Misadventures in Real Estate is a multi-part series about selling our home. In case you missed it, here is Part 1: Nature Abhors A Vacuum, Part 2: Don’t Bet On The Weather, and Part 3: Selling Your House Is Emotional
Part 4: The Realtor Cam-Oh Yes I Did!
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that potential buyers want to look in your pantry and kitchen cabinets. Maybe I was a little curious as to why they looked in the refrigerator. Open houses are the best for observing what happens when the cage door springs open, and little creatures are set loose upon your home. Toddlers with sippy cups and fidgety sprogs run rampant, sliding over shiny clean floors, finally flinging themselves onto furniture and climbing all over it as if it were monkey bars at the playground. One little boy sprawled luxuriously on our chaise lounge proclaiming, “this is the most comfortable chair”. At least our realtor asked for shoe removal during open house mayhem.
One evening a buyer’s realtor showed the house to a mom accompanied by her eight-year-old daughter. While mom and realtor were busy talking, Child was unattended and explored the kitchen perimeter, touching every appliance as she went. She stalled out at the toaster oven where she appeared to be turning it on. As I watched on the Realtor Cam, I made a mental note to turn if off when we got home.
The showing concluded and as we pulled into the driveway, I got a panicked call from our realtor. Child had an out-of-control melt-down in our house. I can tell that the realtor is preparing me for something bad as she takes a breath and finally gets to the point. Child drew on the wall with a pen.
We raced through the house, barely remembering to turn off the toaster oven on our way to the second-floor hallway where the alleged vandalism took place. There on the wall were remnants of two pen marks, each about a foot-long. Evidence of an overly enthusiastic, but unsuccessful attempt by the realtor to clean it left the outer paper layer of wallboard scraped off and devoid of paint.
Not every room of the house was covered by the Realtor Cam, so in this case, the following hours, days, and even weeks, were spent putting the pieces of the puzzle together like a true crime detective novel. Day one: Child’s ink drawing on computer printer paper is found on the desk in my husband’s basement office. Day two: printer not working. Investigation reveals the paper drawer left open and stack of paper askew. Conclusion: Realtor and/or clients helped themselves to paper and pen for Child to draw in (unsuccessful) attempt to avert meltdown. Same said pen was brought from basement to second floor for the purpose of marking the wall.
Day three: walking through the dining room, I step on something. A little blue stone. Next, I notice that my centerpiece for the dining room table, a simple bowl with little blue glass stones in it, has been pulled off-center. A few more steps around the table yields another stone underfoot, and so on, until I’m on my hands and knees picking up a dozen or more little blue stones. We conclude that Child grabbed stones to play a game that involved throwing them all over the floor.
Dining Room: Scene of the Crime
Later that day, the husband (who hasn’t actually seen the house yet) makes a low-ball offer. It seemed to me like a pity offer; as if to say, “Yeah, our kid wrecked your house but to make it up to you, we’ll to take it off your hands, for cheap.” We didn’t respond immediately and by the weekend, we had a second offer. Our realtor had the two offers bid against each other instead of counteroffering and we accepted the other (better) offer.
The family with the better offer seemed very enthusiastic about the house, writing an email that their two girls had already picked out their bedrooms and how much they all liked the house in general. Even though the offer was quite a bit lower than our starting point, I felt pleased that a new family was excited to call the place home. They planned to use the downstairs bedroom (that I had used as an office), as a bedroom for Mother-in-law and renovate the powder room into a full bath for her. They request a second showing for Mother-in-law a couple of days later.
Watching on the Realtor Cam, we can see that Mother-in-law uses a walker and we understand the importance of the first-floor bedroom and bath. Mother-in-law shuffles down the hallway to inspect her room while the rest of the family gathers around the kitchen island, smiling and looking animated and happy. A minute or two later, Mother-in-law comes back to the kitchen with a scowl on her face. Shortly afterward our agent called to tell us that the first-floor room was NOT up to par for Mother-in-law and the deal was off.
I asked our agent to contact the other buyer and Mr. Low-ball performed as expected by re-offering his original “pity” offer (which we didn’t accept).
Day 28: weeks later I was cleaning out the dining room sideboard in preparation for moving day and found some little blue stones in the drawer. Child’s mischief was the gift that kept on giving.
When you have a suspicion that a certain someone rummages through your personal belongings, did you ever fantasize about purposely planting a shocking or embarrassing item (use your imagination) to be found?