Chances are, you’ve been to an open house. Perhaps you were casually looking for a new home. Perhaps you were just being an inquisitive neighbor. All are allowed and we welcome everyone. Well, almost everyone. I have been holding homes open in San Carlos for nearly 20 years. Whenever you put a sign out in front of a house, asking the general public to come into your home, well, you get the general public coming into your home. Most who come are very respectful, nice folks. However, over the years there have been some crazy stories.
Armed and Ready!
I once sold a home in Devonshire Canyon for a gentleman who was getting ready to relocate. One of the questions I have to ask all of my sellers is whether there are any firearms in the house. He answered that he did not have any. Fast forward to the first open house. It was busy. People were waiting on the front porch when I arrived just before 1:00 pm. By 1:05, there were probably 20 people in the house. I was downstairs in the great room area and out of the corner my eye I saw a man walking down the stairs holding a shotgun and giving it a firm pump. “Bro, there’s a loaded shotgun sitting just inside the master bedroom closet. Do you want it?” At this point there is an awkward silence throughout the open house and one family bolted for the front door. He walks over and hands me the loaded gun. We had to shut down the open house until the owner came back to retrieve the weapon.
Belch and Run
About ten years ago I was selling a home on the 900 block of Orange. That particular block always has busy open houses. Not only do you get the normal open house crowd, but there is overflow from Burton Park which is less than a block away. The market was incredibly competitive at the time. Every property was a multiple offer situation. Buyers were frustrated, and understandably so. One such frustrated buyer stood in the doorway of the front door. He did not acknowledge my “Hello, thanks for coming.” His eyes simply scanned the living room and he muttered something to himself about the pricing being outrageous in San Carlos. He then entered the house, walked up to me and about 18 inches from my face, let out one of the largest belches I have ever heard. He turned around and walked out.
The busiest open house I ever had was a small home on the 900 Block of Rosewood, close to downtown San Carlos. Those that really know San Carlos real estate, know that the 900 Block of Rosewood is one of the top 5 blocks in all of San Carlos. At the Saturday open house, we had over 225 people. Sunday was closer to 250. At the absolute peak, at 2:00 pm, there were probably 40-50 people in the house with some waiting outside for the crowd to die down. My eye caught a little boy who was alone, standing in the middle of the kitchen. He looked distressed. I made my way over to him and asked if I could help him locate his parents. He nodded his head but wasn’t really talking or making eye contact. I turned to scan the room to see if I could find any parent who was missing a child. Then I heard a scream. As I looked back toward the little boy, he was projectile vomiting all over the kitchen. Two seconds later there was a stampede out of the house. Parents were picking up younger kids and running for the door. Within 15 seconds, the house was cleared. The parents eventually found the little boy who was throwing up. They picked him up and just walked out of the house. No apology, not even an offer to help clean it up. That wonderful duty was left for me.
When you first start out as an agent, open houses can be a bit intimidating. It is likely not your listing. You are trying to gain some experience by holding another agent’s listing open for the weekend. Naturally, some agents are worried that they won’t be as prepared as they would like for questions that may come up. The second home I ever held open as an agent was on Cordilleras, just south of Brittan. As prepared as I was regarding the facts of the house, I was woefully underprepared for dealing with the general public. The 2005 market was a good one in San Carlos. Open houses were well attended. This particular open house was busy, but not overly busy. One family came in. Husband, wife and two sons who were probably around 9 and 12. I was greeting people as they arrived at the front door. Over the next 20 minutes the activity slowed and I realized I never saw that one particular family leave. I searched the house and came to the kitchen. The mother was sitting at the kitchen table watching her two sons eating a sandwich. Odd. Really odd, but ok. I asked her if she had any questions about the house. I will never forget what she said: “Anything to drink?” The question forced a quizzical look on my face and I started to put together what had happened. She had opened the refrigerator and made a simple sandwich for her kids. I politely asked her to leave and she was confused, but did leave. When you ask for the public, you get the public.