Home News These Open Houses Were Going Just Fine—Until the Owners Started Acting Up

These Open Houses Were Going Just Fine—Until the Owners Started Acting Up

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Q: What’s the dumbest thing an owner has ever done at an open house?

Jason Orsini, Realtor, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Plainview, NY

I had a listing in Farmingdale, a 4 bedroom, 2 bath split owned by one man and listed for $599,000. I always price my home a little below market value to generate a lot of action. So there were 30 or 40 people at the open house waiting outside to enter due to Covid protocols. Everyone wore masks and took off their shoes, and only one family was allowed in. seller. He wore a wig, cross-dressing, and manicure, but had a bruise on his cheek and protruding hair. People were asking questions, but this particular couple had trained me to the point where I thought they were being tested by the state, so I covered all the protocols. You were trying to get information from me and I answered everything properly. After the open house, I called the client to report what had gone well and that one couple had a lot of questions and thought they were really interested. Never mentioned that I knew the woman was my customer. After we closed, he finally had a blast—at $639,000 over the list.

Seth Madore, Associate Broker, The Corcoran Group, Shelter Island, NY


Hannah Baltic

My client was an 83-year-old co-owner and trustee of an 8,000-square-foot property on Shelter Island. I didn’t really want to sell it, but her daughter, who had built a trusting relationship with her mother, wanted to sell it. While I was promoting the house, I held an open house. He came downstairs in a tank top and boxers to grill potential buyers about their ethnicity. I insulted someone who was in The same was true during the screening. Imagine a cross between fathers in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He was deliberately provocative and insulting to frighten away buyers. One time, a foreign mixed-race family came to see the house. He stood there with his hair all disheveled in his boxers and began asking questions about the history and biology of ancient Greece and what their ethnicity was. It was a nightmare. The owner ended up taking the house off the market.

Nurit Coombe, Managing Partner, The Agency, Washington DC, Metro Area

I was hosting an open house for a $1.3 million listing at Bethesda. People were lining up to enter the five-bedroom house, and the owner was just about to leave. A family with two small children went down to the basement and looked around when suddenly they heard screams. I went downstairs to see why they were screaming. In the basement was a black snake five feet long. The homeowner ran downstairs, opened the closet and took out an axe. When he opened the basement door, the snake got out and wrapped itself around a tree. The owner chased with an ax and began to chop the snake into pieces. People in the basement were watching, as were other potential buyers on the upper decks overlooking the scene. Those who watched were heartbroken. Mothers with children hurriedly took them outside. Everyone else left too. It was crazy. This house actually sold him for $1.36 million that day.

—Edited from an interview by Robyn A. Friedman

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