In The Trenches: Running on Empty

A collection of stories from real estate professionals detailing crazy, funny, or poignant experiences that have happened on the job.

I was new to the real estate business, and money was tight, so I borrowed my husband’s car to drive two new clients around. However, he forgot to mention that the fuel gauge was broken. While it looked like the gas tank was full, after a few showings, the car started to die in the middle of a busy street.

Luckily, I was able to pull over to the shoulder before the car went completely kaput. I was mortified and frantically began calling for a tow truck. I also asked a colleague to retrieve us and bring us back to my clients’ car. I tried to keep the moment light by making a joke about having to call in my “emergency limo service.”

My clients were great sports. We finished up the day with them driving me around. Months later, after I helped them close on a home, they wrote a letter to my broker about how much they appreciated that I took the time to work with them as first-time buyers on a strict budget. They also referred one of their relatives to me, who was looking for a higher-end home. By then, I had a new car with a working fuel gauge. —Carol Moson, CRS, SRES, RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, Marietta, Ga.

A Garden-Variety Mistake

I had just signed a listing agreement with a seller whose front yard needed some sprucing up. The seller asked me for a recommendation, so I gave her the number for a landscaper who had done work for some of my other listings.

My client called the landscaper to arrange a visit, and after a quick drive-by, the landscaper called back with her proposal. My seller seemed pleased with the plan. The work took a day to complete, but when I called my client to check in, she said the landscaping hadn’t been done. Confused, I ran over to my client’s house to see what she was talking about. Once I got there, I realized the landscaper had worked on the wrong yard; she must have heard the address incorrectly, because she took care of the neighbor’s house two doors down! Boy, was that owner thrilled with the surprise yard work; the landscaper, however, not so much. She had to eat the cost of her mistake. —Jenny Robinson, ABR, GRI, Weichert, REALTORS®, Home Pros, Clarksville, Tenn.

Basement Resident

I was showing a 100-year-old house to a buyer I had never met before. We were in the basement, and I was holding a large flashlight for him as he read the maintenance stickers on the old furnace. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a coiled-up orange-ish thing on the floor that looked suspiciously like a snake. My heart skipped a beat, but I decided it was a child’s rubber snake.

Just as I was congratulating myself for not letting out a blood-curdling scream in front of my new client, the thing uncoiled and slithered further across the basement. I couldn’t keep my cool. “Snake!!!” I shrieked. I tore up the stairs and the buyer calmly followed a few minutes later, telling me it was a harmless milk snake and that I shouldn’t be surprised to see them in an old house with a stone foundation. That was the last time I saw my new client. He never called again, and I’ve never gotten past this fear. I’ve yet to return to the basement of a house with a stone foundation. —Karen Rice, AHWD, Davis R. Chant, REALTORS®, Hawley, Pa.