During the course of the last decade, most real estate companies conducted so-called caravans, by which I mean that all the realtors in any given office inspect all the new listings that have come on the market over the prior seven days, in order to acquaint them with the company’s current inventory. Many companies still do this although, in my opinion, it’s a wasted effort since the agents could be more usefully employed actually marketing the available homes.
Life Lesson: If Someone doesn't want you to visit... there might be a good reason!
Consequently, we stopped this practice a long time ago, replacing it with broker’s open houses for unique properties.
In any event, several years before, one of our agents, Christa Klein, had brought in a listing of an all brick split level in the west end of Allentown, a beautiful house that we scheduled first on our caravan tour that coming Tuesday.
As always, our receptionist called the owners to verify the Tuesday morning appointment to view the home. When Tuesday came, we joined two dozen other realtors at the house. I rang the doorbell and received no response, which was odd because the owner had definitely said that she’d be home. After knocking loudly and again, received no response, I decided to use the lock box on the front door. I had just begun spinning the dials when the door flew open.
The woman answering the door, presumably the owner, looked dumbfounded at seeing such a large group of people assembled in her front yard. “What are you doing here?” she asked, whereupon Christa took the lead, explaining that we were caravanning new listings and we were going to take a quick walk through the house just to get a look at the general layout.
But, she protested, the house was dirty. Couldn’t we come tomorrow instead? And when I explained that Tuesday was our day to do caravans, and went on to assure her that we would look past the grime, she protested that she had dishes in the sink. And when I told her that would not be a problem, she told us that she’d be right back and shut the door, only to reappear a few minutes later and lead us down to the basement, muttering something about giving her time to straighten up a little.
This was early in my career and most of our office was made up of women, so I was attempting to show off my vast knowledge, having just completed a construction course, and believing I actually knew something about it. As a consequence, I was busy explaining the type of electrical service in the house and the size of the beams when the owner reappeared and told us we could go through the rest of the home.
We stepped up into the family room and looked around, and then proceeded to the next level to look at the dining room and kitchen. There were a good many dishes in the sink in the kitchen, but certainly that didn’t detract from the nice oak cabinets and solid surface countertops.
Finally, we proceeded to the upper level and looked last at the master bedroom, which had its own bathroom and a walk in closet in which there was a trap door that allows access to the storage area of an attic.
Since there was a chair positioned directly underneath the trap door, I suggested that we take a look at the attic insulation and at the same time find out how much room there was for storage. But when I raised the door, I was surprised to find myself face to face with a pair of men’s bare legs, and looking up, saw that the gentleman in question was outfitted in nothing but boxer shorts.
“I’m working on the attic fan,” he said in a singularly unconvincing way, hoping no doubt to put us off.
But realtors are a curious bunch, and in the end every single member of my office staff wanted to also climb up on the chair and look at the man in the attic. This took about fifteen minutes. When we returned to the kitchen, we found our hostess pacing back and forth, wringing her hands. Then, pulling herself together with an obvious effort, she explained that the man in the attic was there to help her pack.
We later learned that the owner had been transferred to Texas where he had already started working while his wife remained at home to oversee the sale of the house. The sad part of the tale is that the husband called us two days later and told us he wanted the house removed from the market, because, he said, his wife was unhappy about the way we were “servicing” the property.
Needless to say, we failed to mention the man in the attic which she was apparently “servicing” very well.
Life Lesson: Investigate each situation before taking action.
Don't rush in without all the information!