It was a waterfront home on the Venetian Islands in Biscayne Bay, Fla. The owner, who was Italian, had lived there for five or six years and was moving back to Europe. The home was in good condition but hadn’t been renovated for 15 years. We were selling it as-is. “As-is” means the kitchen may be five years old or the back deck needs repair, but the buyer is willing to take on and absorb those costs.
I didn’t meet the seller too many times, I met his property manager. The house was on the market for six or seven months and we got an offer for $3 million. The seller came in and signed all the documents, then flew out of town.
I got the keys and took the buyers on the final walk-through. As we walked up, I saw some kayaks on the side of the house, just sitting on the lawn. The front of the house was all glass, and you could see there were things inside. We went inside, and everything was still there.
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It was fully furnished—a mixture of West Elm, Crate and Barrel, some Restoration Hardware—good quality furniture. The beds were all made, the kitchen cleaned. There was artwork. The buyer was like, “His stuff is still here, can you find out the situation?”
I called the seller and said, “The house is super clean, but it’s full of furniture.”
He said, “Yeah, I sold the house as-is, I didn’t take anything.” When the seller read the contract he assumed the sale included the furniture. You’re talking about maybe $75,000 worth of furniture on a $3 million deal. It didn’t worry him, it was just a funny misunderstanding.
And then he said, “Make sure you feed the cat.”
I said, “The cat?”
He said, “Yes, the cat has been coming to the house for a few years. I’ve been feeding him. Make sure you leave food out for him.”
At that point, it was going to cost me several thousand dollars to get a mover to take it all out. So I called a couple of housekeepers I know and said, “Do you want a $2,000 bed?” Within minutes, three or four cars pulled up in front of the house. In a couple of hours it was all cleaned out. The buyers kept the living room furniture and the dining room furniture. I took the kayaks.
As far as I know, they’re still feeding the cat.
Mary Vaux Bell
Realtor, Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty in Bluffton, S.C.
I had a home listed along the May River in Bluffton on 11 acres, priced over $1 million. It was a co-listing with my colleague Judy Collins.
I knew the seller. Her son, who was in his 60s, was living in the house and he didn’t want her to sell it. He made it pretty difficult for us to list it because he had so much stuff there. He was a bit of a hoarder.
The house was fine. It was the things that were outside the house. There were parts of docks that had floated away that the son had pulled up on land.
He had a few sheds and they were filled to the brim. He had a big snake in a clear jar of formaldehyde that had been there for like 25 years. There were beehives, and chickens in a coop.
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It was a constant battle trying to get him to move everything; we extended the closing so many times. I hired one of those companies, College Hunks Hauling Junk. They filled five or six of those humongous bins and it didn’t even make a dent.
On the last day, the chickens and the bees were still there. The buyers were a young family. They did not want the bees or the chickens.
I called the county about the beehives. I think they sent someone to get them. There was a guy who was there with our go-to handyman doing some repairs on the exterior of the house. He said, “Well my chickens just got killed, I’ll take them.”
He had built a big coop for his chickens, but a fox or something got into it. I said, “I would love for you to take these chickens, they are yours.”
The chickens weren’t the designer type of chicken that people are into nowadays, but they laid eggs and everything. I think the chickens came out ahead.