I was showing houses this past weekend when that question came up from my buyers during a showing. The house I was showing was a train wreck. I could see 3 cats, and I think there were more. They owned the house and allowed the tenants of the home to live there.
The showing confirmation was hard to get. When my buyers and I finally got to the house, There were two agents standing outside with their buyers. I asked one of them what the deal was, and he said that there was another group of buyers in the house and the tenants didn’t want too many people in the house at one time. Maybe they should have allowed agents to show it? But hey, I’m just a real estate broker, what do I know.
I told my buyers that we were going to go in with the next group. We had other houses to see, and sitting outside waiting to see a house because the tenants didn’t want too many people in the house was just silly. Yes, there would be 3 people in the house instead of 6, deal with it. When we went up to the front door, we were greeted with the smell of cat. I don’t have any issues with anyone’s desire to have pets, but I can’t stand two things about pets during a showing. One, when a cat or dog makes the whole house smell, and two, when there is fur all over the floor.
There are days when I show houses that all I want to do afterwards is take a shower. This house certainly elicited this feeling. There was stuff everywhere, and it was pretty much impossible to tell the condition of the walls on the first floor because you couldn’t see them through the piles of papers and furniture. On the disclosure, it says the tenants aren’t moving out for two more months, so they just live that way.
The family in front of us switched over from English to speaking Spanish, so we left them and went our own way through the house. The tenant asked us if we’d like to see the basement. One of my buyers said yes, so we started down the steep, old wooden steps. When we got to the bottom of the steps, the door shut behind us, and one of my buyers said, “So this is how it ends, huh?” That was a reference to being murdered in the basement. I laughed. It wasn’t even a great basement. There was standing water in one corner, piles of stuff everywhere, and very few windows. My other buyer asked, “Can we just leave?”
I told both buyers that this was a train wreck, and that we might as well see the upstairs just to see how bad it was. After all, we’d come all this way, best to see it through. Plus, our next showing wasn’t scheduled for about another half hour so we really had nowhere else to go.
We got out of the basement and went to the second floor. The disclosure said that the house had brand new carpet as of three years ago. With the cats, it was going to need all new carpeting. As we walked out the front door, the tenant came right behind us and clicked the deadbolt lock. There couple speaking Spanish was still inside. I don’t know if they made it out.
When you watch the television shows or hear real estate commercials, they never talk about houses like this. It’s just assumed that every house is perfect and that every showing is just wonderful. A listing agent isn’t ever going to advertise their listing is ugly. There were definitely clues this house was going to be a mess. For one, we could hardly get an appointment to show it, and two, there was one word in the listing that is real estate code: Potential. Whenever you see “potential” it means that what the house is right now is a disaster. My buyers enjoyed the train wreck, and we saw other houses that day that were nice, so it all balances out.