Last week, I began pulling back the curtain on a life in real estate by sharing a few secrets and a personal story about locking myself out of a property while preparing for a showing. Well, apparently that was just the beginning because a number of my agent friends have encouraged me to continue the adventure by sharing more of our nightmarish tales.
Or should I say “tails?” Because the second most common “faux paw” is surely letting the seller’s dog (or other pet) loose during a showing or open house.
Why would any dog-loving person leave their precious four-legged friend at home for an open house or broker’s tour? The answers are many and probably made sense at the time – the seller has to work or attend a wedding or couldn’t find a dog sitter – but it really doesn’t make any substantial difference why the dogs are in the back yard. They just are. And you wish they weren’t.
As responsible agents, we post little signs all over the property and especially on the door to the outside deck or yard: Beware of Dog. Please Do Not Leave This Door Open. Please Do Not Let The Dog In the House.
So, what is it about some buyers and agents that make them really want to “bond” with any animal in a stranger’s house? I’ll never understand it, but I’ve watched it happen at least a hundred times in my real estate career.
One Tuesday in San Francisco, my real estate partner, Bethany, and I were hosting a great property on broker’s tour and had 30-40 agents stop by to check out our new listing. Everything was perfect except the eight- month old German Shepard puppy the sellers had left behind in the back yard. Of course, one of the touring agents happened to be a “dog fanatic” and felt she absolutely had to introduce herself to this huge animal and snuggle with him in the back yard.
Know any fun facts about German Shepherds? I can tell you two: They’re very smart and they love to run. I knew that. Bethany knew that. But apparently this agent/fanatic didn’t. So when she opened the deck door, this brilliant pet made a mad dash right past her, ran down the front stairs and headed for freedom.
This might be a good time to mention the sellers didn’t believe in dog collars. It may also be a good time to confess that, yes, most female real estate agents do prefer high heels when they’re working.
So, we did what you’d expect: We ran. We chased that dog until he thought it was the best game ever, running faster and faster, heading directly into one of the busiest streets in San Francisco.
If you’re lucky enough to live in our beautiful city, you know San Franciscans love their pets (and even have a no-kill policy in our shelters). Several drivers not only slammed on their brakes but stopped their cars and jumped out to help us corner this frisky puppy. Compassionate strangers created a safe circle and at that point I did what every dog owner has done since the beginning of time: I called out the dog’s name followed by “want a treat?” And it worked. I ran back to the house and, luckily, that 65-pound pup followed.
Bethany stayed behind with the helpful strangers to thank each of them personally for their help and, of course, one of them yelled at her to loudly that “all dogs in San Francisco must have a collar.” Thanks.
Back safe and sound, we closed up the broker’s tour, sat down in the living room, took a deep breath and offered up a huge prayer of thanks to the Real Estate Goddesses. It was only then that we finally looked at each other and began laughing hysterically. We looked awful, were sweating through our business suits, had makeup running down our faces and hair that looked like we’d been hanging on to the wing of a 747 during takeoff.
If you’re a fellow realtor and this hasn’t happened to you yet, here are two ways to help keep it that way:
- Explain to your sellers that it’s just not fair to their pets to leave them in their homes or yards during open houses. The constant stream of strangers passing through doesn’t just confuse them, but can torment them.
- If your sellers don’t listen, double lock the back door and tell all visitors that the dog is not a pet; it’s a special guard dog and you don’t have the magic word to keep the dog from attacking strangers. This one works every time.
By the way, I’m a huge dog lover and have been lucky enough to have some wonderful pets in my life. If you’re looking to add a sweet dog or cat to your family and you live in San Francisco, please visit the SPCA (and fall in love): www.sfspca.org