Have you ever found yourself in a bizarre or frightening situation on a showing or listing appointment? If so, you can certainly relate to these chilling stories from real estate pros and a survey of 114 photographers who work for HomeJab.
While agents and photographers frequently encounter mice, rats and spiders at listings, these five situations are pretty disconcerting.
- A HomeJab photographer from Los Angeles discovered there were bats living in the deck umbrella of the home he was photographing.
- “I once showed a house that was filled with cages of snakes. To top it off, there were multiple snakeskins hanging on the clothesline.”
- “Speaking of snakes, I remember showing a home at the top of Mulholland Drive. When we arrived, another family was just leaving the property. As their 10-year-old son walked out, he excitedly shouted to his dad: ‘Hey dad—look at that! Cool — it’s a rattlesnake!'”
That snake was curled up near the front door where it could have easily struck any of us. Given that my buyers and I both had snake phobias the size of Texas, that was the end of that showing.
An even scarier experience happened to a photographer in Austin, TX:
- “A repo company sent me to a house with an active hornet’s nest, inside the kitchen!”
A photographer from Nashville, TN had an experience that will make your skin crawl:
- “The house was owned by a hoarder. The house was filled with roaches and pizza boxes. While she talked to me, she had roaches crawling across her skin. I thought I was in a horror movie.”
Here kitty, kitty, kitty
Housecats pose their own set of problems, but these two scenarios take it to the next level.
- A Realtor was walking the property of a three-million-dollar home in North Scottsdale. The owners invited her out to their covered patio to see to two cute little bobcat cubs up in the beams of their outdoor kitchen. There was nothing cute about the mother bobcat ready to attack them to protect her cubs.
- A Colorado Springs Realtor was showing a property that had a driveway leading down to the three homes. As she turned into the driveway to show the property, a mountain lion jumped over the hood of her car, missing her windshield by mere inches. She did a quick U-turn and fled as quickly as humanly possible.
The murder house
Have you listed or shown a house where there was a murder? Here are four harrowing stories about “murder houses.”
A photographer from Asheville, NC described what happened on one of his photo shoots:
- “My most recent house shoot looked like someone had died in it. It smelled awful and cat poop was all over the kitchen floor. It looked like dried blood was dripping down one wall. I covered my body with hand sanitizer when I got to my car and immediately showered when I got home.”
From Houston, TX:
- I was asked to photograph a “murder house” (where someone was killed). The agent refused to go inside and left me to shoot alone with a parting note to skip the bathroom where the murder happened.
From El Segundo, CA
- “In a house that appeared to be an estate sale, I found an extremely large amount of blood leading from the carpeted master bathroom to the master bedroom. The carpet had been cleaned, but someone had obviously died there. Also, I didn’t notice this at first because master bedroom was extremely dark, and the light didn’t work. Creepy.”
One of the eeriest experiences I ever had took place my first year in the business. My buyer was interested in purchasing a home in the Los Feliz area. One of the properties I showed her was 3301 Waverly Drive, a tenant-occupied property that was on a beautiful piece of land, although the interior of the house was a huge mess.
As we walked through the property, I had the worst vibes that I have ever experienced on any showing ever. My client felt it too, especially when we walked into the pool house. The sleeping bags, the trash — the whole scene was weird and deeply disturbing. We headed back to the car as quickly as our high heels would carry us.
A few days later when I was scheduling a showing for a different property, I told the listing agent about the strange vibes my client and I both got from the Waverly house. He then asked,
“Don’t you know about that house? That’s where the Charles Manson family murdered the LaBiancas.”
A photographer from Greenwood Village, Colorado was sent to photograph a commercial building. Here’s what happened:
- Supposedly the tenant expected me, but of course, no one told them. I knocked on the door, but no one answered. I began walking around the outside taking photos. At that point, a man comes running out with a 9mm hollering, ‘Federal Agent, stop what you are doing!’ It turned out that Homeland Security was the tenant, and they were using the building to process prisoners.
A photographer From Cleveland, Ohio, was mistaken as a squatter:
- “A bunch of cops stormed in with guns drawn during a (photo) shoot because the neighbors thought I was a squatter that had been living there.”
A Tampa, Florida photographer had this to say:
- “I got teargassed once. It was a different type of photoshoot. But yeah.”
One of the scariest showing stories ever comes from Melanie Hurwitz, a Realtor in Carlsbad, California. Hurwitz listed a million-dollar property that was owned by an 80-year-old woman who was still active and sharp. Unfortunately, her son was in a serious car accident, was permanently disabled, and lost everything. The mother was living elsewhere and let the son occupy the property provided he paid the utilities.
The son’s behavior became increasingly erratic. He started hoarding and deliberately damaging the house going as far as pulling off the shingles. He was also preventing Hurwitz from showing the property. When the son decided to go away for a few days, the owner advised Hurwitz to go in through a window and she would pay for the window repair.
When Hurwitz went inside the house, she saw a metal box with wires coming out of it. It looked like a bomb. The sign on the box said:
Shrapnel will fly!
Hurwitz immediately called 911. With multiple police cars, an ambulance, and a helicopter circling overhead, the bomb squad determined the metal box was an active bomb.
How would you have handled this?
Just before a property was scheduled to close, the sellers asked the new buyers if they could drop by to visit “Aunt Sally” who was buried in the backyard. The attorney for our company had a field day with all the legal questions this scenario posed.
- Was it legal to bury Aunt Sally in the backyard? (It was a rural area).
- Did Aunt Sally convey with the property?
- Did Aunt Sally need to be relocated?
- Did the sellers obtain the appropriate permits?
- Were there any signs of Aunt Sally haunting the property?
- Because there were no items on the Transfer Disclosure Statement addressing this issue, were the sellers obligated to make the disclosure?
It’s not surprising that the buyers canceled the transaction.
Happy Halloween and be careful out there!
Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with more than 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.