Monday, April 27, 2009

Showing the Shitter

I am often asked about the horrors I have seen in my real estate career. I thought I would share some with you today. I call it, showing the shitter.

First off you have to understand that not everyone is looking for the perfect home. Investors usually have the stomach to take that worst house on the block and see past everything to what it could be. Notice I say usually...

The worst house I was in was in an awesome neighborhood and had fantastic curb appeal. I wondered why it had been on the market for so long at that price. I didn't have to wonder long. The first thing was that the house was completely covered in ivy vines and they had even grown over the windows so the house was very dark when you walked in. There was no electricity since it was bank owned so my investor and I started to walk the house. I am not usually scared by much except spiders but the hair on the back of my neck started to stand on end. Since the house was in an eerie light we were just checking out the layout. Until we reached the kitchen. There in the middle of the floor was a pool of dried blood complete with hand prints and a trail of blood where someone had obviously crawled towards the door. I tried to ignore it and got to the basement but there I got such a creepy feeling that I actually ran up the stairs and grabbed my client and ran like my life depended on it. We got out the door and I was putting the lockbox back on when something brushed the top of my head. I jumped screaming from the porch, rubbing my hair franticly. My poor investor was laughing so hard she had to sit on the ground. I guess a chain was hanging down from the door and that is what brushed against me. I could barely make myself go back to finish locking up before peeling out of there! I never knew what happened at that house but I will always remember to drive around that house when showing the neighborhood!

Another house was what I called the porn house. I walked in and imediately told my client to try and ignore the 6 dildos sitting on the living room table. That was actually not the worst we would find. The bedroom was completely covered from floor to ceiling in naked men cut out of magazines, whips and other props were littering the floor, her computer was scrolling a very dirty message and her closet was filled with leather. The kitchen had not been cleaned in weeks and there was moldy dishes in the sink, dildos on the table, dirty photos on the fridge and a dog coller on the floor (I didn't see evidence of a dog though). Every surface of the house had dirty magazines and videos, and nothing had been cleaned in a very long time. I just told my poor client that she was not to touch anything and we still laugh about it to this day!

One of the dirtiest houses I have ever seen was a really nice $400K house...if you could see the actual house. When I set the showing, they said I had to turn off an alarm in the laundry room and gave me instructions on how to get to the laundry room. What they failed to mention is that the people living there were such pigs that getting to the laundry room was going to be near impossible. As you all know, when turning off an alarm you have a small window before the cops are called and you are on the front lawn face down in the grass with a gun at your head trying to explain why you are in the house. Therefore, I am always a little cautious when I know I have an alarm. So I open the door to the house and realize that it is the only space in the entire house that has a clear path. Surrounding that small arch where the door opens is a mass of clothing, trash, shoes, what I suspect was once food, toys, children missing for years, etc! I try to step between the piles but I am failing miserably. Crunching, squeeking and falling, I head for the laundry room and the alarm. It is beeping louder and louder and I finally locate the room. The problem is that the door is completely blocked with pile of crap taller that me. There is a small opening in the door where if you lean just right you can get one arm and your head in to turn it off. The problem is that you are leaning on the dirty pile of stuff. What is in that stuff is what concerns me! If these people are ok living like this, what does that say for the state of their underwear????? But I must turn this stupid alarm off! I bravely take a deep breath of stale air and lean in. Once the alarm is off. I turn towards the rest of the house. I can see outside and there is a huge pitbull trying to knock the glass door in to get to me. In front of him is raw chicken cuttlets thrown out and rotting. The kitchen has the worst smell I have ever smelled and I can't even stomach going in. Even the stairs going up have every inch covered with crap. I have never seen such filth. I turned my client around and sent her out. I was supposed to turn the alarm back on but I figured these people were safe because if someone broke in they would probably be consumed by the piles of crap and never seen again (and let's face it, that huge pile in front of the laundry room probably held at least 2 previous realtors showing the house).

The moral of the story is that even the strongest stomache can't take the worst of these houses!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Importance of having your house market ready and priced right

When I go to a listing appointment I am always ready for the best of times and the worst of times. I have been lucky to have my last few listings staged perfectly, clean and sellers that are ready and willing to listen.
The first thing you want to do when getting a house market ready is listen to your Realtor. We know the market and what is selling so if you are unwilling to move from a high price or unwilling to do some freshening up, you shouldn't be putting your house on the market.
I put a lot of time and money into my listings so I expect that you do the same. I always ask for a clean house, pets put away (I know Fido is the nicest dog when you are around but when faced with strangers entering their house, they are not the same dog), smells eliminated (cooking smells are almost as bad as smoke or pet smells), and all evidence of you...Gone!
Pricing is so important when putting your house on the market. If you price too high, you will lose up to 35% of the market because they will miss it on their initial search and even when you drop the price 3 months later, the buyer will either be gone or wonder what is wrong with your house.
Fixing up your house and doing little things like touch up paint, changing out fixtures, carpet and grout cleaning, adding plants and light scented candles, keeping the grass and shrubs cut and neat, make all the difference in setting your house apart from the competition. To go above and beyond, hire someone to stage the house. You can use your furniture or rent theirs but they are worth every penny!