Agents see the strangest things at open houses

TRD New York /
Jan.January 07, 2010 06:56 PM
Douglas Heddings of the Heddings Property Group at Charles Rutenberg Realty; Tamir Shemesh at Prudential Douglas Elliman; Michael Signet at Bond New York Real Estate; Fabienne Lecole at the Corcoran Group; Leigh Zaph at Manhattan Homes; Shebrelle Hunter-Green at the Corcoran Group; and Rena Goldstein at Halstead Property

The Real Deal asked a number of residential real estate agents what the strangest thing is that they’ve seen at an open house. The responses ran the gamut from breast feeding to naked people to a dog taking a house tour. Here is a sampling of what the agents have encountered:

Douglas Heddings, associate broker and founder of the Heddings Property Group at Charles Rutenberg Realty: How about a five-year old breast feeding? Here are some less shocking examples: A drying rack full of panties in a living room, a toilet seat that was taped closed so that open house attendees could not use the facilities, of course the [Upper West Side] robbery [of an open house Heddings was hosting] that was highly publicized and a spray painted wall saying “monkey nipple” on a teenager’s bedroom wall, which the seller refused to remove.

Leigh Zaph, president of Manhattan Homes: More than a few times it has been the asking price, but once I was at a brokers’ open house and we were standing around the fireplace when I saw a photo of my father over the mantelpiece. He’s a shrink so I chose not to ask the owners why. The townhouse actually turned out to be owned by a close colleague of my Dad’s, which I didn’t know it at the time, but I certainly was real surprised to see Dad looking down at me as I was drinking wine with my colleagues.

Shebrelle Hunter-Green, senior associate broker at the Corcoran Group: A half-naked, sleeping couple.

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

Tamir Shemesh, managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman: I was hosting an open house where visitors were required to take off their shoes. One buyer came and refused to take off his shoes so I did not let him in the apartment. He basically said, “the seller is losing a deal here; I am not taking my shoes off,” and he left. Another time I was taking a buyer to open houses and we were asked to take off our shoes. In the apartment, we saw a buyer arguing with the exclusive broker that somebody stole her shoes so my client and I took our shoes with us when we toured the apartment.

Fabienne Lecole, senior vice president and associate broker at the Corcoran Group:
A strange thing that seems fairly common is the fact the first question from visitors of an open house is to ask to use the bathroom.

Michael Signet, executive director of sales at Bond New York Real Estate: When the listing broker invited my client and myself into an open house, showed us around the apartment and when we go to the master bedroom, the seller and his girlfriend were in bed — awake [and] reading the paper [with] no clothes on.

Compiled by Lauren Elkies

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