The Most Interesting Animal Stories In Real Estate With Georgina Jacobson

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The Most Interesting Animal Stories In Real Estate With Georgina Jacobson

Believe it or not, real estate is not only about dealing with property owners but also encountering their animals. In every transaction you will be working on, expect several animal stories to make you smile. Georgina Jacobson joins Valerie Fitzgerald and Bob Hurwitz to talk about her fair share of interesting and crazy animal encounters. They talk about owners getting bitten by their own pets, baby sharks swimming in the middle of a living room, endangered species on the wall, and many more. They also go over some of their client's most unusual and demanding requests, as well as how far from reality the depiction of real estate is on television.


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The Most Interesting Animal Stories In Real Estate With Georgina Jacobson

We're so happy you're here with us. We have a fabulous guest on our show, Georgina Jacobson. I have known Georgina for years. Not only is she beautiful inside and out but she's also a hugely successful agent in the areas of Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and Irvine. She has many landmark sales and listings. Welcome, Georgina.

Thank you so much for having me, Valerie. It's nice to be here.

Georgina, welcome to the show. The whole theme of the show is behind the curtain of real estate. There's no BS, just stories of what happened and what goes into it. We pull back the curtain or, in some cases, pull back the covers and see what's underneath there in the bed. Don't be afraid to hold back because we want to know it all.

I was reflecting on this and I have been in so many interesting situations over my career. One that came to mind was a beautiful listing. It's $5 million, it's all in a golf course and it's spectacular. The owner says, “Would you mind feeding my cat while I go to Hawaii for ten days?” I'm like, “All I do is drive around town. I'm happy to once a day, stop in, check on the cat and make sure everything is fine.”

I get to the house and the cat stays in a very large laundry room. It's very spacious. I opened the door and the cat is standing on the counter by the door hissing at me and batting the door closed. I'm like, “This is going to take a little longer than I thought. I need some reinforcements.” I called my sisters. I have a bunch of sisters but two live close by and said, “Can you please come over and help me assess the situation?” They're like, “Why do you need our help? This is so funny. We'll be right there.”

They come over, open the door and the same thing happens. We all burst out laughing and I'm like, “I have to feed this cat.” One of them gets some rubber gloves from the kitchen and one has a blanket. It's a three-person operation. We open the door, I throw the blanket over the cat, my sister gets the litter and the other one gets the food. We do this for ten days. The owner comes home and says, “How did it go?” I said, “Everything went great. The house is perfect.” We even showed it. I was showing the house at that time.

The owner says, “Let me put the cat in the laundry room for the showing.” She picks up the cat and the cat is looking at me in the eyes. We don't have a good relationship, me and the cat. The cat bites the owner, flies off her shoulder and runs away. The owner is crying. She ends up getting stitches in the emergency room. It was the most stressful situation I have been in in a long time. It was one of those things. You can't make this stuff up.

We're responsible for their animals and they go on vacation. You think you're going to do someone a favor. You're lucky the cat didn't run out the door.

Ten days I thought would be a quick go in, go out, check on the cat and feed the cat. It turned into a funny situation. I have one other and it's also an animal story, which I don't know why these came to mind. I have a brand new listing we're launching. It's so hot. I'm doing an open house. I'm so excited. I get there early and there are people waiting. I have ten people standing outside on the street waiting for that open house and I can hardly wait.

The owner was also out of town and they said to call them afterward and we will go over everything. I'm like, “That's perfect.” I love when they're not there because it's a little bit easier to access. I'm walking up to the front door and they have two German Shepherds. These German Shepherds are barking, jumping on the door and going nuts. I'm like, “I thought the pets were not going to be here.”

It turns out the son was staying at the property and he wasn't home. I have to get in the house, past the guard dogs, turn off the alarm, put the dogs out and be ready for the open house. I'm smiling and so excited because it's going to sell that day because it's such a hot property but these dogs. I'm trying to be nice. I open the door and the alarm goes off. It goes off meaning you would have to turn it off but I can't get all the way to the keypad to turn off the alarm because these dogs are going nuts.

I'm trying to smile and do all this. I finally get to the keypad, which is way across the room, put in the code but it doesn't go off and I can hear an alarm coming. They sent the police, a fire truck and everybody. I'm like, “My gosh.” Do you know what's great? At the end of the day, we sold the house at the open house. Everyone was so generous and thought that it was funny but it was so stressful because I'm either going to get a dog bite, a ticket or something because they get fined every time somebody comes to the door. It was one of those days where you can't make this stuff up.

RERL 9 Georgina Jacobson | Animal Stories

Animal Stories: 95% of what agents do is not real estate. It's dealing with clients, handling issues, and trying to get through crazy situations they find themselves in.

You can't control animals either. I have one story. It's not funny though. I wanted to relate it. I was responsible for the death of one of my client's dogs during a showing. It ran down the street and got hit. You can't control what's going on. I'm surprised the person lets you maintain the listing after they came back with a cat that had been abused by you.

I can tell you one. I had a seller and they had this dog. The dog was sweet and was always there in showings. It was fine and didn't bother anybody. When we got the offer, went through the inspections and went to sell the house, they said, “We're leaving the dog.” I go, “What do you mean you're leaving the dog?” They said, “The dog was raised in this house. The dog is attached to this house. The dog has to go with the house. It has to stay with the house.” I'm like, “Tell that to the buyer. How am I going to tell the buyer that you're leaving your dog? It's your family dog.” That was a tricky one to get around. That was not included in the offer. Do you know when you say what's included and what's not?

I had another one where there was a beautiful fish tank. It was the focal point. I know we have all seen them when you walk into the house and it's so gorgeous. It's like a piece of art. The negotiations came down to the buyer is going to cancel if the fish were not included. It was interesting because the owners were very attached to the fish. I can understand how that happens.

I had a client, a developer and he's in the marina. He says, “Val, come over and see my house. The guy did outlandish things. I walk through the front door and in the center point of the house is an 8-foot x 8-foot floor-to-ceiling shark tank. Little baby sharks are in the tank and swimming around. I was like, “How do you show this house with a shark tank floor-to-ceiling glass in the middle of the living room, 8-foot x 8-foot with baby sharks swimming around and going by?”

The problem is all you do is feed them all the time. You got a predator tank. Your entire life is feeding, not even enjoying the aquarium.

You see those Koi ponds too. You walk up, see them and people fight about who gets the Koi fish. I had a client and her husband was pretty well-known. I went up to visit her and all of a sudden a 4-foot x 3-foot wide or 2-foot wide large iguana came loping out into the family room. It's this big monster-looking thing. I think his name is Romeo. It's this scary, prehistoric-looking thing loping across the living room. I'm like, “He has to go away somewhere when you show the house.”

The thing is sometimes it's weird. People are very attached to their animals. To them, they're totally great. I had this listing once in Malibu. That the house will be a rehab thing. The guy had the most dangerous-looking dog I have ever seen. It was this giant Mastiff. I would come in and it would give me the full stink-eye. I was scared. They can sense when you got fear. He goes, “Don't act fearful.” I'm like, “I'm scared. This isn't a dog that will bite you. It could kill you.”

He goes, “If he ever bit anybody, I would put him down.” I go, “That's after he bites.” People don't get it. This has to deal with the fact that we have to be completely objective when we're dealing with buyers as well. Some buyers are paranoid. They don't care if it's a Chihuahua. They're totally paranoid. You got to tell sellers, “The dog, pen it up or something.”

I had this other listing. It was a beautiful house. It was spectacular. The owner is very enthusiastic about animals but he hunts animals so he has a game room. There were some endangered species on this wall. It was overwhelming. I had to sit down with him, have an honest conversation and say, “Not everybody feels the way you do. You might turn some people off.” He said, “This is my passion. This is what I do. I'm proud of this. I want to keep them up.” The reactions on the people's faces when they came into the room were priceless because it was very overwhelming. They were large games around the world.

There was a house that was for sale. I took a couple of buyers there. It's exactly that. It was an older gentleman who was an astronaut at one point. The entire house was filled with those monster big heads, a life-size stuffed elephant and all those things. I found it very creepy to be walking through and have these huge heads staring down or looking at you. I couldn't imagine sitting there watching television or having dinner with those heads looking at you.

I had this house and Valerie, as you said, the owner was a hunter and had heads as well. He had this giant grizzly rug in the master and stuff. I was concerned when I first checked the listing because I thought about when somebody comes, they're an environmentalist and love animals like I do, frankly. I was afraid that it was going to be problematic. It was a very expensive house. It was $78 million at the time.

The weirdest thing is everybody that came in was all Chinese. Every single showing was Mainland Chinese. They loved it. They were taking pictures of the animals around them. It was crazy. I thought they would be sketched out too but they wanted pictures with the moose head over them and everything else. You never know.

Sellers have a lot of interesting requests. It's a delicate balance between being very unusual or something agents can comply with.

Don't those bear rugs have the big head with the mouth open like they're going to bite you when they do that? They're creepy.

People were taking pictures lying down next to the grizzly rug. It was weird.

Isn't it crazy the things we see and experience?

This other time, the owner said, “I'll get the house ready for you.” I said, “That's perfect. Thank you so much.” She's like, “I'm going to light some candles and turn all the lights on.” I'm like, “That's great.” I'm driving up to the house and I can see something's on fire. I'm like, “What this on fire?” Instead of running away from the fire, I run into the house towards the fire because I've got to put the fire out.

She had lit a candle and the coffee table was on fire. It wasn't life-threatening but I'm like, “What am I going to do?” I run into the laundry room to see if there are any wet towels or something. I was able to find some wet towels in the washing machine and throw them on top of the coffee table to put the fire out. You don't have enough time to like call 911 but you handle all these situations. I'm glad it was just the coffee table and the showing went on.

You recovered your cool.

You're a full-service agent.

I tell my friends 95% of what I do is not real estate. It's dealing with clients, handling these issues and trying to get through some of these crazy situations that we find ourselves in.

I have a question. You're down in the Newport Laguna area, which I happen to love. Have you always worked in that area? If you have, what are some of the things that come up more often than we would see?

I have. I grew up in Orange County so I have seen it develop over the years and it's interesting. We are seeing a lot of people come from Los Angeles trying to have a different lifestyle or a second home. The market is crazy. We're seeing things that we have never seen before. There are a lot of off-market deals. Also, the foreign market is back in Orange County.

Do you have any unusual requests?

We always have unusual requests as far as the seller or buyer.

RERL 9 Georgina Jacobson | Animal Stories

Animal Stories: Never give anything away about your preferences or personal situation. They can only cost you a deal.


Sellers have a lot of interesting requests. It's a delicate balance between being very unusual or something that we can comply with. Usually, it's more like they want specific things done. They want the air set to a certain temperature and certain lights to be on or off. I feel like every seller is so unique and has so many different requirements. A lot of it is more of the vetting so we're doing so much more of the vetting and seeing proof of funds and those sorts of things. Usually, the people want to sell their homes but put all these constraints on us. I'm sure you both can appreciate that. In a very short window of time, they say they want to sell and it's hard to get access. That's what we're seeing a lot of. It's interesting.

Have you ever walked into a crazy situation?

There's a beautiful listing on the Bayfront. It's spectacular. I'm so excited. It's a referral. This couple is in their 80s. They're so delightful and are a pleasure to work with. They were very specific about every time I show the house, at the end, I have to make sure that all of the blinds are drawn. Everything is closed. I'm like, “No problem.”

I'm in the master bedroom looking for the remote for the electric line and I can't find it anywhere. I open up the drawer next to the bed and found a whole lot of things that I was not looking for. They were battery-operated but they were not the remote for the blinds. I couldn't look the couple in the eye for the longest time because it was more information than I needed to know. I did find the remote and it wasn't in the master bedroom. I got those clients closed but it was very awkward for me. No one knew but it was very awkward.

That's nice to know that in the ‘80s they do it. Have you had any sellers ask you strange things on a listing appointment? Have you ever done anything crazy to get a listing?

Have you done anything crazy?

I have had to go to rock concerts and where they put the beer on their head and drink through a straw. I have had to do some pretty crazy things.

“You're a beautiful woman.” Sometimes I don't know if it's a date or a listing. That's a delicate balance. I try to always be very appropriate and professional. It is interesting because sometimes I'm not sure.

Bob, do you have that problem?

Doing weird things or women coming on to me?

Women are coming on to you, I'm sure.

A lot of times, some agents want to be the celebrity rather than be the salesperson or the conduit to facilitate a transaction.

I have had my share of that for the years. My philosophy is to never give anything away about what your preferences are or what your personal situation is because it can only cost you a deal. The point is all it can do is cost you something. There's no upside to discussing your personal thing. I have had gay guys try to fix me up and I go, “I'm not gay,” after I have the deal. We all run into that.

I'll tell you one funny thing about that. I had this property I was selling on Sunset and this woman called me. She had this accent, which I didn't recognize. She sounded old but she was going, “What is the seller like? Is he interested? Is he single?” She's talking about that and I'm trying to sell the house. I go, “He is.” He was a pretty irritating guy so I wouldn't have fixed him up anyway. She goes, “I had this wealthy husband. I want to meet somebody else.” I said, “Whatever.”

The bottom line is she gave me her name, I sold the house to somebody else and a few years later, she called me on another property, which was Spencer Proffer's property. She wanted to come to see it so I met her up there. This woman is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. It was her. She was from Brazil. She was this Brazilian model and a showgirl in Vegas. I'm like, “You need to be fixed up. It was a weird situation. She was very flirtatious. It was one of those things where, “I'm going to sell the house and move on.”

Some of my clients don't know if I have a pet, if I have a child or if I'm married. A lot of times, I'm trying to make it all about them. You're right to take that approach where it's more about them.

When they start to go a little personal with me, I usually turn it around because you can get people to talk about themselves easily. You're talking about them and they think you had a great conversation.

It relates to my mantra, which I may have mentioned on a previous podcast, that I tell my own agents as well is if you are good at talking or selling, that's great. You will do well. If you shut up and listen to what they're saying, not just the words and you're not thinking of your response then you're going to do great. You have to, first of all, have empathy towards what the other person's situation is. They will tell you what they need to hear from you is the bottom line. If you're not listening and too busy talking, that's not going to happen.

With all the TV shows these days, that makes everything look so sexual, sensual, glamorous and the clothes. Everything is so sexy and you walk and strut. It gives the wrong impression of what we have to manage and do.

I spoke once at an Inman conference and I said, “I'm only going to talk if I can say what is the truth. Otherwise, get somebody else.” There's all this big audience of people wanting to know what's the secret to getting super high-end deals, this and that. The first thing I said was, “Ignore every single thing you see on those scripted television shows. That is not reality.” It isn't. It's entertainment and that's great. Take it for what it is but that is not real estate. If you think that's how you're going to make it in this business then you better do something else.

My daughter loves to watch some of those shows and I said, “That's not what happens. That's not what mommy does.” One of them was a broker preview and it was Botox and some signature cocktail. I'm like, “We don't do that.”

Let me go to an open house, have some Botox or a plethora of other things that they could offer and film it. That's even better.

Some sellers want that and you have to say, “I don't care what you've seen on TV. That is not what is going to sell your property.” They still somehow think that is the philosopher's stone. That's what's going to be the answer. It isn't.

The thing is I used to do the parties when I had my show on HGTV. I used to do all the events and parties because every house has a story and all that. It never brought the buyer but it did satisfy the seller. They liked all that attention and their house to be showcased. You see a little bit still going on. It's not as much as it used to be though.

RERL 9 Georgina Jacobson | Animal Stories

Animal Stories: If you are good at talking or selling, you will do well. If you shut up and listen to what clients are saying, you will do great.

It's interesting that you did that. I know because we have done deals. You are a consummate deal maker. You understand how to make a deal and turn a prospective buyer into an actual sale. Some people do TV shows and that's a different thing. If you have the skillset, you can use a TV show to help maximize exposure. That's another thing.

A lot of times some of the agents want to be the celebrity or the actor rather than be the salesperson or the conduit to facilitate a transaction. That's also an interesting balance that I'm seeing a lot.

They want to be the celebrity. There's no question.

I will send clips of things to some good clients that are in the entertainment business and go, “Can you believe this?” It's some ridiculous thing with some agent coming through like they are the story when it's the house that's the story.

Georgina, it is great having you on our show. If our readers would like to reach out to you, what's the best way to reach you?

My Instagram is @GeorginaJacobsonGroup and I would love to hear from you anytime. Thank you so much, Valerie and Bob, for having me. It was a pleasure.

Thank you so much for joining us.

She's very successful. She's a genuine person, which is the type of who you want to deal with.

She's steady and smart and everybody likes her. I'm thrilled she could join us too. Readers, thank you for joining us to hear inside stories and have a few laughs. If you have a funny or interesting story, tell us a little bit about it at [email protected]. Maybe you can be the next guest on our show.

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About Georgina Jacobson

RERL 9 Georgina Jacobson | Animal Stories

Real estate expert Georgina Jacobson extends unparalleled market knowledge and unrivaled expertise to clients all over Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and Irvine. Because of her local knowledge and experience, Georgina has handled transactions for custom homes in Big Canyon, Emerald Bay, Smithcliffs, Harbor Island, Linda Isle, Irvine Terrace, Balboa Island, Irvine Cove, Pelican Point and Pelican Hill. Demonstrating exceptional knowledge of the high end market, Georgina has managed landmark sales, including a $17 million sale on Harbor Island, $14 million on Linda Isle, $10 million plus sale in Irvine Terrace, $8 million in Pelican Point, and $7.5 million in Shady Canyon®. Georgina is extremely well versed in the luxury market of Orange County, and she takes pride in her ability to negotiate win-win transactions for buyers and sellers alike.

A resident of Newport Beach for over 30 years and a licensed real estate agent for the past 20 years, Georgina possesses a unique understanding of the various differences among the communities along the Orange County coast. She also has a keen understanding of the cutting edge market trends in today’s real estate market and she stays current with all of its changing conditions.

Georgina’s integrity and commitment to her clients make her an asset to every transaction. As a graduate of USC, Georgina enjoys calling California homes and she takes pride in providing the highest level of service to all of her clients, whether buying or selling. With a background in marketing, Georgina is able to quickly identify the most appropriate strategy for selling a home.

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