7 Real Estate Agents Confess Their Weirdest Showings, From Drunk Buyers to Naked Sellers

updated Jun 11, 2021
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Credit: Laura Hoerner

I was 9 years old and stubborn when my family decided to move from the Detroit area to Denver. I had a good thing going in Michigan: The Detroit Pistons were on a winning streak and I was in the lead in my elementary school’s reading competition. So, I pulled all kinds of stunts to try and thwart the move. I enlisted my friends to help dig up the “For Sale” sign from my front yard (I thought that was all it took to get my childhood home off the market). I let M.C. Hamster loose in his rollerball before showings. And I made a handwritten sign that said “This house is haunted with a lot of ghosts,” using bubble gum to stick it to the wall in my bedroom. 

Most of the time, open houses and real estate showings go perfectly well (considering you avoid these mistakes). Maybe a deal is struck, or, at the very least, there are chocolate chip cookies to nibble and you can glean some design ideas. Other times, things go awry and a pet hamster makes an unexpected cameo. (My sincerest apologies to the Century 21 Detroit team, circa early 1990s.)

We asked real estate agents about the rare occasions when showings and open houses went less than smoothly. Here, they share their most awkward and bizarre showing stories. 

Now that’s a showing 

“We had an elderly seller who purposely came out naked when my husband and business partner Michael Abrams was showing her glamorous Central Park West pre-war apartment. Quickly thinking, Michael told the buyers it would be best to reschedule the showing. We ultimately sold the apartment and the couple was thrilled and moved to a luxury rental. Several months after the sale, the woman told us she did it purposely to scare potential buyers, because, at the time, she did not want to sell the apartment and her husband wanted to sell.” —Broker Susan Abrams of Warburg Realty in New York City

A case of whodunit 

“Once during an open house, I noticed halfway through that the ‘For Sale’ sign out front was missing. I’d put it up the day before—and it’d been there when I arrived—so I found this very strange. I remarked to one of the potential buyers browsing the house that my sign was missing, and she said that she saw another browser pull it out and toss it in the back of his truck. I knew right away who she was talking about—it was a guy I’d given my card to just a few minutes prior. He apparently loved the house so much that I’m pretty sure he stole the sign to make sure no one else got to buy it.” —Connie Heintz, the founder of DIY Offer, a home buying and selling directory

Credit: Laura Hoerner

Good vibes only 

“I once had a buyer who insisted on being in each room by herself so she could feel the aura in every part of the apartment  in order to find out if there were any bad spirits occupying the unit. This involved lying down on the floor with her arms stretched out and her eyes closed. After several minutes in a room, she would come out and say whether the aura and vibes were acceptable to her. At the end of the showing, she lit a candle that she pulled out of her purse, said a prayer, blew the candle out and went on her way. She didn’t end up buying the apartment.” —Broker Bill Kowalczuk of Warburg Realty in New York City

A drunken haze

“I showed a house one day in Fort Worth, Texas, and the potential buyers showed up intoxicated. The scary thing about this is that they drove to the home to see it. The woman puked in the backyard, and the guy was making inappropriate sex jokes in the bedroom. They even asked me if they could move into the home without purchasing it since they didn’t have any money. I finally got them to leave, and I called the police and reported them and gave a description of the car they were driving.” Benjamin Ross, a Texas-based real estate agent and landlord

A slithery situation

“I was showing a home to a client in Greenville, South Carolina, and I pulled down the attic steps and found a sizable snake skin right on the steps. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure spiked for a bit.”—Sandy Walker of Walker Riverside Properties in South Carolina

Sorry to interrupt… 

“I went to show a property several years ago. I knocked on the door and no one answered. I opened the door and announced who I was and still no response. So I proceeded to walk through the house with a buyer. We came to a bedroom, opened the door, and there on the bed was a naked man sound asleep. Not a stitch of clothing. We left that house so fast I don’t even remember my feet touching the floor. I had to tell the listing agent what happened just in case the seller complained. She was as mortified as I was.” —Robyn Flint, a home insurance specialist at USInsuranceAgents.com a and licensed real estate agent in Bedford, Virginia

Credit: Laura Hoerner

A property that’ll snap you up 

“I did some pro bono work a few years back to help a friend out, searching for a structure that could be used as a Buddhist temple in Florida. My friend found a place online that had a lock box to access the property, so I call for showing instructions. The receptionist says, ‘Please park outside, the landscape is overgrown.’ I say OK. Receptionist says, ‘Don’t sit on the swing in the yard because it’s broken.’ I say OK.  Receptionist says, ‘Don’t go to the back because there are aggressive alligators.’ I say ‘Uh, OK.’ The receptionist says, ‘One more thing, don’t play with the S&M equipment.’” Jeff Lichtenstein, owner and founder of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury real estate brokerage in Florida