter the first floor unit of an investment property when we quickly realized that the tenants were still in the unit,” he says. “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.” Are you doing one of these 13 things to your home that realtors would advise against?
Rooftop of horror
When Marissa Gillman Shafer and her business partner, who happens to be her mom, set out to host an open house at a cool penthouse condo in Chicago, they had no idea they’d need a medic. “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.'” This led to some much-needed laughter, and the property sold the next day to that very same doctor! Here are some more ways to handle life’s most embarrassing moments.
One realtor was in for a big surprise when the homeowner completely forgot about the scheduled showings. “I was showing a couple a home, and we went in to preview the master suite,” says Natasha Carroll of Natasha Carroll Realty, which serves the Houston area. “We did not realize there was a person sleeping in the bed until we were in the bathroom. He startled us and quickly apologized. He 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.” Need to keep calm? These phrases almost immediately alleviate anxiety.
Bird is the word
You never know what will happen at an open house. But if you’re the one hosting, you have to make the best out of whatever gets thrown (or flown) your way. “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,” recounts Cyrus Karl, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Boston and blogger at Pyvt.com. “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.”
The moral of the story you’re about to read? Never judge a book by its cover. “I was showing a house that was empty,” says realtor Deb Tomaro, whose agency serves south-central Indiana. “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?”
People take their pets very seriously, as they should because they’re part of the family. But one realtor was taken aback at a showing when a lookie-loo said she wasn’t interested in seeing the home—her dog was. “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 RealDeal.com. “She walked him through the apartment while I stood there stunned and unable to speak.” We have to admit, we’ve never heard of a dog wanting to view a listing, but these are the things your dog actually does want from you.
Nudity seems to be one of the biggest problems at home showings. Who knew? “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, New Jersey. “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.”
Wildly inappropriate animals
“I sat at an open house once,” recalls broker Frank Isoldi, an associate with Coldwell Banker East in Westfield, New Jersey, “and when I walked in the family room, the bird would whistle and catcall at me.” Instead of being freaked out, Isoldi was flattered.
But for Lindsie Tomlinson of RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside, it was flatulence, not flattery, that got her clients’ attention. She wrote on LinkedIn, “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!”
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 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.”
“I was hosting a busy open house, and the home was vacant, which meant the utilities had been turned off, including the water,” shares Morgan Franklin, a realtor with United Real Estate, Lexington. “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 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.” While we’re on the subject, these are the toilet paper alternatives you can and can’t flush.
Incredibly quiet 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, New York, 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.” For more dark humor, check out these 19 hilarious tombstones that really exist.
Flag faux pas
Christine Harvell, an associate broker with RE/MAX of the Poconos, 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, founder of the Heddings Property Group at Charles Rutenberg Realty, told RealDeal.com that he had some “laundry-splaining” 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 display.
Kelly Christenson, a realtor with 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, and out jumped Mr. Grasshopper. Her clients had a good chuckle and even released the poor grasshopper back outside so he could go on his own house hunt.
The ultimate oops
A realtor suggested that his clients check out an open house that he thought would be a good fit for them, according to Realtor Magazine. The couple loved the house and were particularly impressed with the catering and the elegantly dressed buyers. As they were piling caviar onto their plates and sipping champagne, a woman approached them; they assumed she was the listing agent. “This is a lovely home,” they gushed. “Please tell the seller we are very impressed.” Her response: “Um, who are you?” After they explained that they were there for the open house, she replied, “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!
- Luke Smith, founder of We Buy Property
- Bill Samuel, a residential real estate investor and real estate broker in Illinois
- Jacquetta T. Ragland, a licensed real estate agent in North Carolina and owner of Young and Finance
- Ali Wenzke, author of The Art of Happy Moving
- Denise Supplee, cofounder of SparkRental.com
- Colin McDonald, a real estate broker in Albany, New York
- Natasha Carroll of Natasha Carroll Realty
- Cyrus Karl, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, developer in Boston, and blogger at Pyvt.com
- Deb Tomaro, an Indiana-based realtor