Friday, May 29, 2009

Words to Avoid in Real Estate

This post in UnReal Estate was inspired by a recent conversation with an agent who told me that the house on the hill above was slipping, “but only a little.” I live in earthquake territory, folks. There’s no such thing as “slipping a little.” That’s like being “partially pregnant.” Thus, I asked around and gathered some contributions to the Words to Avoid list. Please enjoy:
First, the Absurd…
“Oh, heck, we all grew up with black mold.” (Is that why your eyes roll inward and your tongue hangs out?)
“They had a pot-bellied pig that ruined the carpet.” (I had a pot-bellied husband that ruined the couch.)
“The old lady next door is crazy but nice.” (So I should ignore the face in the window?)
“The place was busted because the owner’s father had a brewery in the basement.” (No problem – my grandmother had a meth lab in the bathroom.)
“The heating lamp in the bathroom needs attention.” (No wonder your hair is on fire.)
“This was used as a grow house.” (No wonder I have the munchies.)
“The four dogs next door seldom ever bark.” (Then I will “seldom” ever use my tranquilizer darts.)
“The lights flicker and dim sometimes, but it’s nothing to worry about.” (Sell that to the guys on Death Row.)
“It may be showing some wear and tear, but it’s obviously not going anywhere.” (That’s what they said about the Titanic.)
And now, the Sublime…
“A little baking soda will get rid of the smell.” (But will it get rid of their bad taste?)
“The lime in the crawl space is to absorb moisture.” (So what’s with the hatchet and the duct tape?)
“The odor was from something that got trapped in the crawl space.” (Has anyone found the agent?)
“Although it’s filthy, they never had vermin.” (Oh yeah…that explains the 14 morbidly obese cats.)
“The house isn’t bolted, but it’s very secure.” (No problem -The buyer is with Indymac - they’re very secure.)
“His score is low…but he’s working on it.” (My patience is low…so get outta my face.)
“That’s a pine cone in the pool.” (And I suppose that’s lemonade in the toilet.)
“The cracks in the foundation are small.” (So is our offer.)
“You should see the garden when it’s lit.” (You should see my uncle when he’s lit…)
“Can I still get zero per cent financing?” (Let me explain the signs of mercury poisoning and its effects on the brain…)
“The soggy area above the septic tank is from the sprinklers” (You’re full of crap.)
“All those steps will keep you in shape.” (So why are you carrying that defibrillator?)
“The pool leaks.” (So does Aunt Bea when she sneezes.)
“The lawn sprinklers don’t work.” (Then call Aunt Bea.)

And Those Words We Hear Most Often:
“Can you reduce the size of your commission?” (About as easily as I can reduce the size of my butt.)
“It’s been sitting for months with no activity!” (So has Aunt Bea, but she doesn’t complain.)
“I think we’re backing out of escrow.” (Fine. Now grab this frayed wire and touch your tongue to this metal pole and…)

Thanks to my colleagues at Sotheby’s International Realty and my friends at Coldwell Banker and Keller Williams for all your funny stories. First posted on Agent Genius on 05/29/2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Recently I have heard some hilarious tales of wild animal capers at open house events. Many of these anecdotes come from my agent friends in Lake Arrowhead. And you thought YOU had problems...
Easy Rider
I'm told there are bear travel routes at Lake Arrowhead. I'm not sure if there are biker bars for the critters to hang out and knock back brewskis, but the routes are detours created by the animals themselves as they cruise around the mountains. As a result, there are many bear sightings in the area.
An agent I know was with a client when they parked at the cabin she had just listed. As they approached the porch, they glanced at the pickup truck parked in the driveway and were delighted to see a baby bear asleep in the flatbed.
They observed the little guy for a short time, ooh-ing and ah-ing and discussing whom to call. Duh. Suddenly the answer came to the form of a shadow the size of the Statue of Liberty. Paralyzed with fear, they tried not to move a muscle. Finally, when the words "main course" permeated their individual skulls, they turned on cue and walked slo-o-o-ly to the front porch. They managed to get inside without losing any limbs, but not before the frantic client had wet her pants. After the bears eventually left, the hapless women departed. The agent was shaking uncontrollably, and the client had to sit on a towel all the way home.
(Moral of the story: Ya' know how you just want to pick up a little bear and cuddle it? Well Mama Bear wants to cuddle you, too...and then crack your head open, rip out your eyeballs with claws the size of hedge clippers, and then suck the meat off your skinny little flailing legs...accompanied by a fine Pinot Noir of course. So avoid even baby bears, fool!)
Bears Need To Relax, Too
One agent had seen bears in the area of his listing and had dutifully informed his clients. While preparing for Brokers Open, he set a bag of dog food on the back porch in his efforts to tidy the kitchen. Halfway through caravan, there was pandemonium in the back forty. When he and several agents ran outside to investigate the chaos, they saw the dog food scattered everywhere.
As the agent stooped to retrieve the bag, he looked across the yard. To his shock, a brown bear was splashing lazily in the spa right under the hand-crafted "Don't Piss In Pool " sign. The group high-tailed it inside, barricaded the doors, and armed themselves with whatever they could grab. The agent had to scream out the window at any latecomers, warning them to get outta Dodge, while everyone already there remained holed up in the house until animal control arrived.
When Animal Control finally burst in, they admonished the agent for a lapse in judgement, but only after they had a good laugh. It seems that one guy was brandishing a fireplace poker as a weapon, and the listing agent was armed with a lovely umbrella. The agent was very embarrassed, but the worst insult was the floater left in the spa by the annoyed bear.
(Moral of the story: If you are on a bear route, never place Dog Food outside unless the bears on your route are Harvard grads and can read the words "Dog Food," and "Don't Piss in Pool." Less educated bears may think the sign says "After enjoying the bear bidet...please help yourself to the squealing agents huddled inside and screaming like girly-men.")

Let's Not Forget the Raccoons
This story was enough to make me stop serving food outside. An agent had set up a lovely luncheon at a house near the lake. Out of nowhere, there was a blur of action on the hillside. A raccoon scampered down the hill, a barking dog with a beer belly close at it's heals. The raccoon ran around the trash bins and then took shelter in a tight space behind the pool equipment. The determined dog apparently had gone to a Tony Robbins seminar and did not know the meaning of giving up. He did everything possible to get the raccoon to expose himself (so to speak). However, the wily raccoon, while less educated, had street smarts and was waiting for his posse to show up and ice the dog.
Enter the agent. Upset by the ear-splitting chaos, the agent grabbed a utensil and a metal dish and created a cacophony of noise, hoping to scare off the intruders. It worked. Sort of. The raccoon screeched, tore out of his hiding place, and for a split second in time, he stared down the source of the mind-numbing noise. Finally he headed for elevation...the luncheon table being the nearest high spot. The portly dog was too fat to jump onto the table, so he tried to claw his way up the table cloth. The agent, frantically banging her bowl, watched helplessly as inch by inch the entire spread headed south in slow motion. The food explosion was followed immediately by the sound of the table collapsing. The last she saw of the quiche-covered dog or the crazed raccoon was a departing blur back up the hillside. She gave up and threw the bowl in disgust before collapsing in tears.
(Moral to the Story: If you're going to Bang a Gong, know your audience, Wang Chung!)

And This One is For The Birds
Picture a lovely summer day in California. French doors were open wide, flowers were in bloom, and the agent was preparing for the first Public Open House. Suddenly a Blue Jay flew into the living room and became disoriented. Confused and frazzled, the feathered intruder attempted to fly out via the skylights. After being thwarted in its numerous attempts to escape, the bird landed on a beam to rest. The agent, also confused and frazzled, decided to deal with the party crasher after the open house was over.
Enter the public. As the agent showed the house and gave her pitch, a menacing kid turned on a screeching musical toy that set off the downfall of society. The bird, already confused and excited, began to circle overhead frantically seeking an exit. As the voices of the startled group melded into a chorus of screams, the bird responded back in crapping all over the well-appointed living room. The more the visitors screamed, the more the bird emptied the contents of his well-stocked bowels. By the time the agent managed to herd everyone out, the seller's furniture was upholstered in cottage cheese. The bird remained for several hours more, no doubt taking photos and texting his friends.
(Moral of the Story: If a bird crashes your party, call the wily raccoon to chase the feathered interloper outside. Then call the dog in as an enforcer to offer the raccoon a deal he can't refuse. Then hire the bear to scare the beejeesus out of the wiseguy dog. Then call animal control to drag the bear away after he uses your spa as a bidet, but before he gets out his dining utensils and slaps you onto a plate. After that, call all the agents who called you "fool" and invite them to a party in the spa...and leave the floater.)
And a Short One For the Road
Did you hear about the German Shepherd who knocked down the agent's tent sign and relieved himself all over it as the caravan was arriving? I actually witnessed the performance...and the two curtain calls.
(Moral of the Story: It seems everyone is a critic. Go do the same thing in his bowl - that will teach him to be a bit less judgmental next time.)
Thank you, Lake Arrowhead!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Back By "Poopular" Demand - More Agent Bloopers

It's Un-Real Estate, folks...and just when you thought you heard ‘em all -
How About These Marketing Strategies!
Kids Play Rum (And agent apparently drinks it.)
Main house and carnage house. ( Bugsy Siegel must have lived there.)
Home Made Hiney rolls served (Do I get Wipes with that?)
Two minutes to Strip (Can you buy me dinner first?)
Club foot tub (Getting those special shoes on the tub must have been a killer.)
Sheik contemporary (A modern house in Dubai?)
New pole in back yard for outdoor fun (Must be the Bunny Ranch.)
Bring your fuzziest clients (Including your hairy mother.)
Special tanks to those who donate. (Wouldn't an AK-47 suffice?)
Beautiful Sanitarium for Sunny mornings. (Electro-shock anyone?)
Major stone coming to the neighborhood. (Ouch, that will be hard to pass.)
Newer constriction. (Try a colonic.)
Own a piece of heathen. (Ah...the Bunny Ranch again...)
House rises above the street. (The David Copperfield Estate.)
New cemen driveway ( I'll bet it's near the Bunny Ranch)
More Kinky and Quirky:
Private Studo above garage. (How convenient - give him my number!)
Large dick for entertaining (Hmmm, does this belong to Studo?)
Dog runs on one side (Maybe he only has 2 legs)
Built in stereo and TB (Is this the house with the sanitarium?)
Bogus room downstairs (Can I submit a bogus offer?)
Room for bunker beds (Archie and Edith lived here.)
Seasonal creep runs alongside the road (Is his name, Studo?)
Stoned patio. (Someone Bogarted that joint.)
Statutes in garden (Was this a law library?)
Owen doesn't work. (Kick his butt to the curb... Then call Studo.)
EZ access for mountn sports (An elevator to Studo's pad above the garage?)
Rede Twice, Use Spell Czech, and Lern Englesh
"Dance andf art studio" (For classically trained farters)
Disclosure: Pet ceminary nearby. (For pets going into the ministry.)
New lightening in pool area (That's a killer deal!)
Submit with FUCO scores. (Because this is a FUCO house?)
Proof of funs needed (Isn't the pole out back proof enough?)
Low interest rats (Vermin that are bored easily)
Seller is a crapenter (He obviously does sh-y work!)
Rod in bedroom goes with seller, so please don't ask. (Don't flatter yourself, Studo!)
Diamond in the Ruff (Well, pump the poor dog's stomach!)
Bar-B-Q Pet in Back Yard (Apparently Ruff didn't survive.)
Looking for Hot Buyers (Ugly folks need not apply.)
Big yard with "squirls and Rabies." (Sellers frothing at the mouth to make a deal?)
Comes with dick and dingy (Sean Penn and Jessica Simpson?)
Drawing for Special Prixe (You ain't that special, Studo.)
And This Week's Favorite:
Hind End Recessed Lights (Designed for the place "where the sun don't shine")

Thanks again to the MLS, the LA Times, the New York Times, and LA Magazine for your unwitting contributions. First posted on Agent Genius 05/15/2009

Friday, May 8, 2009


I have collected so many hilarious stories from my colleagues about open house debacles that I have titled this post, "Ham on Wry: It's NOT a Good Idea To..." If you recognize yourself in any of these tales from the trenches, my advice is to plead the Fifth :
It's Not a Good Idea To:
...To ignore the dead parakeet in the cage (Unless you killed him - then play dumb and whistle a lot.)
...To decorate the serving plates with an unidentified shiny leaf from the hillside. (Unless you are serving Calamine dip and Benedryl punch.)
...To set the hand made lace tablecloth ablaze with your Crème Brulee butane torch, and then pour the Chianti on the fire to extinguish it. (Unless you can beat it the hell out of Dodge before the owner arrives home with a can of fava beans and a fork.)
...To serve spaghetti at your open house where the carpets are new...and white...and the owner is a Red Bull addicted L.A. Agent with a bad attitude. (Unless Dr. Kervorkian just wasn't available to assist you in your time of need.)
...To serve a Stilton cheese tray on a warm California day (Unless you're expecting a swarm of podiatrists who are accustomed to the smell of foot fungus.)
...To forget about the tree house until the moans from above interfere with your sales pitch. (Unless it's here in Laurel Canyon - the canyon of "Piece and Love." Uh, I mean "Peace and Love.")
...To disclose that there is a crazy woman next the crazy woman next door. (Unless you want to be ground into pate and thrown into a cement mixer that's in the driveway...of the crazy lady next door.)
...To put the space heater on the table near the fish bowl. (Unless you advertised a Fish Fry.)
...To allow the old lady with flatulence to wander through your open house firing gas rockets in every room. (Unless you can blame it on the Stilton cheese.)
It's Also Not a Good Idea To:
...To set up your open house food table on the lawn...without checking the timer on the sprinklers. (Unless you are planning on serving your famous flaming Crème Brulee, in which case it may be a good idea.)
...To set up the luncheon table near the compost pile in the garden out back. (Unless your food already tastes like s__t.)
...To whisper with compassion that the sellers are "splitting up" the unsuspecting mother-in-law. (Especially if she is the crazy lady from next door)
...To use the seller's vodka laced ice cubes in the punch. (Oh wait; maybe that's a good idea!)
...To ignore the boisterous voices and sounds of clinking ice cubes and "GO, BILLY" coming from the bar in the basement while you're upstairs schmoozing. (Especially if it is in the house where the ice cubes are laced with vodka...and there's a tree house out back.)
...To set the cat box (with the cat in it) outside on the patio table...above where the dog hangs out. (Unless you don't mind the complete mayhem when the frothing dog jumps on the table, toppling the cat box, wherein the cage breaks open releasing the screaming cat, after which the hapless cat scampers up the tree and jumps onto the new canvas awning... and ends the SRO performance by puking a giant hairball.)
...To try to ignore the answering machine while the endless "I hate you, bitch," message is being recorded for all to enjoy. (Unless ripping the plug from the wall is something you cannot do nonchalantly while disposing of the dead parakeet and trying to wrangle a puking cat.)
...To assume the sound of the shower is just someone testing the water pressure. (Unless you got the homeless guy pre-approved before he wandered in.)
...To forget to insist that the seller remove the urine samples from the refrigerator. (Unless you want revenge on Billy and the other drunks down in the basement...or on the crazy lady next door who is now peering in the window.)
And It's REALLY Not a Good Idea To:
... To allow the seller to put ol' Sparky, the excitable German Shepherd, in the RV in the sloping driveway with the keys inside. (Unless Sparky is planning on taking the dead parakeet, Billy, crazy lady, puking cat, the sex fiends, and the homeless guy with him on his unexpected tour of Highland Park. Go, Sparky!)
...To use the lovely can from the shelf as a door stop for your open house.(Unless you are POSITIVE the dog is riding shotgun with his buddy, Sparky...and is NOT in the lovely can.)
... To set off the fire alarm by burning the quiches, then drag out a chair, grab the broom, swipe at the alarm overhead, tumble moon-over-Miami off the chair onto the couch with your skirt up around your waist like an inner tube, and then meet the prospective (and shocked) buyer with a cheeky, x-rated "Butt Greet." (Unless...unless...oh, forget it - there is no "unless." I can tell you from experience that it sucks!)

First posted on Agent Genius 05.08.2009

Friday, May 1, 2009


Disasters in Un-Real Estate: (For the public as well as agents - you'll all enjoy these stories)
Have you ever had anything go awry at an Open House? C’mon – tell the truth – I can’t be the only one who has made some memorable blunders. I’ve decided to share some of the more bizarre stories I’ve heard just so we can all feel a bit less foolish about our own mistakes…unless you recognize yourself below. In that case, I can’t help you, pal…
A Rubber Nose Would Have Sufficed
Did you hear about the realtor in Hancock Park who hired a clown? It might have been a good idea if the clown hadn’t been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day before his spectacular arrival, which involved parking his clown car on the curb and victimizing a street lamp. After crawling out of the pile of shrapnel, his first stunt was to sing “I’m a Little Tea Pot” while peeing all over the bushes. The poor kids were scared out of their Crocs when, after christening the bushes, the singing tippler fell head first into the ammonia-fragrant foliage. Prospective buyers and their agents continued to arrive as the clown tried to re-attach his rainbow wig and rubber nose. Suddenly the listing agent appeared from the side yard, dragging a rubber hose with her and hell-bent for revenge. To the kids’ delight, she hosed the clown until he ran away, leaving his pathetic car shrinking on the curb in a pile of shame. (Moral of the story: Always keep a hose available in case someone whips theirs out.)
Crimes and Crackpots
A colleague of mine arrived at an open house right about the same time the listing agent was arriving. They walked through the house together and then stopped in their tracks when they spotted yellow Police Crime Scene tape roping off the door to the bedroom. Backing out as fast as they could, they exited through the back door. To their horror, they discovered a chalk outline of a person at the bottom of the drained pool. While the agent frantically tried to reach the seller on her cell phone, they heard laughter from the side yard. As they rounded the corner of the house, they came upon the seller’s fourteen year-old-son and his friend, who were snapping photos and laughing hysterically at their devious prank. (Moral of the Story: It’s a good idea to arrive early to remove all signs of death at your Open House. Homicide is not a big seller.)
Short Takes:
“Your Neighborho Specialist Invites You to a Holiday Open House.” (Yay - even ho's have holiday spirit!)
“Open House - Easter Egg Hunt, Drinks and Ham Salad Sandwiches served. House located just East of Beth Israel Temple.” (Moral: Know your neighborhood… or call your "Neighborho" Specialist.)
Fertilize and Amortize
One clever agent decided to offer pony rides for the kids during his Memorial Day open house in Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, the pony had the trots (in every way imaginable) and fertilized the lawn with gusto. Several hours later, the seller returned to discover a lawn that looked like an explosion in Hershey, Pennsylvania. (Moral of the Story: Keep Pepto Bismol on hand for all occasions. And get the phone number of the agent with the hose. )
Short Takes:
1) The open house where the balloon guy and the agent were talking to prospective buyers with helium-induced, munchkin voices.
2) The open house where, when the agent arrived, he discovered a naked guy in the kitchen chugging a brewski. (Moral: It could have been worse: The naked guy could have been singing “I’m a Little Teapot” in a munchkin voice and wearing a rainbow wig while peeing into his brewski, and the agent and the balloon guy could have been naked…juggling Easter eggs while riding a dyspeptic pony. Hey, this is Los Angeles - we’ve seen it all! )

Always Check the Beds
A friend told me about an open house she was giving where she arrived to discover a blow-up doll in the teenager’s bed. She struggled to shove it under the bed, but the recalcitrant limbs kept popping back out. She couldn’t think of where to put it so it would go unnoticed. Finally she dragged the doll to the front porch, placed it in a lawn chair, and then piled an afghan and the listing sheets onto the doll’s lap. The doll slowly deflated in the hot sun, so by the time the open house ended, it looked like grandma had expired on the porch. Nonetheless, the Open House visitors loved it, and they all wanted to know who the “agent” on the porch was. (Moral of the story: Carry sharp pins wherever you go, or at least a referral agreement in case Grandma claims Procuring Cause.)
Short Take
The pregnant agent who hung pale yellow balloons all over the porch for her open house. When they deflated, they looked like condoms. (Moral: Condoms Do Not Always Prevent Pregnancy)
So Who’s the Dip Here Anyway?
At one Open House an agent served homemade salmon dip, which was always a favorite with her guests. As expected, the visitors scooped it up with crackers, enjoying the flavor. Out of curiosity, one agent asked what the ingredient was that was so chewy. My friend, somewhat perplexed, tasted the dip, and indeed it seemed “chewy.” A bit baffled, she shrugged it off and continued with the business at hand. She returned home that evening and was cleaning the blender she had used for prep when her jaw dropped open. There in the bottom of the kitchen sink was half of a rubber spatula. (Moral of the story: Chewy salmon dip and pony excrement have a lot in common: they both stink, and neither belongs at an open house!)
Good luck out there!