An open house is a great way for sellers to put their property on display. While the goal is to attract serious home shoppers, you can’t really predict who will show up—or what they’ll do once they walk through the door. You may get the harmless nosy neighbor who stops by to check out your remodeled kitchen (and scarf down a free cookie), or you may encounter someone a bit odder.
Since hosting falls on the shoulders of real estate professionals, we turned to them to whet our appetite for the wackiest, most puzzling open house stories out there, and they didn’t disappoint. The following tales can only be described as straight-up bizarre.
Did somebody order a pizza?
Brian Ma, a broker at New York’s Flushing Real Estate Group, has seen some strange things at open houses.
“I will never forget the family who lingered around forever at the open house where they seemed wholly disinterested in the property for over an hour—and then had a pizza delivered,” he says.
The family then went into the backyard and casually ate their pie on the patio furniture.
“After finishing, they abruptly left as if they had been waiting for the pizza the whole time,” says Ma. No word on what toppings they ordered.
The wine bandit
Any evening open house in a multimillion-dollar mansion is bound to have crowd-pleasers like wine and hors d’oeuvres. When Renee Delgado of California’s Aviara Real Estate hosted an open house in a swanky San Francisco neighborhood, she expected guests would be on their best behavior. But she thought wrong.
“The bartender asked to take a short break, and within those few minutes, I caught a neighbor putting bottles of wine in his jacket,” says Delgado.
When Delgado approached him, he said he and his wife were hosting a dinner party a couple of doors down.
“They forgot to buy the wine and didn’t feel like going back to the store,” she says. And believe it or not, she didn’t get the wine back!
“He begged me and gave me a 20,” says Delgado.
“I represented a seller who had some interesting black-and-white nude photography in the home,” says agent Deborah Ribner of New York’s Warburg Realty. One open house guest seemed very interested in a particular photograph located in the master bathroom.
“He showed up at two different open houses and stood in front of one of the photographs for at least 10 minutes each time.”
Needless to say, he didn’t buy the home or the photo.
Smells like a winner
“I once had a buyer that would smell every air-conditioning unit in each open house we visited,” says broker Jason Haber of Warburg Realty. “She would enter each apartment, walk up to the AC and sniff. If she didn’t like the scent, nothing else mattered and she would leave the apartment.”
We weren’t exactly surprised to hear that the buyer looked for two and a half years before finding an apartment to her liking.
Call in the dogs
Dogs are part of the family, but that doesn’t mean they need to be part of the decision-making process.
“One couple brought their two 30-pound dogs to an open house I hosted,” says Stacy Mafera, a real estate professional at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Boston area. They insisted on carrying the dogs through the home and spending a lot of time in each room—all while the dogs barked nonstop.
The couple did end up buying the home, though, so the dogs clearly approved of the layout.
At one of Delgado’s other open houses in a sunny California suburb, a particularly presumptuous family walked in and decided to take advantage of the amenities.
“I was speaking to other visitors when I saw all five kids take off their clothes, revealing bathing suits underneath,” says Delgado. Then the kids jumped into the pool.
“Luckily one of the guests at the open house was a police officer and told them if they didn’t leave immediately they would face repercussions,” she says.
“I had several open houses at a stunning property,” says Bruce Ailion, real estate agent and attorney at Atlanta’s Re/Max Town and Country. “One woman came in every week and spent two to three hours there claiming she was feeling the home’s spirit and soul.”
Keep in mind that she wasn’t shopping for a home and was seen visiting a number of open houses a weekend and doing the same thing.