Oh, Oh, Open House!


7 minute read

May 15, 2015

Wow!  What an experience!

My last open house shined a light on all the, um, “characters,” that come through your average open house on Saturday and Sunday from 2-4pm, and believe me when I say it was a revolving door at this insanely busy property in the east end.

Some folks make you smile, some make you shake your head, and some try to frustrate you, but what else should we expect?  It’s a public open house, and these are not all savvy buyers, and seasoned real estate veterans.

What a cast of characters!


The following is not a complete list, but it’s the highlights and the lowlights combined.

There were about 100-120 people through this house in the space of two days, which was one of the busiest open houses I’ve had in years.

There were a lot of very interested buyers; many of whom were actively looking, and used this as an opportunity to check out the house for the second time, having come already with their agents.

But then, as always, there were the characters.

And all characters have names, like the following….

Captain Prepared & Supergirl

This couple came in, and they were ready!

They looked like they stayed up all night planning their attack.

Between the two of them, they were holding a clipboard, a leather padfolio, measuring tape, flashlight, voltage detector, and what looked like a moisture reader to me.

They came inside, looked left, looked right, almost stood back to back, and then as though they broke out of a football huddle (minus the “reaaady BREAK” and clap), one of them headed upstairs, and one headed downstairs.

I didn’t follow them, so I’m not sure what exactly they were doing, but she came up from the basement with a pad full of notes, and when they passed each other on the stairs leading to the second level, he remarked, “Can’t pass by – stairs are narrow,” as she instinctively pulled out a measuring tape and investigated the width.

They didn’t ask a single question, and left.

The Spite-Filled, Would-Be Buyer

I’ve seen this person before.  Not this exact person, but this type of person.

I know the market is hot, and I know it’s frustrating.

After losing our second bid on a house last night, I got a text message from a buyer today saying, “David, I think we’ve come to the realization that the housing search is going to take longer than we initially thought.”

It’s tough.  But it’s Toronto!

So at the open house, this woman walks inside, and walks with purpose, as she approaches me and picks up a feature sheet, all while keeping eye contact.

She looks at the price, and says, “One Million ninety-nine thousand, hmmm?  So, if I offered you that price right now would you take it?”

You know where this is going, right?  She wants a fight.  She wants to entice me into an argument, because she’s frustrated with the price of real estate, and the way it’s sold in Toronto.

I told her, “I wouldn’t take the offer, or leave it.  It’s not my house.  I’m the agent.”

She forced out a nasal-laugh, and said, “Would your clients be open to negotiating on the price?”

She had no interest in the house, but just wanted to fight about today’s real estate market.  So I gave her what she wanted.

“Actually, ma’am, offers are being reviewed on Monday evening at 7pm.”

Her eyes lit up, and she launched into a tirade that I just know she had been practicing for twenty minutes as she walked up the street, and I sat there, and took it.

I can’t say I blame her.

Wait, no.  I can….

Ummm…..”Fridge Woman”?

I have no clue what to call this woman.

Nor do I have any idea what she was doing.

But I do know that she opened the refrigerator and stared into it for what seemed like five minutes, but since I knew I was going to put this into a blog post, and I didn’t want to be accused of exaggerating, I timed it on my iPhone.

85 seconds.

This woman stared into the fridge for 85 seconds, moving her head around as if it were on a swivel, rather than just using her eyes, which I do believe were not glued to the back of her head.

And the funny thing is – the sellers had moved out.  All that was in there was cheese and bottled water…

The Nicest People You’ve Ever Met

This couple was so cute!

It was like a Saturday Night Live skit, with Will Ferrell and Cheri O’Teri and their eyes wide open with excitement, ear-to-ear grin, and jaw dropped.

They walked around like they’d never been in a house before, and then the guy said to me, “Do you think it would be okay if we saw the basement?”

Why wouldn’t it be?

I told them to have at it, and they came up a few minutes later.

They approached the stairs leading to the second level, and paused, as though their feet were stuck in mud.

I watched from the corner of my eye, waiting, waiting…..waiting, for the inevitable: “Could we maybe go upstairs and see what’s up there?”

Why can’t everybody be this nice?  Maybe not this clueless and helpless but at least this nice…

The Most Clueless People You’ve Ever Met

I’m sorry to be mean.

But somebody walked in, and in the midst of thirty pairs of shoes by the door, and bodies passing by, looked me dead in the face and said, “Hello.  Is this an open house?”

No, it’s not.

I just invited strangers over, faked some brochures, and stole somebody’s OPEN HOUSE sign and put it outside on the sidewalk – you know, the one you had to step over to get inside today.

The Cleaning Lady

This was weird.

During the agent’s open house, which is always on a weekday from 11’ish to 1’ish, normally the day after the listing comes out, this old lady came in and kept shouting, “I clean, I clean, I clean!”

She told all the agents there, “I clean!  I clean this house!”

I knew she didn’t clean the house, since I knew who the sellers used.

But she came back to the public open house on Saturday and kept telling people again, “I clean this house!  I clean.”

And yes, as you might expect, she came back on Sunday as well…

The Know-It All

You always get one of these guys at the open house.

He has no interest in the house, but wants to expose you as a fraud.

He’s usually thin, tall, plain, and with wire-rimmed glasses.  He’s usually wearing a short-sleeve dress shirt as well.

This time, he started with “any knob-and-tube wiring in the house?”  A simple question, but my simple, “Nope” answer was too short for his liking.

“How can you be sure?” he asked.

“My clients have renovated extensively, and they didn’t find any.  They bought the house from sellers who also had renovated, and there was no knob-and-tube wiring then.”

He shook his head, as though I just told him his wife’s cooking tasted like crap.

“Is the supply line from the street 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch?” he asked, without missing a beat.

“1/2 inch,” I told him, but he wasn’t interested in the answer since he’d already moved on to, “Did these owners underpin the basement?  Did they find any moisture when they did so?”

I mean, I know that he’s being diligent, I get it.

But just trust me when I say that he didn’t care about the answers.

He asked me when the battery in the sump pump was last changed.  Who asks that!?!?!?

He asked me when the house was converted from oil to gas!  He felt it prudent to say, “You know, all these homes were heated with oil when they were first built.  You really should know the year it was converted to gas.”

I probably wasn’t born when that conversion happened, but alas, I probably should have known.

He peppered me with questions, and while I know some of my colleagues would have told him to move on so they could answer other people’s questions, sometimes I’m just too nice.  I stood there and answered about twenty questions, until he finally “got me.”

“Is all the plumbing in the house copper?” he asked.

“Yes, I believe so.” I told him.

He smiled.  It was what you call a bleep-eating-grin.

“Nah.  Nah man.  There’s Kitec down there.  I saw a blue tube under the stairs.”

Then he gave me the dressing-down he was waiting for: “Listen man, I’m gonna give you a piece of advice.  You can’t go around telling people it’s all copper piping when there’s Kitec.  It’s not the same thing, and you’re misrepresenting the property.”

I smiled, and thanked him for his help.

What can I say?

I’m there to represent the house, and the seller…

Carpet Girl

Tell me if I’m out of line here, but if you were at the ballet, you wouldn’t stand up in the middle and start screaming at the lead ballerina to ask her where she got her dress.

This girl came into the open house on Saturday and marvelled at the property, but specifically the carpet.

She said it would be a perfect fit for her new family room, and asked me if I knew where it came from.

I did, in fact.  So I told her: “This came from the stagers’ warehouse.”

She was disappointed, and asked me if I could help her source the carpet.

I told her that perhaps there was a tag on the carpet, and to peel up each of the four corners to see if perhaps a model number or barcode was present.

Alas, there was not.

But she didn’t want to give up.  This carpet was, apparently, perfect!

So she asked me if I could reach out to the stager inquire as to where they got the carpet from, and I said that I would.  And I did.  I emailed my stager, took down the girl’s info, and told her I would be in touch if I heard back.

On Sunday afternoon, I was a bit surprised to see the girl again, since she had already been through  the house on Saturday, and I had a feeling she wasn’t really a buyer.

She offered a polite salutation, and then stood there, somewhat sheepishly.

I had to draw it out of her – but finally, she asked, “ANY WORD FROM THE STAGER?”  She was red-faced with excitement.

Jesus.  It’s just a carpet.  Right?

I told her that unfortunately, I hadn’t heard back from the stager.  She acted like her grandmother just died, and she begged me to find out about the carpet.

I went on with my open house for the next hour-and-a-bit, packed up my laptop, locked the door, and left.

You meet a lot of people at open houses, but 99.9% of them are people you never hear from, or interact with again.

On Monday morning, I’m sitting in my office, drinking my Tim Horton’s, and a “ding” goes off as I receive a new email:

“Hi David, hope you had a great weekend!  Any news on that carpet?”


And I got her email address, remember.  I never gave her mine.

So she went online, found my contact information, and emailed me to follow up.

Is that normal?

I love open houses, honestly, I do.

It’s like a reality TV show, but better.

You deal with all kinds of people, and they keep you on your toes.

Some are crazy, some are rude, some are delightful, and some leave a lasting impression.

I won’t be doing an open house this weekend, however.

Have a safe and happy long weekend, everybody!  Enjoy Victoria Day, and be honest with yourself – you have absolutely, positively, no clue who “Victoria” is…



Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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  1. A Grant

    at 7:25 am

    And I thought the biggest problem were lookie loos…

  2. Clive

    at 8:58 am

    So…any word on that carpet?

  3. Marina

    at 9:11 am

    I think I saw the know-it-all in a coffee shop the other day. He asked the barista where the coffee beans came from, how they were roasted, how the decaffeinated coffee was decaffeinated, the caffeine content per cup of each type of roast… then he ordered tea.
    I assumed that was the longest conversation he had all day and was reluctant for it to end.

    1. Kyle

      at 10:57 am

      Both the post and this comment are gold. Thanks for the Friday laugh.

    2. A Grant

      at 9:45 pm

      I guess he thinks Portlandia is a documentary

  4. Paully

    at 11:13 am

    Ahhh…the Real Estate version of tire kickers. Such a joy, for sure.

    I wonder if any of them will read this post and recognize themselves from your descriptions?

  5. DavidP

    at 11:13 am

    I need to know where that carpet is from NOW.

  6. willy

    at 11:15 am

    Another reason I hate open houses.

    The sanctimonious sales people who look down on the guests.

    Yes, you are better than us.

  7. No thanks

    at 12:19 pm

    Why do Realtors always insist would-be buyers “sign in” at open houses? Am I the only one who gives them fake information? How many people named “M. Mouse” come to a typical open house?

    1. Nugatory

      at 1:07 pm

      Because the real purpose of the open house is for the salesperson to market him or herself and obtain a list of potential new clients. Is why often the salesperson at open houses is new and fronting for the real listing salesperson.

  8. Joe Q.

    at 2:14 pm

    David, you forgot about the types who loudly bitch about the decor, layout, etc. “I just hate what they did with this kitchen. The colour is ugly.” “I’d rip out the floor and put in a new one.” “I can’t understand why didn’t they just knock down this wall and open up the space.” “This bathroom looks like it’s right out of the 1980s. We would just take it all out and put in a new one.” etc.

    When we were actively going to open houses (as buyers) we used to hear this a lot.

  9. James Deen

    at 5:23 pm

    Next time Professor Frink shows up at an OH, just use the line “oh we had a home inspector go through the place, and although I’m sure they did a thorough job, I just have to wonder…do you want to take a look at the basement and see if you can spot anything from your experience?”
    Their eyes light up, nipples pop out, they have a mission and they are on it like TO press on a newly announced Leafs coach.

    That should get rid of the nerd for at least 20 minutes.

  10. Pingback: Best Real Estate Articles of the Month: MayLone Wolf Real Estate Technologies

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