'Picture-perfect' listings that'll leave you speechless

Broker details odd tales from the field

What are the most memorable homes you’ve ever seen or sold? Some of my sales stay with me like post-traumatic stress disorder. Surprise attacks, out of the blue. One day you think everyone lives like you; the next minute — wham! You never know what you’ll find when you’re invited to someone’s home.

Mr. Hunter: “I’d like you to come over and talk to me about selling our museum house. We live at 4321 Aardvark St.”

Me: “Great. Know the neighborhood well. Tell me about your home.”

Mr. Hunter: “It’s 2,600 square feet, and we’ve completely remodeled: kitchen, baths, windows, everything. And it’s already staged for you.”

Don’t you love it when you know exactly what you’ll see before you get there?

You have your presentation memorized. You could do this in your sleep.

I drove up to the picture-perfect house. Mrs. Hunter opened the door to their petrified zoo and waved me in.

Oh. My. God. Smokey the Bear stared me in the eye. To his right, Bambi. I was ushered into the family room and seated next to Old Yeller. I was speechless.

Mrs. Hunter offered me coffee. “Do you have anything stronger?” I wanted to ask. I declined.

Mr. Hunter joined us and explained that they needed to acquire a larger home for their collection, and then informed me that (you can’t improve on perfection) the home was ready to show: “The animals stay, but we’ll remove the guns.”

I could hardly gasp. If I opened my mouth, I’d sob. I might have taken the listing if he had said they didn’t need all that room anymore because he saw the error of his ways and planned to donate the stuffed animals to a wildlife museum. I considered listing it and posting it on PETA’s website so they could educate him.

Instead, I just nodded and tried to smile a lot, and got out of there as fast as I could.

It’s much easier for me to deal with people issues than animal issues.

Another home I can’t forget belonged to a couple who called me out in anticipation of refinancing, to determine the value of their home. “I haven’t done a thing around the house in two weeks because my husband has been home with the flu,” the Mrs. said. Waist-high tunnels of stuff led to each room. The kitchen counters were stacked halfway to the ceiling with dirty dishes, pots and pans. The focal point of the property was the swimming pool — an in-ground plastic-liner pool with a tree growing up from the center. A 10-foot-tall tree. It had been longer than two weeks since anything had been done around the house.

They couldn’t pull as much cash out of it as they wanted, so they listed it for sale with me. I thought, “Who would buy this?” But soon after planting the sign in the yard, a couple materialized for whom the home was perfect, they said. It took 45 days to close escrow, and it was a real push for the owners to empty the structure.

A year later I stopped by, and nothing had changed but the owners and their clutter. New tunnels were carved through new piles of things that had dropped and been left where they fell. The pool tree was a foot higher. (It must be a popular decorating style because, although I don’t see it often, when I do, the home sells quickly.)

Just remember, there’s a buyer for every house.

Cathy Turney is a top-producing real estate broker, award-winning humorist and author of the brand-new book, “Laugh Your Way To Real Estate Sales Success.”