Main Content

Need A Good Laugh? Here Are Some Crazy Open House Stories

Can you imagine walking into an open house at noon, only to see a nude dude swimming in the pool? Valerie Fitzgerald and Bob Hurwitz drop hilarious stories involving crazy open houses. There’s that one time when Bob meets a person claiming to be a relative of the President of China. When showing verification of funds, she had 5 billion in an account in Hong Kong! It’s not often you meet people like these in general business. If you want to hear more mind-numbing stories, this episode’s for you. Tune in!

Listen to the podcast here

Need A Good Laugh? Here Are Some Crazy Open House Stories

We’re thrilled that you do turn in all over the world every week to read our blog. Bob and I try to have some great, interesting people and stories and we have some fun doing it. Something I give to a lot of my clients is a fly gun. I had a fly in my office and I’m sitting there trying to nail it. It shoots salt out and kill the fly without splattering it. I went there to show the property once and the owner was running around the house with a fly gun chasing a fly. I go, “You got to get out.” I got to show him. That’s the fun thing about this show is that there are so many funny and crazy things. We’re boots on the ground and these things really happen. The experiences and calls that we have, the crazy stories that we hear and experience, that’s what’s fun about this is to share them with people that never could possibly understand what happens in our world behind the curtain day in and day out. I’m constantly telling people that ask me about something on the TV show and I go, “That’s fake. Here’s the real stuff.” Again, because of our show, our clients and friends read it as well as the general public. People will hit me up. A lot of my clients are celebrities and people are like, “You got to tell the story about so-and-so.” I go, “I can’t do that one.” It is pretty amazing. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there thinking, “Valerie and I are going to be talking.” I’ll think back and be like, “That might be an interesting thing,” as long as we have been dealing with the type of people that we have. I’m sure a lot of our audience around the world are interested about real estate. Given what’s going on in the crazy world now and interest rates are starting to move, the inventory is still so unbelievably tight. It’s like a quarter of what it was in 2021, which was low even then. It’s wild. I spent 2 or 3 hours a day calling people looking for pockets. The rest of my time is trying to get sellers to take a crazy offer. An offer that can make you go, “I can’t believe we’ve got this offer and you’re not even caring about it.” Did you experience the same thing? I’m experiencing that now. I won’t go into the details, but it’s the same type of situation. It is bizarre because everybody’s waiting for the bottom to drop or whatever. Ever since COVID hit, the whole thing has been bizarre and now it’s clear. As you said, on the high-end, there’s limited inventory. A lot of my agents work in the $1.5 million to $3 million range. That’s like 20, 25 offers with no contingencies, all cash. My last four have had not less than twenty offers. The biggest one was 34 offers. One went $1.7 million over the asking, the other one went $2 million. We’re talking about a $3.5 million price range. Those houses and fixers are going at $5.5 million. There’s something crazy about that. There are a lot of people with money. There’s a lot of money out there. The days of, “Can I have a look? Can I do inspections? Can I have a contingency? I want to get a loan,” are gone. You cannot have any of those contingencies anymore. It makes it difficult for people that aren’t experienced buyers that want the protection of what am I buying because you and I both know, just because something looks great on the surface, there can be all kinds of problems that could be major. These people don’t have a chance to inspect. That’s problematic for sure. Now, that we have open houses back, there are some funny stories and things that happened. I told you one time that I had this showing. I had this young guy and it was right next to The Bird Streets. He was square, but the listing agent didn’t know that. The listing agent thought he was looking in The Bird Streets and he’s single. He must be like Mr. Uber Cool. When we got there, he had four girls in these skimpy little bikinis. One girl had little things over her boobs, striding around the pool, lounging on the side of the pool and pretending they didn’t notice we were there. This would be their afternoon by the pool.
RERL 17 | Crazy Open Houses

Crazy Open Houses: Everybody’s been waiting for the bottom to drop ever since COVID hit.

  Was this a Sunday open? No, this was a second private showing. The listing agent, who was also a single guy who thought that he was going to be super cool and pull out all the stops to get them, my guy really excited and focused that this is the life he would have if he owned this house, but this guy wasn’t like that. He was looking at us like it was an assault. He kept looking around. I kept going, “Let’s go this way over here. The view is nice this way.” That’s interesting because you never know what someone’s mindset is and how it could affect potentially making or breaking a deal. You assume that maybe somebody will find this music interesting or that vibe good and it may turn somebody totally off. To my mind, it’s always about being as neutral as possible, whether it’d be the seller or whatever. Even political things like paintings and stuff. I’ve had people, “You should take that down because I may dig it and you dig it, but the person coming in may cost you a big sale.” As far as open houses, it’s funny because I don’t think you and I hold Sunday opens anymore. Although if somebody wants it open, I’m happy to have a couple of my agents there because I think people should be walked through and qualify people at the door. It’s funny because one of my good friends now, I met him at an open house at a property in Malibu. Me and this client of mine from the East Coast who sold his company for $50 million, we went in there and the guy was swimming nude in the pool. His assistant was in the main house. It was the most hilarious thing of all time. My client was laughing, but ultimately, the agent and me, we bought houses together. We’re good friends, but it was hilarious. He’s so off the wall but why would you be swimming nude taking a break in an open house? It’s bizarre. I guess he was hot and had to put his clothes back on or something, but they see the craziest things. I’ve seen people’s animals in the pool. I’m like, “You got to get the dog out of the pool.” In the house I was selling up in Bradbury, there were bears in the pond because it was an $8.5 million trout pond that the guy fly fish out of. Bears would be in the pond catching fish. The assistant had a shotgun that would shoot beanbags to get rid of them for a showing. One time I was driving my convertible 550SL through this gated community, and all of a sudden, pops out of the bushes running alongside me is a bear. It scared the hell out of me because I got the top-down. We see some good stuff. I was showing a house about a few months ago. It’s in a gated community here. I could never get into the guest house. It was a nice guest house and a beautiful house. I kept going to the guest house. Finally, I got into the guests because I went around. It was a two-story guesthouse. I went in below. I thought, “Maybe the doors are locked.” I found the door unlocked. I go in there and I found out why I could never get into the guest house. This was the girlfriend that was there living in the guest house as a renter. Was the husband and wife, both of them at the main house? Yes, they’re living in the main house. That’s interesting and forward-thinking. That’s weird. One of the things that’s interesting because dealing with a lot of overseas buyers like we do, they have different ways that often they do things. I’ll never forget I was showing this one property. It was a $70 million property and this person was introduced as being related to the President of China. A lot of foreign buyers don’t have verification of funds or whatever.
The developers are going in with their hard money loan, but they’re competing with the family that needs a house with two or three kids.
If the agent knows them or whatever, then that’s cool. This person wanted to show verification of funds after we were already almost through the house. I can see she was real, but she insisted on showing verification of funds. On her phoned, her translator or assistant pulled up this account, which had $180 million in it, which was enough to buy the house. I was like, “That’s fine.” She was all upset because that was the account that was shown. She was like, “No, no.” She scrolled through the phone and pulled up an account with $5 billion-plus in an account in Hong Kong. The other agent and I looked at each other and he goes, “Is that dollars?” and she goes, “Yes,” and started laughing. It’s bizarre. Most people don’t ever interact with people like that, generally in the business, but it is mind-numbing how much money some people have. It’s surprising. There was a Chinese buyer who had reached out to me. I did some verification of funds. It’s a $5 million sale. He sent me this Bitcoin account. I had to look up Bitcoin and figure out what the play was on how much money was in the account and that stuff. That was unique. We’re going to see a lot more of that type of situation with a cryptocurrency. A bunch of money they have now, may not be so much money then or it can skyrocket too. There are a bunch of young people that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars from cryptocurrency who got in it early on and way ahead of us. We never heard of it. I know one 25-year-old guy who is at least worth $200 million. He lives in New York all off Bitcoin. He never worked anything. I think he was a box boy or something. Therefore, the wealth. There are so many different sources of wealth that we’re saying. It used to be predictable. “If the stock market’s doing well, then that’s what’s driving the market.” For the entertainment business, do you ever hear anyone say anymore, “They’re the head of a studio?” No. I’m curious and I want to ask you this because you’re dealing with a lot of multiple offer situations. When there are 20 or 30 offers on something, how are they presenting? What they do is they drop the lowest ones, so they don’t even counter them. How are you actually presenting? Are you sending it in? You can’t present. You can only send it in. I usually write a little letter so they’ll know something about the buyer too, but to hopefully stand out a little bit, but no, it’s brutal. It’s interesting. I remember once I presented an offer with the most offers I’ve ever seen on something. It was when John Douglas was around and he had his office. There were 36 offers on this property in Santa Monica. We presented in person, one after the other, in the conference room. They ended up going with my client. When I’m doing multiple offers, I’d always put in something that I figured somebody else wouldn’t besides going up in price, but they’ll pay for the escrow. There is something just to make it stand out a little bit. Ultimately, they went with my guy because the assumption was because I was CEO of the company and I represent all these. My guy turned out he had bankruptcies and stuff so he couldn’t qualify and the deal blew. That property did not sell for another year.
RERL 17 | Crazy Open Houses

Crazy Open Houses: There are a bunch of young people that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars from cryptocurrency.

  I find that’s a phenomenon. I wonder if you agree with this or do you have a different take. A lot of times, when there are multiple offers, the person who gets the property blows out because they recognized, “I paid this much because I was bidding at someone. It’s not worth it when I analyze it objectively.” They’ll then blow it. The next person goes, “Wait a minute. What happened to that person?” Maybe it’s different now, but they’re going so high at over asking, but are you seeing that phenomenon? With the last six offers I’ve made, we didn’t make any of them. One of them, the first guy, blew out. They said, “We’re not countering you because we have over the asking and it’s all cash.” It’s a twenty-day close and I said, “We can’t compete with that.” He then said, but we have a backup that is more than yours. We were 30 days with a loan, but it wasn’t a contingency. He goes, “Both of those blew out.” We tried to come back and we still didn’t get the property. I had another one up here in Beverly Hills on Coldwater and the same thing happened. They had twelve offers. The house was no bueno. All these houses are fixers that I’m talking about. At $3.5 million, they’re fixers and going way over the asking price, like $1 million or more. We got it because we were fools and went over the asking price by $1.2 million. The house is in such bad shape that we ended up canceling. They had someone in the back of us, but that was crazy. I had three others back-to-back with another buyer and we lost all three of those too. This is a phenomenon that occurred that started a few years ago. If it’s multiple counters, it’s got to be resigned by the seller, but they at least counter you with a number and then they came up with this best and final, where you’re negotiating against yourself, which I hate. Everybody hates it. You have to guess what price. It’s absurd and unprofessional, but anyway, it’s what happening now in a lot of these deals. How are you your person, where the house is $3.5 million and you’re saying, “What are you saying? Is it like $5 million?” How does that work? We always write the asking or we write to $200,000 or $300,000 over the asking. It’s an automatic thing now. How crazy is that? It’s negotiating up, but there’s no negotiating down at all on any property. It goes to the point where, “How much can you afford?” This one buyer is getting a loan, but it’s not a contingency. “How much can you afford for your down payment?” The other guys said, “Cash.” They’re going into quick closes. The interesting thing is though, there’s a new thing that they’re proposing at the beginning of January. It’s a law that any developers that buy and flip within three years will have to pay another 25% in tax because what they’re trying to do is separate it so that the investors are not competing with the owner, user or buyer because most of those buyers can’t compete with them, so they’re out of the market. They then have to go lease. Therefore, the lease prices are now doubled because those people have nowhere to live. It has been this chain reaction, but it’s a different time. It’s interesting what you said about people used to think of a head of a studio or whatever. People always want us to prognosticate as to what is going to happen. I get interviewed about that a lot. People go, “Interest rates are going to go up,” but that doesn’t even affect our market that we’re dealing with. I’d say 9 out of 10 of my deals are cash. They may ultimately get a loan and it won’t be contingent on the loan, but maybe they want to write it off or whatever. It’s a weird phenomenon that’s going on now with all of these multiple offers on super high-end because if you’re buying something for $3 million, $4 million, $5 million or $10 million, you’re going to have some heavy payments or else how did you get all your cash? It’s hard money loans. The developers are going in with their hard money loan, so they’ve got all cash. They play it out for a year. It’s a whole different way, but it’s competing with the family that needs a house with 2 or 3 kids. They’re competing and beating them out in most cases.
When the inventory loads up prices, people start to sell their houses for less.
First of all, the whole thing with this off-market stuff, I know you’re on the same thing that I’m on where supposedly the top agent networks get all these things that are off-market. “I’m looking for this, that, and the other.” We mentioned this before and you may have done deals. To me, my mailbox is flooded. I now filter it out into the junk file because there are too many of them. It’s like another MLS for off-market stuff. I don’t understand. I’m curious what is the benefit that you’ve seen? I made a deal on an off-market. Did you send something out saying, “I’m looking for so-and-so?” No, I saw something that came up in that network. I called them and got my buyer in their first on the first day. We made a full-price offer, all cash, twenty-day close and we got it. I was like, “Look at what we have to go through?” I’d probably 50% of the deals are pockets, off-market. A lot of my deals are pockets as well because they’re unusual properties or whatever. Some sellers only want you to do that. I always tell sellers, “If you want to do that, let’s do it for a little bit. Let’s see if I can reach out proactively and get somebody, but if not get on the market. We don’t want somebody else that is on the market.” It’s almost like being on the market somehow has a stigma like it’s crap, which is ridiculous. You couldn’t sell your house, so you had to put it on the market. It’s dumb. You then have competing things. You have this new top agent network, PLS, which is a private listing server or whatever and then the MLS. I say, “If you’re going to do that staggering, go off-market first, then do something else. Eventually, put it on the real market.” I had one property sell at auction, which was insane what it was sold for. In this market, that’s insane. It was ridiculous. I could have gotten millions more. I told the seller do not do this. It’s a no-reserve auction. I cited exact examples of previous clients of mine that wanted to do that. I try to talk them out of it. One person didn’t do it. I had an $8.5 million offer for that person in Florida. It sold for $2.5 million and they went for an auction. This person did the same thing and he’s not a stupid guy. I said, “Do not do that.” He ended up selling it for millions less than it was probably worth, but it’s weird. Why now in the market is pretty crazy hot to do that? Why do you think it’s so insane now? It’s always driven by inventory, so when the inventory loads up, people start to sell their houses for less. It then starts to grow the inventory and prices will come down. If the inventory is bleak and limited, there’s not much to choose from. Everyone’s got the fear of missing out and not getting something, so they push themselves. I was on an interesting call and the people on the call were saying that if they have to sell their house 3 to 5 years from now, they will not get what they paid for it because they pushed so far. It seems like such an artificial type of explosion of values. It’s pretty insane.
RERL 17 | Crazy Open Houses

Crazy Open Houses: It’s good if you have credibility representing people with money.

  You don’t need comps anymore. “Let me explain to you why you should pay for this.” You don’t need that anymore because you got to use them. Here’s the thing. If someone is getting a loan in a traditional market, it doesn’t matter how much someone’s willing to pay because it’s still going to be contingent on the property appraising and them getting their loan to value ratio. Whereas the cash buyer can pay whatever. That situation seems to not be the same because prices are inflating so fast and they’re so high with sales that are very recent, so they’re used as comps, but it is interesting. You don’t know what’s going to happen down the road. If there are no contingencies, you don’t get a loan or appraisal anymore. That’s what I’m saying. You’re not getting those anyway. It’s a bizarre market. It is bizarre and it’s pretty good. Do you do like it this way? No, I hate it. It takes all the talent out of getting a deal for your clients. You’re going to see people flooding out of the business. In the ’80s, I came to the West Side and I worked in a 100-person office where you rented space because I was broken already and you got to pay a desk fee. It was $1,000 a month. There was a bunch of people there. If the market’s good, people like to do that because then they’re getting their full commission, but then as soon as the market isn’t great, they’re not making money and they flood out to a conventional office. The market’s great and they’re still not making money right now because there are not enough houses to sell. What’s going to happen is it makes everybody a successful agent, assuming you want to be in this rat race, but the truth is it doesn’t require any skill. There’s no negotiating involved basically. To me, that’s the thing that’s important in a regular market where things are real. You have an opportunity as an agent who is skilled in negotiating and understanding the market to negotiate a good price for your buyer or when you represent a seller. You’re in a position where you can try and get top dollar by marketing effectively and understanding how to negotiate. Now, it’s just a race. Who wins? Whoever has the person that has no contingencies and they’re willing to pay anything. It’s good for a while, but that’s not going to last. What’s going to make the inventory grow? The interesting thing is that a lot of Baby Boomers refi’d all their houses. If you have a quarter of the market and they are Baby Boomers and refi’d their payments are so low that for the next several years, they don’t need to sell or to move. That’s locked it up tight in terms of that. In several years from now, you’ll see a big flood into the market because those Baby Boomers can’t refi. They won’t qualify to refi and they’ll end up selling. You see all these things and how it reflects. You could see how they set up the way the market is. Throughout our careers, there have been certain outside elements that had affected the market when interest rates were 18% and various other things. I always find that it’s mostly driven psychologically, especially the upper-end. If you analyze objectively, it’s a mistake. When the market is superhot, and prices are inflated, people are rushing out to buy. When it started, they go, “Maybe I shouldn’t buy.” Why buy when the market’s super high and then you’re stuck selling when it’s low? People should be objective, but it is crazy. I cannot understand what’s going on. It’s those kinds of nuts. I understand it. I have to have to dig in and be a part of it because you didn’t have the choice.
Understand the market to negotiate a reasonable price for your buyer.
It is smart because now it does make sense to look for off-market properties. If they can jump in there fast like you did, which is smart. I have clients right now that are looking for things. The guy that I said was swimming nude at the open house, I called him because I was showing something out in Malibu. I said, “What do you get that’s off-market? I got this buyer that should go anywhere from $10 million to $30 million.” He goes, “I got a couple of things.” They are not on the market. Nobody’s even going to hear about it, so that’s an advantage. That’s why it is good if you truthfully have credibility as representing people with money and you can call on people directly and go, “What do you got?” I’m all old school about that. I’ll call and say, “Valerie, what do you have? I got this person.” That transcends the normal thing of sending out blind emails or whatever. I sit on the phone every day for 2 or 3 hours calling agents. Calling all the different markets I’m looking for. I usually get 1 or 2 good things coming up. It’s the same thing people do to me. They’ll call me or text me. You got to dig and look. If you’re just looking at the MLS, Zillow or whatever, forget it at this point. It’s an unusual paradigm now. It’s going to change, but now you got to operate with what we have. It is what it is. Bob, I always love doing this with you. I love our show. It’s fun because we get to talk about the real stuff. I love the people that are reading and downloading. We’ve had 20,000 downloads, which has been great, from all over the world. People are interested as long as we keep our stories going and information flowing. We got some good people. Again, the stories never end. We can delve into our own memories and come up with other things that have occurred, but it’s great. People love it. I get hit up all the time asking about this and that. It helps to tweak our memories basically, so we pull things up, but our guests are great. The audience is great. We just keep rocking. Readers, you’ve been amazing to tune in every week to join us, read our stories, and share some real estate laughs. We’ll see you soon. Valerie, take care. Have a great one. Audience, see you guys. Ciao.
Skip to content