Four years ago, my real estate partner and I sat the same open house twice a week for six straight months. The house was a 4,000 square foot, two-story Mediterranean in the Pacific Palisades of Los Angeles. Without getting into too much detail for fear of retribution, the seller was completely insane. He was an elderly, Gollum-esque figure who was socially crass and delusional about how much his home was actually worth.
Because it was our only listing at the time, we stuck with him and battled through multiple price reductions because of…well…commission. That all changed on one fateful Sunday when something happened that scared us away from “The Palisades House” forever.
It started like any other open. We placed a few depleted signs in front of the house and on neighboring street corners, and then cautiously knocked on the front door. We prayed the seller would be absent. Of course, he immediately opened the door, and let out the all-too-familiar stench of tobacco and marijuana. Inside (basically in every room), the seller kept a plethora of clumsily put together smoking apparatuses that he claimed were the “next big thing” in medicine. They most certainly were not…
Once we stepped in the door I gently asked him if he planned on leaving for a little while, hoping that we might actually get to court buyers without him lurking over our shoulders. He said he would take his little rat dog for a walk around the block… which meant he would be back before it even started. All of this was standard.
In the meantime, my partner and I journeyed to different levels of the house to turn on the lights and open up the windows. I was sanctioned to the upstairs and master suite where I carefully tip-toed around the glass pipes to let in some air, and attempt to make his lair appear to be slightly welcoming. As I began to descend down the steps, I noticed something shiny out of the corner of my eye laying on the bed. I stepped back up and noticed it was not another bong, but a twelve gauge shotgun. Great.
I fearfully called down to the seller and told him to get it the hell out the room. I explained that visitors might feel a little uncomfortable with a SHOTGUN out in the open. He nonchalantly giggled and murmured, “no problem,” and grabbed the weapon. I was understandably rattled and left to tell my business partner what I had seen. As we were laying out the sign-in sheets, we heard a sadistic cackle at the top of the steps. We looked up and saw our wonderful seller pointing the shotgun directly at our feet. “HEEEYYY booyys!” We screamed and dove behind the support pillars as he screamed, “BANG! BANG!” at the top of his lungs. He laughed hysterically, put the gun away, and walked his little dog out the front door like nothing happened.
My partner turned to me and whispered, “Never again.” I disagreed for a second because it was an expensive house, but quickly came to the conclusion that our safety and well-being is slightly more important than the check that may or may not come from the potential sale. The moral of the story is simple: the commission ain’t always worth it. And, on the seller side, always remove potentially offensive and unsafe items from your home. Trust me, it will most definitely have a negative impact on the sale.
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