The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, May 18, 2014
With open house season upon us, we asked local Realtors to share their funkiest, funniest, foulest experiences on the job.
Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell
"Many years ago, I was listing a rural property in southwest Champaign County. This was a turn-of-the-century home in good condition for its age, and the grounds were well-maintained.
"But after viewing the home, I told the seller I found the one full bath — but not the half-bath he mentioned, in the house or the cellar. He pointed out to the back yard and said, 'Well, there it is.' It was an outhouse. Although it was a nice one by today's farming standards, I said we couldn't count it.
"He said, 'Why not? We still use it.'"
Sperry Van Ness Ramshaw
"I had a home listed a few years ago straight out of 'The Brady Bunch.' It had the big-family, down-home, wholesome feeling as you walked in the door. However, the owner was an artist and liked to use the cathedral ceiling walls as his personal canvases for painting. In the family room, he had painted a very large nude woman. So much for family values."
1st Choice Realty
"I once walked into a potential seller's house to find beady eyes staring at me from every corner of every room. Big black bears, wild bores, turkeys, pheasants, skunks, rams, raccoons, fish, even a baby deer — all curled up in an adorable ball as if asleep. I expected Lurch to lurch out of a closet at any moment.
"I suggested the seller put away all of the stuffed stuff and brighten up the interior with a fresh coat of paint. He didn't understand why I would even ask him to do such a thing. I rejected the listing and walked away with an awful case of heebie jeebies.
"When I mentioned to my almost teen daughter that I just came from a taxidermist's house, she said, 'Oh, I hate math. I sure wouldn't want to do taxes.'"
Holdren & Associates
"I had an appointment to show an older couple a house at 1 in the afternoon. I always ring the doorbell; if no one answers, I use the key box. So I opened the door, yelled 'Realtor' and walked in.
"We noticed two pair of shoes, right in the middle of the foyer. I thought that was rude; the seller knew we were coming. We didn't get too far into the living room when we noticed one black sock. Then a second black sock, and a third sock, and a fourth. We kept walking through the living room and noticed a man's pair of pants in the hallway. Then a woman's pair. My eyes caught the buyers' eyes, and we both could tell that this might not be a good situation. I yelled 'Realtor' again. No response. For whatever reason, we kept walking when I could hear the shower running. Then voices and giggles.
"Eventually, we headed for the door at a fast walk. We all just looked at each other for what felt like five minutes. The husband finally broke the silence and said. 'I think I'll take two of these, please.'"
"I remember a ranch home I showed a few years ago. As we entered and went through the house, we lost track of the number of cats at 12. We found them on bookcases, furniture, on top of the fridge. But the thing that really stood out was the bedroom, which had been converted to a litter box. The carpet had been removed, the walls lined with at least litter boxes, and a cloud of kitty litter dust hung in the air. Needless to say, my clients didn't end up buying that house."
The Taylor Team
"Big, lush, mature trees are a very desired feature for most. When approaching a home with a van full of clients, we noted the beautiful fall colors the tree was displaying and how full and tall it was. When we stepped out of the van, it was another story.
"Ginkgo trees produce seeds that, when stepped on, create a rancid, awful, foul smell. We had no idea where the smell was coming from at first, but once we started stepping on hundreds of the little seeds and heard the pops beneath our feet, we realized what we'd got ourselves into.
"I had to have the carpets in my van cleaned and, being three months pregnant at the time, I had to go home and lie down the rest of the day. The horrible smell literally knocked me off my feet."
The Weiner Companies
"While showing a rental house, I encountered a bathtub full of water with three large ducks swimming about. Cute but quite a surprise."
Stefanie Pratt & Associates
"The strangest thing I've seen showing homes was when I walked into a nice, young, two-year-old home that was filled with very dated furniture. You know, the woodland scenery furniture everyone's grandparents had. That wasn't the kicker, though.
"Upon entering the master bedroom, we found all the walls had been painted baby blue and were covered in velvet paintings, and in the middle of the room was a huge, zebra-striped black and blue fur-covered waterbed. It literally looked like something out of Graceland."
Gallivan & Associates
"Several years ago, I listed a fabulous home in White Heath. It had it all — the right floor plan, tasteful decor, on the most gorgeous property I've ever seen. It sold right away.
"I received a phone call from the selling agent just hours before the closing telling me there is a strong natural gas odor coming from inside, the kind that levels a property. Authorities discovered that when the seller was doing a last-minute vacuum, she accidentally hit the key in the floor to the gas fireplace. Completely unaware, she left the house to fill with gas. Had the agent pushed the electric doorbell — she got distracted by the smell — the whole house might have blown up.
"The moral: Even the smoothest of transactions can always blow up in your face in the 11th hour."
1st Choice Realty
"My worst display happened recently. Unfortunately, I was the display. I was showing this house to a mom and her daughters. We were walking around talking in this big rec room, no big deal. In the corner was a seating area that was raised from the rest of the floor by about 2 inches. Well, while I was talking and looking at them I trip on it. In my mind, I thought I would catch myself, but no. I went down in a rather dramatic fall. She was a nurse and she's asking me if I am OK. Of course I am, although my hand is bleeding. In all my years of showing houses, that's a first.
"And no, they didn't buy the house."
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