In the Trenches: Walking the Foreclosure Beat

In the Trenches captures the odd and funny incidents that invariably happen in real estate. Here are the stories submitted this month from real estate professionals all over the country.

March 1, 2008

In the Shadows

I was a real estate agent in New Jersey for 12.5 years specializing in marketing foreclosed properties for banks, before I started working for the MLS. A foreclosed property is a dark, lonely, and often forbidding place. There is no furniture, no power, and often a great deal of debris.

Late one afternoon as the sun was going down, I was touring a home. The home was older and unusual with lots of little rooms, hallways, and a number of stairways. I was walking down one particularly dark set of stairs, and as I turned right at the bottom, I shrieked at the top of my lungs!

My heart came to a standstill and I jumped away as far as I could — keep in mind, I am a 200-pound man, used to being in empty houses by myself, so that’s not a very common sound for me to make. But I was more scared than I had ever been in my life.

Hesitantly, I took another glance to come face-to-face with what other person or creature was in the dark hallway with me.

A full length floor mirror rested on the wall at the bottom of the stairs. The person I had been so terrified to encounter? Myself!

— John Hicks, director of MLS Outreach and New Product Development, CVR MLS, Richmond, Va.

Locked Out

I was called by a repossession company to list a home in the Dry Fork Canyon area, a beautiful mountainous area in Utah. I was anxious for the listing and went to the area to locate the home.

But, being a rural community, there weren’t any addresses on the houses. So after a little effort, I finally found the house and called to have the house re-keyed.

I had gotten the wrong house. The house I re-keyed was a house where the owners were merely away for the summer.

So I had to locate the owners in another city and mail them their new keys. Ironically, that family later listed their home with me — after all, I had the keys already!

— Shar Benson, broker/owner, CRS®, GRI, Roosevelt, Utah

Out the Window

In the 1970's, there was a group of investors who I would load up in the van about once a month and then we’d spend the day touring low-priced foreclosed homes. At the end of the day, each would give me his list and I would prepare the offers to purchase.

But on one such day, the last property we visited was missing the key in the lockbox. In those days it wasn't uncommon for an agent to remove a key and keep it if their buyer showed interest in a property.

Since foreclosures are vacant homes, I looked for an alternative entry and found the window on the front porch unlocked. So we all climbed in and toured the house, which seemed to be under renovation.

I was the last to exit, only to meet a football-player sized man as I climbed out the window. He did not look amused either.

Apparently he had purchased his mother's property out of foreclosure, and he didn’t understand why real estate practitioners were climbing out his window.

— Lana McDaniel, Realty Executives Classic, Shawnee, Kan.