It’s not always easy to view a house that is for sale #712

#712 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Sometimes at a party we’ll tell people we’re real estate agents and someone will say, “That must be fun. I love looking at houses.” We like looking at houses too, but sometimes things happen.

Once, for example, we found a house in the multiple listing that sounded like it might work for a client. The instructions for getting in were: Call the owner, leave a message, then use the lockbox.

Because it sometimes happens that houses still in the active listings are already sold, we called the agent to check. This house was not sold yet; we could go ahead and see it.

“There is a dog there,” the agent said, “But he’s quite old and shouldn’t give you any trouble.” So we left the owner a message, went to the house, got the key out of the lockbox, and opened the front door. Immediately an alarm went off.

This is one of an agent’s worst nightmares. There you are in a house you don’t know, often with clients standing alongside, and an alarm is blaring. You don’t know how to shut it off. You don’t know if the police are about to arrive. What you want to do is get out of there, just leave it and go, but you can’t do that.

What we did was run back to the lockbox to see if we’d overlooked some little slip of paper tucked inside with instructions for the alarm. No paper. We ran back inside the house and looked around. Next to the alarm keypad were the instructions. Anet turned it off.

“Whew,” we said, laughing. “Another alarm beaten into submission. Thank goodness.” We started through the house. There was the dog. Old, yes, but not welcoming. He growled and looked serious. We left.

Since we still hadn’t seen the house, we called to make a new time to see it. “We’d like to see the house sometime this week. Would tomorrow at 1 be okay?” we inquired. The owner said that would be fine. The owner wouldn’t be home, his housekeeper would be there. She knows the dog and the alarm would be off.

We went back and rang the doorbell. No one came to the door. We used the lockbox key again, and as we were about to enter, we heard – just barely – a little voice saying, “Hello.” It took a minute and several more hellos to identify the voice as coming from a small boy leaning out of an upstairs window.

“We’re stuck up here,” said the boy, “my mother and me. We came to clean the house. The dog won’t let us downstairs.”

“Great,” I said to Anet, “We’ve got the dog and the housekeeper and a little boy. What now?”

We went into the house to find the dog growling at the bottom of the stairs. He still looked old, maybe harmless – who could tell? – but we didn’t think we’d better test it. The dog obviously didn’t like people in his house, even people he knew.

We called the seller’s agent and asked if he had any suggestions. The agent laughed and said he would come right over! That was remarkable. All the other times I can remember setting off an alarm, or being unable to re-lock the door as I was leaving, the agent wasn’t answering his phone. I’ve had to explain to the police that I didn’t break in, sat on porches waiting for a friend who might be able to get the door locked, even gone to use a neighbor’s phone in pre-cell phone days.

On this day we waited and, sure enough, the agent came. The dog licked his face in greeting. The housekeeper and the boy came down the stairs and we saw the house. It wasn’t the house for our buyer.


This entry was posted in Humor. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: