surprised man holding his glasses on his forehead looking and laptop

5 Real Estate Horror Stories And How To Handle Them

Carey Chesney4 minute-read
October 08, 2021


As Halloween quickly approaches, social media is rife with imagery of our favorite horror movie villains: from Ghostface to Jason to Michael Meyers, spooky tales have long since dominated the minds of many – especially in the fall.

With the air becoming crisper and the nights growing longer, in the spirit of the season we’re going to explore some real-life real estate horror stories and what you can learn from these particularly spooky situations.

These tales are straight from the agents’ mouths, with full names omitted to protect the innocent. Read on to learn more ways that you can gracefully tackle real estate adversity, even in the face of some scream-worthy situations.

It’s Coming From Inside The House: Experiences With Unexpected Guests

The Secret Napper

MARK C. — “My clients and I walked into a house for a showing, and it appeared someone was still in the house. Protocol dictates that the client should not be in the home for a variety of reasons during the showing, but my client immediately said to me, ‘I feel like someone is here.’ I assured them that the owners knew they should not be home for the showing and we proceeded.

“As we made our way to the bedroom, I noticed what appeared to be someone hiding under the sheets in their bed. I knew it wasn’t a bunch of pillows because I saw a toe sticking out of the covers. I quickly redirected my clients to another room and while we were in there, I saw the owner sneak out the back door. Surprise encounter averted. Huge sigh of relief.”

TAKEAWAYS – Always be aware who has access to the home you’ll be showing – though you may reach an agreement or understanding, something as innocent as forgetting a personal item or a simple lapse in memory could result in an awkward or even spooky showing.

It’s also best practice to walk behind your clients during a showing to avoid being taken by surprise, or in this instance, so that you can quickly usher your clients out of the room before giving them a fright.

They’re Here: Experiences With Alarming Situations

A Loud Entrance

MACY J. – “I went to show a house and forgot to ask if there was an alarm. There was! It was so piercing my client ran out screaming and was super mad. Then the listing agent wanted me to run back in to turn it off while he walked me through the instructions. I had him on speaker phone, so he felt my pain, and we had to yell over it. I eventually gathered myself and got it turned off so my client could see the house.”

TAKEAWAYS – While a security system can certainly help give you some peace of mind when viewing or showing a home, it’s best to be familiar with how it works and the features it has.

Does the alarm notify the authorities? Who knows the system and has access to the home? Can the password be easily changed? Answers to these questions are valuable and can save you a lot of headaches.

When The Police Got Involved

ROBERT A. – “I had a showing recently where the agent didn’t tell me there was an alarm…and when it went off, the cops showed up. I had to calmly explain that we were not trying to rob the house, we were trying to buy it!”

TAKEAWAYS – If you’re ever caught in a situation like this, it’s best to be prepared. Always keep your real estate license or REALTOR® ID on your person should you ever have to show identification, whether it’s to the police or even just to some concerned neighbors.

It can also be smart to get a decal or badge identifying your business on your vehicle – not only will it advertise your business, but it further proves that you’re a serious real estate agent.

We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes: Rough Days In Real Estate

The Fender Bender

CASEY K. – “I showed up to a showing and pulled into the driveway. My client had gotten there early, and I realized I was parking her car in, so I backed up to park on the street. Shortly thereafter, I impaled the side of my car on a fire hydrant. The sound of metal crunching as I struggled to get it free was horrific. I managed to get the car loose, jump out of the door, gather myself and stand in front of the gash in the side of my vehicle to block it from view, as I smiled and waved to my client. I was a bit shaken for the rest of the showing, but my client was none the wiser and it didn’t put a damper on showing her the home.”

TAKEAWAYS – Cars and parking are a big part of real estate safety that frequently goes overlooked. Parking in front of the property, not in the driveway, is an easy solution to avoid blocking in your client while still having easy access to your vehicle in case of an emergency.

A Happy Accident

TODD B. – “I pride myself on being organized and on top of my game, but a few years ago when I was a new agent unfamiliar with the area, I showed up at the wrong house for a showing. I toured the whole home alone, waiting for my clients and feeling so good that I would be fully prepared when they arrived.

“Obviously, they didn’t show, and I was more than a little late for the showing at the right house. I calmly apologized and then told them all about the house I’d seen, which they eventually set up a different showing for!”

TAKEAWAYS – Having a good understanding of where you’re headed and being familiar with a property prior to a showing can be immensely helpful when it comes to your personal safety and giving your clients an efficient home tour. You should also be sure to securely lock up when you’re done for the day and ensure that no one can wander in without your knowledge.

The Bottom Line

The role of a real estate agent has its ups and downs, but the key to success is adaptation. Just like the protagonists in your favorite spooky flicks, remaining calm and communicating effectively are great tools that will help you come out on top. 

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    Carey Chesney

    Carey Chesney brings a wealth of real estate sales and marketing experience to his buyers and sellers as they navigate highly competitive markets. Carey and his wife Ilze work together as Realtors® in Michigan.