Observations From Afar…

As many of you know, I sold my own condo last week.

I made many observations on the process – notably the showings, and I’ll tell ya – it’s a lot different when you’re simply selling a property for your client…

When I’m showing houses and condos to my buyer-clients, we often leave no stone unturned.

I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve never witnessed a client do anything inappropriate while in somebody else’s home, but I’d like to think I’ve never crossed the line myself.

Oh, I’ll look at personal photos all day and night.  And if you leave a bank statement face-up on the kitchen counter, forgive me if I accidentally take a look!

Listing your house or condo and allowing strangers to muscle through is one of the most invasive and violating experiences that anybody can go through.

And during the last couple weeks, I went though the process myself.

I’ve sold my own properties before, but never through such an open and drawn-out process.  I listed my condo on Tuesday, September 13th, and reviewed offers on Monday, September 19th, so there were six full days where I had strangers trekking through my home, and each day provided for new experiences and observations.

I took out about 90% of my possessions and brought in about $1,000 worth of IKEA, HomeSense, BB&B, and rental furniture and staging items, so it’s not like I left a drawer full of money on the counter or a sex-tape playing in the VCR.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t come home every night and notice things were out of place.

I awoke every morning at 8AM, and after showering, shaving, and getting dressed, I had to “re-ready” the condo.  That meant wiping the entire bathtub & shower walls, bathroom sink & mirror, and kitchen sink, and putting the towel in the washing machine.  I had to turn on the lights, put on the music, take the cords out of the TV so it looked cleaner, and adhere to about a dozen other minor fixes each and every morning.

I never came home before 9:30PM, and I didn’t sleep at the condo on the weekend.

If you want top dollar, you have to show your house or condo in tip-top shape.  And you simply cannot be home during business hours, which in real estate means 9AM to 9PM, seven days per week.

On the first night of the listing, I came home and found two knee prints on the duvet on my bed.

I’m nothing if not obsessive-compulsive, and I made the bed perfectly each and every morning without a single ripple or ruffle in the duvet.

I saw two distinct knee-prints as soon as I came into the bedroom, and my mind started racing.

I hoped that the knee-prints were just from somebody kneeling over and reaching to open the curtains; perhaps looking outside the window to see what the natural light was like.  But I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if it was something else?”

A couple days later, I came home to find a full body-print on the duvet!

It was like somebody did a snow angel on the bed, and short of the chalk-outline, I knew a large person had laid down at one point during a showing.

Short of some luminol and my dear friend Gil Grissom, I was unable to determine the cause or purpose of this body-mark.  I didn’t have time to do a full load of laundry, so I went to sleep that night with my mind racing, yet again.

On the second day of the listing, I came home to find one of the apples missing from the “staged” set of bright red Empire apples.  I am positive that whoever took this apple regretted it later on.  You see, I’ve always found that in order to get the apples their shiniest and really bring out that bright, dark red colour in photographs, it’s best to spray and shine the apples before-hand with Lemon Pledge.  One look at the can and you’ll know that this stuff is NOT to be ingested.

Over the weekend open house, a second apple went missing.  The E.R. must have been busy this week with mysterious food poisoning…

On the fourth day of the listing, I found that a lot of my shirts had been moved around in the closet.  I took the liberty of purchasing about thirty wooden hangers to stage the condo (and to keep, obviously, so I could set new highs for “Yuppie-ness”), and all of my dress shirts were perfectly displayed about 1/2 inch apart.  I found that several of the hangers were backwards, and the colour scheme had been changed.

So either somebody was just messing with an obsessive yuppie, or somebody had themselves an impromptu fashion show with a Paul Smith theme.

I emptied the kitchen and bathroom garbages every single morning, and each morning I replaced the kitchen garbage bag.  One day I came home to find, of all things imaginable, an empty yogurt container in stainless steel trash can in the bathroom.

Really?

Was somebody really eating yogurt in my bathroom?

Who goes to view a condo and opens up a cup of Activia?  And who does this in the bathroom?

In my kitchen garbage, I found about a dozen empty Starbucks cups, two Tim Horton’s cups, and a lonely cup from Timothy’s.  If that’s not an all-telling story, then I don’t know what is.  I’m willing to be the person who left the Timothy’s cup behind was not going to be in competition with six other offers come offer night…

I also found a cigarette butt in my kitchen garbage, which I was not happy about.

As the owner of a large terrace, I’m often the victim of assholes above me who smoke their Player’s Lights (seriously, it’s 2011 – who still smokes?), and simply toss the butts down below for the peons to deal with.

I hoped that perhaps a friendly cooperating agent found a disgusting butt on the terrace, picked it up, and put it in the garbage.  But something tells me that I’m being naive. 

Did somebody have a smoke in my condo?

I found an unflushed toilet once, but that didn’t bother me a whole lot (it was number one, for those of you wondering…).

Despite all these subtle violations, I really didn’t feel any displeasure during the six day listing period.  These things are all small, unimportant observations that make me realize how much worse it could have been.

Of course, there was an incident on the Thursday night of my listing that really bothered me.

I came home just after 9:30PM, put my key in the lock, and turned the key only to feel that the tumblers had already made their way around; the door was unlocked.  I opened the door, and a young guy who looked like every dude in every teen drama on TV looked at me and said, “Hey bra, can ya give us a couple mins?”

He added, “I’m showing.”

Dealing from a position of strength, since it was a seller’s market, I had a very unique condo, there had been 25 showings booked in three days, and I’d already had one bully-offer attempt, I continued into the kitchen and said, “I’m the owner….bra.”

I should mention that his appointment was from 7:30PM – 8:00PM, and he was over 90 minutes late.  I understand that showings run late, but I didn’t feel like I needed to accommodate him.

He looked at his client – another dude from “That Teen Movie,” and then said to me, “Totally cool, totally cool, but I’m wondering if you can’t give us a few minutes anyways?  We really need to feel at home in the space and it’s tough to do with somebody else present.”

I don’t have a garburator, but I’m positive that I could have mashed his face into the kitchen drain.

Instead, I said, “No worries – I’ll be out on the terrace,” and I set up my laptop while they meandered about the condo for another ten minutes.

He left his card behind, and I looked him up on Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

If I had to guess, I’d say he’s been in the business for less than six months.

His Facebook profile, which is completely open, offers about a dozen shirtless-drinking photos and it looks like he’s an outstanding beer pong player – not only from his glory days at Western, but also from his frequent trips to Collingwood.

Overstepping?

I don’t think so…

In the end, I probably deserved a lot worse.

I show about fifty properties every single week, and I know what people do when they look around with nobody to keep them in order.  Oh, the stories I could tell…

I always counsel my clients, “Selling your property is going to make you extremely vulnerable, and you have to mentally check-out before you’ve signed the papers.”  Buyers really do want to feel “at home” when they’re look around, and when there’s no personal photos, let alone nobody physically there, it almost feels like a model suite that nobody lives in.

So to conclude – I can’t tell any racy stories about things my clients may or may not have done in somebody else’s house or condo, but I’m hoping that some of you can…

6 Comments

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  1. JC says:

    I’m going through this now. Agents showing up over an hour late and walking in with their cell phone in hand… but not calling to let anyone know they’d be late, using the facilities and not flushing, etc. Agents that say they have no idea why something in the bedroom ended up downstairs… (where the hell were they?) And my personal pet peeve…. Agents who despite being told when confirmation is given, and a placard when they walk in, NOT leaving a business card. You come home and find all this shit having gone on in your home and you have no idea who was even in there. 30 showings and perhaps only 18 cards left.

  2. George says:

    (Some) people suck.

    Totally experiencing the Players Lights falling from above onto my terrace too!

  3. MI Girl says:

    When I sold my condo I also had 2 disturbing incidents. Once I came home to find a small blood stain on my duvet. I never did figure out how someone cut themself during a showing or why they felt my duvet would make a good kleenex. And another time I came home the entire 2nd floor smelled of pot. I guess they really needed to feel “at home” and chill in the space!

  4. Darren says:

    I agree with Lui. I’ve twice come home to find the door unlocked after a viewing.

  5. lui says:

    David have you had anything stolen from your units?…thats the fear I have leaving expensive staging items then so wacko real estate agent (no offense) leave the front door unlock or maybe their clients decides the $200 vase would look great on her table.

  6. Moonbeam! says:

    Ha-ha! thanx for the morning chuckle, I laughed so hard I almost spilled my coffee! This is a wake-up call for sellers to strip their property when staging. And don’t tease, I’d love to read some of the crazy stuff you’ve seen buyers do at showings!!

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