I had just co-listed a home with my mom Micki, and we were getting ready for an open house when I met the owners’ cat. Buster was hissing, screaming, and waving his claws like crazy—so much so that I was scared and left the house.
My mom was putting signs in the front yard, and I went out and told her what was happening. She said, “Oh Heidi, if you’re going to be in this business, you can’t let a little cat scare you.” She went into the house saying she’d put Buster in his kennel. I felt a little embarrassed as I waited outside. But after another minute, I heard a scream and a door slam shut and I saw my mom coming toward me, dragging her leg. Her pants were torn from the middle of her calf down to her ankle, and she had bloody scratches on her leg.
We had to call the owners to come and take Buster away and make sure he was removed from showings. I’m sure Buster was happy the home sold in a week. I learned that day—and so did my mom—that small pets can sometimes be a big problem
When I landed the listing for a huge, high-end home in 2007, I went all out and hired videographers to put together a sleek online home tour. I even convinced the local newspaper to highlight the home in its “House of the Week” feature. The newspaper sent its own photographer to shoot the home, and the home owner was there to point out several antique items such as a grandfather clock and numerous paintings.
After the article ran, the seller, who worked at a regional hospital, told his coworkers about the story so they could go online to see it. But once they took a closer look at the pictures, they noticed that some of the expensive antiques that had gone missing from their workplace appeared to be in his home.
If the seller had told photographers, “please don’t photograph these items—I’m afraid of being robbed,” no one would have thought twice about it. Instead, my online home tour for the listing was requested by police as evidence.
I’ve seen it all in real estate. That’s why I tell people that, even in a market low on inventory, you might want to take a pass on the listing when the home has:
- Motorcycles, cars, and mattresses parked on the front lawn - A pit bull named Trouble.
- A shotgun leaning against the wall—that the seller used to threaten his last attorney.
- Table lamps designed to look like human skulls.
- A refrigerator magnet that reads “Inmate of the Month.”
- A seller who claims his home is the nicest on the block, as he leans against exposed studs.
These tips are all based on real experiences. The questions these encounters raise are better off left unasked.....
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