Creepy tales from working in real estate

Since Halloween is just around the corner, I asked a handful of Sacramento area real estate agents to share their creepiest or scariest real estate moments. There are surely stories like these with mostly any job, but definitely in real estate where entering the homes of strangers happens every day.

Which stories stand out to you? Share your own story in the comments below.

Rob McQuade Realtor“A Closet Encounter of the First Kind”
by Rob McQuade 

My most memorable scary moment in real estate comes from my previous company (and several of us love to recount this tale regularly). As an office we were previewing one agent’s listing a bit of a distance outside of town. As a group we walked through the empty downstairs area and then began making our way upstairs. I was holding up the rear when suddenly there was a loud scream from the front of the group and one agent came running out of a bedroom, back towards us, down the stairs, and out the front door. Everyone at the front panicked and several people turned and ran, not knowing what might be coming at them. Those of us in the back were startled but were trying to figure out what was going on so proceeded cautiously up the stairs and into the bedroom from which the agent ran. As I walked in, I saw it: a big sliding closet door was partially open and inside the closet standing stiffly and peering glassy-eyed into the room and straight at me was a mannequin that the owner had apparently left behind. Needless to say we suggested that the seller remove it from the home, and to this day we still tease the agent who screamed and ran.

Whitney A. Johnson“Squatter Surprise”
by Whitney A. Johnson 

Oh I have stories! The creepiest is the time we went in to do a scope on an REO for possible purchase. We had our friend Jeff with us to “clear” the house like we have done 100 times before. There were two other female agents with me and we were standing in the front living room gabbing away as he did a walk through. I suddenly hear from the back, “Girls!! GET OUT!!!” I don’t think I have ever ran so fast in my life!  We ran across the street and jumped in the car. He appeared a few minutes later with a homeless man on a bike. He rode off with no other issues, but man did it scare the crap out of me!!

Estella Drake“Flea Attack”
by Estella Drake

My client and I left a home that had so many fleas we both had to jump out of the car and pick them off each other. I’m talking about the attack of the killer fleas!!!

Keith Klassen - Realtor“The Scream of a Talking Teenager”
by Keith Klassen

I went to show a client a property, which stated, “Call owner for showing. If owner does not answer, leave message, go and show.” I followed the instruction and left a message when the owner did not answer. The client and I had seen a handful of properties that afternoon. This was the last property on our list as the sun had gone down and it started getting dark out. When we got to the property I retrieved the key from the lock box, and prior to unlocking the door I rang the door bell and knocked on the door, as I always do (even if it says “vacant”). I waited five seconds and knocked loudly on the door again. With no answer, I proceeded to unlock and open the door. As I opened the door I called out, “Hello… Realtor!” Once the door was fully opened I saw a teenage girl sitting at the top of the stairs talking on her cell phone. I quickly apologized for catching her off guard …, before I could say another word the young girl let out a blood curdling scream. Not knowing what else to do, I immediately backed out, shut the door, and locked it. My client and I just looked at each other and said, “Wow!” While that was strange and a little freaky, what was worse, I got a call from the owner (the teenager’s mom), about ten minutes later screaming at me, cussing me out, threatening a law suit, reporting to the DRE and Better Business Bureau …. saying that I barged in on her family! I tried to get a word in edge wise to explain the situation, apologizing for the misunderstanding, but this lady was so irate and disturbed, that I had to finally just say, “I’m sorry for this bad experience, have a good evening,” and I hung up. I’m just not sure what I could have done differently? This experience still haunts me each time I go to open a door to show a house.

Steve Ostrom & Heather Ostrom“A Twilight-Inspired Man-Scream”
by Steve & Heather Ostrom

Steve’s story (with flairs of Heather drama): Two-story home in Rocklin. I was previewing for buyer at dusk (as in ‘Twilight’ dusk). The short sale home was stated on MLS as vacant. There were still personal items from the seller on the property, but no electricity. As usual, I announced “REALTOR” as I unlocked the door and entered with my usual caution. When I went upstairs, I entered (I’m guessing) the daughter’s room and saw someone standing there… I quickly screamed, “friend or foe” or maybe it was a profanity? (okay we’re kidding about the friend or foe part but it sounds much more amusing, doesn’t it?). But needless to say, a man-scream was heard across Rocklin until I realized it was a life-sized, cardboard cut-out of Taylor Lautner that was in the dark. Please note: no ninja kicks were used to destroy the cardboard cut-out. To this day, when I see images of Taylor, I shiver remembering that scary night.

Erin Stumpf - Realtor“Callers Who Want to Talk Dirty”
by Erin Stumpf

The creepiest part of working in real estate for me is occasionally getting calls or text messages from people who find me online who clearly have no intention in buying or selling real estate, and who instead want to talk dirty. Ugh!! That’s just a part of being in a profession where much of my contact information is essentially public – email, telephone, etc. Thankfully those contacts are pretty infrequent and I can pretty easily screen them.

Patrick Hake Realtor“A Bear-Hunting Owner with a Shotgun”
by Patrick Hake

I was once given a referral for a listing appointment, and I called and scheduled the appointment with the owner and then headed down to meet them. When I came to the front door it had a steel gate and a sign out front that said “Never Mind the Dog, Beware of Owner”. The owner came to the door and let me in. He seemed nice but slightly off. The whole house was dark and messy when I entered. The blinds were only slightly opened and the lighting was very dim. There was clutter strewn about the home. The seller directed me to the living/dining area where he had me pull up a chair. In the corner of the room was a person sleeping on chair, wrapped in blankets. In another corner was a gun shelf with some ammo sitting on it and a rifle leaned against it. I tried to pretend like the scene was not unnerving me, but it was. I was by myself, in a strange home, with armed weapons and weird people. After settling in, I proceeded to ask the seller a list of questions, including why he was looking to sell and where he was planning to go. He then proceeded to tell me that he wanted to sell because he had recently had a dispute with some people who lived down the street. They had been dealing drugs on the corner near his home. He threatened to shoot them if they didn’t stop, and they had threatened to burn his house down. He also explained that he wanted to move off the grid in Alaska to a cabin bordering on government land, so he could hunt bears. He then proceeded to pull out something he had printed from the internet. It was a picture of a bear mauling victim. It was extremely gory and very disturbing. From that point, I did all I could to wrap the appointment up as soon as possible, without being rude or agitating the guy. I then got in my truck and got out of there as soon as possible.

Appraiser Bonus: My creepiest moments as an appraiser definitely involve inspecting boarded-up homes in blighted neighborhoods. While inspecting a house like this a couple of years ago, I made the following video tour (see below or here).

NOTE: In no way does this post seek to minimize the reality of danger in the real estate industry, and awful things that have actually happened to real estate professionals. Everyone, please be safe and wise, use the buddy system, trust your instincts and get safety training.

If you have any questions or Sacramento home appraisal or property tax appeal needs, let’s connect by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email (or RSS) or “like” my page on Facebook


  1. says

    Oh my gosh Rob’s story is sOoOOoo funny! I love it. Sadly, we can relate to many of the other (truly) scary and frightening stories. It’s traumatizing to get caught in awkward situations, you are relying on the good of people, and often you’re just obeying orders set-forth in the MLS agent instructions, but still can catch heat even as a goodie-two-shoes. Most of the time great stuff, but sometimes some seriously scary stuff in the wild world of real estate.

    • says

      His story is really funny (as is yours). It’s so important to use wisdom in any business, but especially real estate where entering the homes of strangers is commonplace. There really are some sad endings out there, so we need to keep our guard up. It’s good to laugh at the funny moments though.

  2. Brian McMartin says

    Wow – these are all great stories – I think I would need therapy if I had Keith’s experience. One showing sticks out of my mind; I was showing a home to some clients; I followed the instructions in the mls – called first and then went to go show. I rang the doorbell and knocked on the door and announced myself as a Realtor as I entered the home. All was going well during the showing and then as I started to open one of the bedroom doors – an ederly woman who had been asleep was startled by the door opening and screamed. Freaked out I quickly apologized and turned around to leave and my client was no longer behind me. Turns out when the woman screamed my client just ditched me and ran out out of the house. This shook me up for years to come and to this day when showing homes I announce “Realtor” very loud when entering a home.

    • says

      Brian, that would freak me out too. I’m not surprised your clients bailed out or to hear you announce yourself loudly now. It’s amazing how things like that shape up. Thanks for sharing your story.

      While I haven’t had any screamers, the REO market really shaped how I announce myself. With so many vacant homes in 2008 and 2009, and me working in some “challenging” areas at times, I go overboard when announcing myself. I say something like, “Appraiser here. I’m here to take some photos. Is anyone here? If someone is here, just let me know and I’ll leave.” I sound so cautious, but I just don’t want to meet squatters.

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