For this real estate agent, the scariest homes are haunted by felines.
When I ask my colleagues about their real estate horror stories, their answers run the gamut, but they all have one thing in common: most normal people would agree that their stories are somewhere in the range of awful to terrifying.
Many real estate horror stories include disturbing things like vaguely haunted properties, rooms full of dolls with glass eyes, and doors to nowhere. Or they are what most of us consider icky and annoying: toilets that overflow right before open house starts, stinky refrigerators in vacant properties that resemble Louis Pasteur-type science experiments, college student rental properties, and alarms that are loud and easily triggered.
But not me. My real estate horror story involves cute and seemingly harmless furry pets: cats.
Yes, you read that right: cats. Fifteen years in real estate and nothing strikes fear in the heart of this real estate agent more than six simple words: DO NOT LET THE CAT OUT.
I try to play it cool in front of my clients. After all, I’m a professional. If I can successfully navigate the challenges of the transaction process, I can keep a cat in a house… right? Well, maybe…
It starts to feel like the law of attraction. The more I obsess about NOT letting the cat out, the more likely it will be that his owners will come home and find him doings shots of milk on the neighbor’s front porch.
My palms start to sweat as I approach the lockbox. I know the moment I turn the key in the lock and cautiously nudge the door open, the clever fellow will bolt out as though it’s the best opportunity for freedom he’s ever had! If these weren’t his plans, why would his caring owners give such an imperative on the front door?
I find myself wishing for the millionth time in my career that my job description did not include managing the destiny of domestic felines.
Recently I showed a house where the cat was already outside of the house, watching every move from the glass patio door of the fenced in yard, waiting. Let that sink in for a minute: already outside. And yes, the sign on the door said—you guessed it—DO NOT LET THE CAT OUT.
I was suddenly paralyzed with fear. What did this mean? He was already outside. Should I let him back in? The cat was beautiful…probably a Himalayan, probably expensive. Suddenly, being a real estate agent seemed like the scariest job in the world.
We wanted to see the backyard, so we opened the door carefully, but he immediately bounded into the house and bolted up the stairs, never to be seen again for the rest of the showing. While my clients and I discussed whether the home was suitable for them, I couldn’t help but question whether the cat was in the appropriate location, or whether the owners were going to be upset when they returned.
Hadn’t the sign said not to let the cat OUT? Had the previous showing agent let the cat out and now I was just letting him back IN? The confusion was terrifying.
Thankfully, I was able to recover my wits and do the responsible thing: I called the listing agent so she could inform the homeowners of the whereabouts of their cat. I breathed a sigh of relief, moving on with my day and hoping that it would not include any more showings with cats on the premises.
Until Invisible Fence can accommodate cats, give me all the old houses with squeaky floors and creepy basements on the market, but don’t let any cats cross my path!