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10 Strangest Questions Buyers Have Ever Asked About a House

By Daniel Bortz | May 17, 2017


DNY59/iStock; shironosov/iStock

Long before home buyers decide a certain place must be theirs, it

behooves them to ask a lot of questions. For example: "How's the

neighborhood?" or "How old is that water heater, anyway?" Ask

away! Such queries help you pare down your options, so don't be

bashful; real estate agents have heard them all.

However, the adage "There's no such thing as a stupid question"

isn't always true. As proof, just check out this list of the strangest

questions real estate agents have ever heard about a house. Cue

the “Twilight Zone” music—things are about to get very, very


1. 'How do you keep alligators from coming up into the toilet?'

Michael Lyons, a real estate broker with Lyons Realty Group in

Hollywood, FL, has certainly heard his share of concerns about

alligators lurking in yards, ponds, and swimming pools. But

sneaking into the house? Through a toilet? That left him stumped.

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"I couldn't answer that question seriously," he said. "So I made up

some weird solution. I told them, 'pour vinegar down the toilet

once a month, they hate it.'"

This seemed to appease the buyers, who ended up purchasing the

house. No word on whether or not the vinegar trick worked.

2. 'Do any swingers live in the neighborhood?'

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While home buyers often have questions about the neighbors,

this one was a first for Kate Julian, a real estate agent with City

Chic Real Estate, in Washington, DC.

"They said they were swingers and that's something they were

looking for," she said.

Unsure what to say, she countered with, "drive around the

neighborhood and see." After all, aren't swingers very friendly?

3. 'Does the car in the driveway come with the house?'

Chike Uzoka, a real estate agent with Weichert in Newark, NJ, has

heard of buyers asking whether many things "come with the

house," from chandeliers and furniture to appliances and pool

equipment. But a car?

The only way he could answer such a question was with sarcasm:

“If the attorney doesn't catch it in attorney review, then yes it


4. 'Is anyone buried in the backyard?'

Larry Prigal, a real estate agent with Re/Max in Gaithersburg, MD,

had no reason to believe the house he was selling had any corpses

stashed 6 feet under. "So I joked, 'I’m not aware of anyone buried

here, but you can dig it up after you’ve settled on the property.'”

Who knows? Maybe the buyers were worried about our next


5. 'Are there any ghosts in the house?'

When Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 in

Indianapolis, holds open houses at older homes, it's not

uncommon to hear creaks or creepy noises. That prompts a

superstitious few to pop the ghost question.

"I usually respond jokingly at first that there are ghosts but that

they're friendly, but then immediately follow with ‘just kidding,’

because people can be really weird about those things,” Dossman

said. "Cellars and basements can be especially freaky, even to


Nonetheless, a haunted house is, in fact, a selling point for some

home buyers. Go figure.

6. 'I really like this house, but I need to pray about it. Is that OK?'

Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Sea

Coast Advantage, in Wilmington, NC, said she gets this question

(or some variation of it) a fair amount, so she wasn’t alarmed, at


“I thought the would-be buyer would go home and pray about it

and then decide, so I said 'sure.'" That's when things got weird.

"All of the sudden she drops to her knees and starts flailing her

arms and yelling at the top of her lungs: ‘Dear Jesus, please send

me a sign, Jesus, a sign that I should buy this house!’ Meanwhile, I

slowly started inching toward the door planning a hasty escape. I

ended up waiting outside on the curb for her to come out for

about 15 minutes. When she came out, she was cool, composed,

and had her answer: no."

7. 'Do you think the homeowner would give me the house without

a down payment?'

Taken aback, Julie McDonough, a real estate agent with AmeriSell,

in Southern California, told the buyer, "I can't imagine they


The buyer went on to explain that he'd taken a seminar on how to

get the seller to deed the buyer the property without any credit or


"So I asked him, ‘How is that going? Has anyone deeded you a

property yet?’" McDonough recalled. "He said, ‘No, but it's a

numbers game.’"

8. 'Can I come back at midnight to see how the moon here affects

my soul?'

The question threw Pate Stevens for a loop, but then he figured

there was no harm.

"Although a strange request, I drove over to the home at midnight

to let him in,” said Stevens, a real estate agent with Nourmand &

Associates, in Beverly Hills, CA.

The outcome? “He didn’t buy the house because the moon ‘didn’t

feel right’ to him.”

9. 'Why is the garage unfurnished?'

Um. "Because the sellers use it for their cars, not as a living

space," replied Benny Kang, a real estate agent with Uniti Realty,

in Irvine, CA, to which the buyer said, "Oh, you're right."

"When I heard that question, I thought, 'This is going to be a long

tour,'" Kang said.

10. 'Can we close all the blinds and doors and turn off the lights? I

just need to see the space at its darkest.'

“I was pretty sure this was the end for me," said a Brooklyn real

estate agent who was holding an open house. "After I said OK, I

stood by the front door with my hand on the doorknob.”

Fortunately, the agent, who asked not to be identified, made it

out unscathed. “[The buyer] was this eccentric guy who I later

found out was the CEO of a big startup.”

Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington,

DC, who has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine,

CNNMoney, and

How to Sell a House: 4 New Rules That Can Make or Break a Sale By Daniel Bortz | May 3, 2017 how-to-sell-your-house2 PRImageFactory/iStock; These days, knowing how to sell a house isn't as simple as sticking a "For Sale" sign on your lawn. Times have changed—and the good news is the market is largely tilting in your favor. “It’s undeniably a seller’s market," says Linda Sanderfoot, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Neenah, WI. In other words, buyers are demanding homes, but there isn't much inventory on the market nationally. Plus, half of home buyers are worried about rising interest rates and looking to lock into a home soon. As a result, “there is pressure on buyers to submit offers quickly, and to offer full or even above list price,” says Peggy Yee, supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, VA. All of this puts sellers squarely in the driver's seat—which can be a lot of pressure if your GPS is broken and you don't know how to navigate this new world. Consider this your crash course in getting up to speed. Related Articles 7 Important Things Home Sellers Often Forget to Do We Know What Home Buyers Want—and Here's How to Give It to Them Surviving a Seller's Market: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet Rule No. 1: Price it right from the outset While conventional wisdom might suggest listing your house a bit above market value so you can make a mint (or get haggled down by buyers to something reasonable), don't do it. The reason: In today's fast-paced environment, this also puts you at risk of your home sitting on the market, which can make it more difficult to sell. "If your house is still for sale after a month, buyers are going to assume something’s wrong with it,” says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA. Moreover, “today’s buyers are savvy,” Yee adds. “They know if a house is overpriced.” So list it right at market price, which your agent will help you determine. If anything, listing it a bit below market price could also work in your favor by sparking a bidding war which could drive the price up higher than you'd ever hoped. Rule No. 2: Amp up your marketing While professional photographs are a must, many sellers are going a step further these days. For example, you might consider doing a video tour, which entails hiring a videographer to walk through your home, camera in tow. The footage is then edited, background music is added, and the video is posted online. “It gives buyers the sense that they’re walking through the house without even stepping foot inside,” says Lejeune. It may even enable you to sell your home "sight unseen"—which is actually how one in five buyers does it these days! Social media is another smart component to leverage. Spread the word that your home is for sale by posting your listing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Create a post saying: “We’re excited to put our house on the market. Please get in touch if you’d like to schedule a showing. Pass along!” Be sure to include a link to the listing so that buyers can see more. And, of course, make sure your real estate agent is spreading the word on social media as well. Rule No. 3: Splurge on staging “Presentation is everything,” says Sanderfoot. And these days, that means hiring a professional home stager, someone who arranges your furnishings in a way that entices buyers to bite. The payoff can be substantial. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than nonstaged ones. Staging is particularly important if you've moved out, because bare rooms can look empty and sad. Unfortunately, staging costs can add up. Most home stagers charge $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per room. If you can't afford to stage the entire house, at least make sure the living room and kitchen are professionally furnished, because they’re the most important rooms to home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2015 Profile of Home Staging survey. Need an even cheaper option? Try pop- up staging ("fake" cardboard furniture that looks real) or virtual staging (digitally altered listing photos). But use these only as last resorts—real is better. Rule No. 4: Devise a plan for how to handle multiple offers With how tight inventory is today, there’s a good chance you’ll receive multiple offers. Trust us, this is a good problem to have! Still, if you're blindsided, it can be stressful. To ease that pressure, create a plan for how you’d respond if you receive multiple bids. For starters, there’s no hard and fast rule on how you should act. “The decision depends on what’s important to you,” says Yee. For example, some sellers are just looking to accept the best offer they receive and move out fast. Others, however, might be interested in learning how to spark a bidding war to drive up their home's price. That said, “sometimes the highest offer is not always the best offer,” says Sanderfoot, adding that you need to consider each offer's full terms, including contingencies, closing window, and the buyer's financing. By determining exactly what's important to you in advance, you’ll be able to make an easier decision if you get a deluge of offers (hey, in today's market, it can happen). Also looking to buy a house? The rules have changed there, too. Study up with our article "How to Buy a House: 5 Rules That Can Make Or Break Your Offer." Price: 450.000
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