Being a real estate agent might look easy to those unfamiliar with the day to day job – you get to meet with clients, take them to see pretty homes, write an offer or two, collect a big check and call it a day. Little do they know the intricacies and challenges involved in the day-to-day life of a hard working real estate pro.
Since we asked you to share your funny, crazy and ridiculous real estate adventures with us, a few common themes popped up that appear to be par for the course if being a real estate agent is your job. Read on for some lessons learned and discover what bizarre and unexpected elements you might encounter in 2012 and the years to come.
1. You will get dirty.
Dog poop, pet hair, bugs, mold, mud, grime and gook and more -– if you call yourself an agent, chances are you’ll confront at least one of these icky items in a big way at some point when you’re touring or showing a home. And more than a few agents have told us how they’ve had to trade in their fancy footwear for something more practical to protect them from the elements. Your situation might not turn out to be as stressful as Mary’s below, but if you want to play it safe, stash extra clothes and a pair of sensible shoes in your car, just in case.
I was a newer agent and needed to make sales, so I put up with a lot. I had a VERY belligerent buyer who found fault with everything I did or said. Then the day of closing, it’s 90 degrees and humid. We go to the walkthrough about 2 hours prior to closing and the SELLERS only have 1 of 2 moving vans half loaded. There’s stuff everywhere in the house, and I can’t get the listing agent on the phone. My buyer is [angry]. I tell him go to closing, by the time I get there this house will be empty and clean.
So in my red silk blouse, I pull my hair in a pony tail and start throwing boxes on the lawn, emptying a dishwasher (with DIRTY dishes), washer (with wet clothes) into boxes, scrubbing sinks etc, and ordering the sellers around like crazy. By the time I left, the house was swept, vacuumed, and the sellers were still in shock that all their possessions were out on the front lawn.
I finally get to closing and my silk blouse is saturated with sweat. My clients decided that THIS was the day they would also babysit their 2 1/2 year old niece who is sitting on the brand new cordovan leather chair in my good friend’s brand new law office. The niece urinates all over the chair and my buyers didn’t even offer to help clean up the mess or pay to repair the chair. The sellers attorney asks me “what happened to you?” and I swear my head spun around like the exorcist as I growled “I just spent 2 hours cleaning YOUR clients house so we could have a closing!”
2. ‘Pet’ is a relative term.
Most agents are prepared to handle showings with pets, but Deborah and Patty’s stories demonstrate that not all companions are cuddly and you should approach all showings with caution. While you may know who, you can never be sure “what” is living in a listing.
I was on the last half hour on an open house in Quincy, MA. I was sitting in the front living room, when I could hear a strange noise coming from the kitchen. Getting up, I looked in to see a large rat nudging the cookie jar open. I am not kidding. I yelled at the thing, hey you. It ran into the kitchen cabinet it came out of. The tail was hanging out when some people showed up. I was half laughing myself silly and terrified at the same time. They did not see the rat tail hanging out. After they left, I did too.
I called to tell the seller of the horrible thing that had happened. Her response was,”he‘s my friend”. She started crying. This thing was as big as a chicken. I told her to call the exterminator-now! Then she flipped out saying that “he was getting his peanut butter cookies out of the cat cookie jar. He does that every night, then comes into the living room to say thank you”. I am still freaking out over that one.
I had a showing on a home basically empty except for a few pieces of furniture in a two story. As I got to the middle bedroom upstairs I opened the door and found a darkly painted room. I immediately went for the curtains to get more light. Just as the light hit, I saw it! This huge reptile type lizard next to the wall right next to my foot! Alarmed, I jumped but collected myself and thought, no, it’s a statue. But just as I thought of this the thing took a step towards me and hissed!! I’m not sure how I got downstairs but I did it so fast I don’t think my feet hit a step! My clients were ahead of me! Funny now but I almost had a heart attack!
3. Trust your gut.
Dangerous situations are bound to arise when you’re constantly meeting unfamiliar people in unfamiliar places. From squatters in vacant homes to paranoid sellers toting firearms and clients who are just plain crazy, it’s in your best interest to always be on guard, trust your instincts, and above all else don’t fight the impulse to make haste and take flight. Jeri Jo’s scary story shows us just why you should trust your gut.
I will never forget the time I went to gather information on a property for a CMA. When I arrived at the house, the man that answered was neat with every hair in place, khakis pressed as well as his polo golf shirt. The house was the same, impeccable. As I walked through the house taking notes and making small conversation, I quickly realized this guy was not for small talk. I was shocked when I walked into his bedroom with about 25-30 guns leaning against the wall out of their cases and one on a tripod with a scope that pointed out the window directly across the river to the bridge. I was speechless, then it gets better…
I walk downstairs to the lower level and there is a human target chest up with 4 or 5 bullet holes right in the forehead. I asked, “Are you a police officer?” A quick “No” was blurted out. Then I said “I think I have all l need. Thanks,” and with my hair standing up on the back of my neck, I jumped in the car and took off. As I looked back, he was standing in the window with the curtains pulled back just slightly watching me drive away. Creepy!
4. Keep your cool.
Trusting your instincts and panicking are two very different responses, and the latter rarely pays off. Steve’s story shows us that keeping your cool and staying sensible can cure an alarming situation.
I was showing an REO at dusk. We brought flashlights as the first floor windows were boarded up. As it got darker we had to use the flashlights on the upper floors. I guess the neighbors saw the lights and called the police. The police came and surrounded the building. We didn’t realize what was happening until we heard a someone with a bullhorn say “Come out with your hands up, or we are going to release the police dog.” Luckily for me, my business card and the fact that I knew the lock box combo kept me from being arrested.
5. Expect the unexpected.
You can’t be prepared for everything that will come your way, so flexibility in this business isn’t optional. Lisa and Brad show us that sometimes there’s just no way to prepare for what your day will hand you.
I had a showing on a home that had been sprayed for Roaches a few days before. When I unlocked the front door opened it, stepped in to take the key out of the door, close to 100 roaches fell on my head. They had moved to the door frame to escape the bug spray, and there was a large gap at the top of the door for them to hide…I did not sell that house!
My day of previewing properties was as normal as ever until I went inside a cute vacant home listed by a fellow agent in my office. While going through the master bedroom, I opened the closet and there on the floor, rolled up in an old carpet was the body of a woman! At first I was startled, then after getting my bearings back I gently nudged the body with my foot and SURPRISE!! Her eyes opened up and she stared right at me! I said “What are you doing in here?” and she said “I was sleeping!” I asked her who she was and she replied that she was the owner. I called the agent and she said it was true and that the woman was known to be “a bit unstable”. DO YOU THINK!!!!! Needless to say, I left and didn’t show that house again.
6. Keep your sense of humor handy.
The only way to handle the stress and strangeness of being a real estate agent is to keep your sense of humor handy. Take a cue from Lisa’s light-hearted approach to a silly situation and try to find the fun or funny in your day as often as you can. Sharing an absurd story is sometimes the best way to see it in a new light and take it a little less seriously.
I had some relocating buyers that were looking over a Memorial holiday weekend and requested a showing on Memorial Day. I couldn’t believe the showing wasn’t declined for this wonderful lake front property so we showed up as scheduled. Much to our entertainment, we found a party at the home and a pool full of scantily clad, and some naked, party goers. The owner of the home simply approached us and asked, “What would you like to drink?” Gotta say, we stayed for a beer!
As these stories show, the real estate business can often be more gore than glam, but it’s rarely dull. We thank all of the real estate professionals who have shared their awesome stories with our readers this last year.
Do you have a story that compares or a real estate lesson you’d like to share? Post it in a comment below and you may be featured in a future post right here on the Trulia Pro Blog!