Real estate column: How not to prepare your home for a showing

Friday , April 21, 2017 - 5:00 AM

JEN KIRCHHOEFER, Real estate columnist

Throughout my career in real estate, I have walked into some very interesting scenes. You do this long enough and you think you have seen it all.

Turns out, I haven’t.

In this line of work, there is potential to see the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m not quite sure which category this particular experience fits into, but it wasn’t the good one for certain. I’m thinking of establishing a new category just for this specific incident alone.

Most decent listings in this market are not lasting much longer than three or four days before they go under contract. This particular listing had been posted for 15 days at the time my client asked to see it.

I did note that the price per square foot was unusually high for the year built, square footage and area; but with only a few exterior pictures, it was difficult to judge whether the home warranted anything near the asking price.

Maybe there was something secretly spectacular about this home that mere photographs just couldn’t portray. Or perhaps it was simply overpriced. Either way, my client was interested.

When I called the listing agent to make an appointment for the following evening, he informed me that he was having a difficult time showing the home because the tenants who were currently renting it were not comfortable allowing the home to be shown without them being present. Plus they had three dogs, a cat and, as we later learned, some additional surreptitious critters of which they did not want escaping.

This was the first clear clue that the additional days on the market issue was not due to the stunning interior renovations. My client, however, was still interested in seeing the home, so I told the agent we would be willing to work around the renter’s schedule. We were able to get an appointment for the next evening.

As we approached the home, we both noted that the pictures didn’t exactly tell the whole story. Besides the abundance of bright yellow flowers that would soon turn to seed and rapidly multiply into more bright yellow flowers in the yard, as well as the peeling tiles on the roof and the copious amounts of doggie doo-doo on the grass, it was exactly like the pictures.

With our expectations peaked, we entered the home. I could say it was at the invitation of the renter; however, he didn’t exactly invite us in. He simply opened the door and stepped aside — kind of.

Let’s just say it wasn’t the warmest of welcomes.

Although we couldn’t quite decipher what the original color of the carpet was, we decided to forge through. Carpet and paint can be changed; the layout was good for my client.

We went upstairs to check out the bedrooms. As every bedroom door was shut, we knocked before entering the first. No one responded, so we entered.

I’m not quite sure how to verbalize exactly what we beheld as we entered, but I’ll just say there was some photographic displays that were more than somewhat “inappropriate” to put it mildly. I was so glad my client hadn’t brought any of his kids for this viewing.

As we ventured carefully into all of the other bedrooms, we were thankfully less enlightened. I did have to avoid the freshly deposited cat excrement in one of the rooms, but we safely made it through.

Our venture downstairs was no less informative. After we noted the amateur repairs to the ceiling and wall, we were invited to “come on in” by a couple of teens lying in bed and toting on skunk weed.

We figured we would take the opportunity to ask questions about the recent “repair,” and they generously responded that the mice had eaten holes in the refrigerator line in the kitchen, and it had slowly seeped down through the ceiling and wall until it caved right in on top of them.

This particular memory seemed to provide more entertainment for them than a slinky.

As my client and I parted ways, I took the opportunity to call the listing agent and provide some unsolicited advice; i.e. have the owner do a walk-thru, recommend removal of drug paraphernalia and wall pornography, properly repair water damage, replace carpet, roof, paint, lawn, appliances, counters, reduce price and/or evict the renters. The feeling was mutual.

Either way, this is one for the books.

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor with Ascent Real Estate. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or

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