Being on the renting or buying side of the New York City real estate market is a strange enough experience -- something akin to living out an E! reality show where we willingly open our bank accounts, personal history, and various, ideally private areas for public prodding and prying. But for the brokers, things are infinitely weirder -- apartment showings are like an anthology of bizarre tales full of eccentric characters (and a surprising amount of people hiding in closets). We reached out to some of the top real estate agencies in the city to find out what weird stories top their charts. Here’s what we found.
Trapped in the Closet: Chapter 1
“I found a construction worker having sex in an empty apartment before showing. When I entered with the client, the worker was getting dressed in a bedroom. So we went into the second bedroom and found the half-naked girl hiding in the closet. She screamed. We screamed. Then she ran out.” -- Anonymous broker from Citi Habitats
Breaking and entering
“I once wanted to show an apartment in Harlem. I was supposed to pick up the key at the beauty shop next door. But the person who had it wasn’t there. I saw a maintenance worker and asked him if I could show the apartment. He didn’t have a key, but he went into the apartment above and climbed down the fire escape. My client and I heard a big crash. He broke the window to enter the apartment and let us in. My client didn’t take the apartment.” -- Anonymous broker from Citi Habitats
Are those red light bulbs energy efficient?
“I showed what was supposed to be a three-bedroom, two-bathroom for $5,000 in Murray Hill once, and I walked in with the client and it was being used as a brothel. Awkward.” -- Anonymous broker from Compass
Trapped in the Closet: Chapter 2
“I was showing an apartment under renovation to a lady and her parents. The lights were off and no one seemed to be there. I was calling the client’s attention to the closet space and got to the bedroom closet, which was a walk-in. When I opened the door I was startled by a guy who was hiding inside the closet -- one of the contractors. I quickly closed the door and continued as if nothing happened. Even though everyone saw the guy, no one mentioned it.” -- Anonymous broker from Citi Habitats
We’re best friends now, right?
“I sold a woman a newly renovated single-family townhouse in Bed-Stuy. She was friendly and nice to work with, but then gradually became overly friendly! It graduated from texts asking for drinks to her actually asking me to move in with her. At first I thought she was just joking around, but she said, ‘It would be great to have some help with the mortgage. You could live in this bedroom, and you did say you liked the neighborhood.’ I was absolutely blown away. It took me a while to realize that she was being 100% serious. And she was. We closed on the deal, and perhaps she found another roommate!” -- Anonymous broker from Corcoran
Are you decent?
“Our former assistant had an appointment to run an open house. She arrived at the building and the doorman gave her the key to the apartment. She proceeded to open the door and found a screaming naked elderly woman in front of her, at which point, in shock, she shut the door. Turns out that she had arrived in the wrong building. The doorman had simply given her the key to the same apartment number, in the wrong building. Needless to say, going forward, she double checks her addresses.” -- Anonymous broker from Compass
Trapped in the Closet: Chapter 3
“I’d shown the apartment early in the afternoon and returned the key to the doorman. Later the same day I returned to show it again, but the key was not at the station. The doorman shift had changed and the doorman on duty searched diligently for the key, but it was nowhere to be found. The super let me in with the client with a master key. During the showing, the client couldn’t open the bedroom closet. I tried to help by pulling the bifold doors. When I succeeded, the client almost had a heart attack, since there was a man in the closet. I was nonplussed, since I knew the man. It was the doorman from earlier in the day. He said, ‘Don’t tell anyone that I am here.’ I said I couldn’t protect him, that I wouldn’t tell but that he had to leave, knowing that he had to walk past the front door where the current doorman and super were still vigorously searching for the key.” -- Anonymous broker from Compass
Nothing but the clothes on (or, off) their backs
“One of the weirdest things that ever happened to me was several years ago. I was selling an apartment on Fourth Ave in Brooklyn. Fourth Ave then was not Fourth Ave now. Aside from tire shops and gas stations, there wasn’t much there. I came into the property to do the final walk through. I had gotten there early and didn’t want to hang outside. It was a little creepy and really cold. I went into the apartment to wait for the buyers. I turned on the lights and there were two naked men on the floor of the living room in sleeping bags. They were not my sellers. There were Coke cans and trash strewn all about. I was super stressed by these naked strangers in an apartment that didn’t belong to them, but managed to make them get up and dressed. The sellers had moved to their new place once they were in contract on the sale and rented the apartment while they were in contract but didn’t tell anyone, and didn’t tell the renters they needed to be out by closing. Because it was only a couple of months, the renters had been living there with no furniture. No nothing, except the clothes on their backs and their sleeping bags.” -- Anonymous broker from Compass
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