“I just got done selling a house in Shaw and can’t believe how casual and nonchalant people are with other people’s things”

open-house
Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

This is from this morning’s rant/revel but is so crazy I’m curious if others have had similar experiences:

“I don’t know if there is something in the water in the District, or people have just lost their damn minds but just got done selling a house in Shaw and can’t believe how casual and nonchalant people are with other people’s things.

Due to my employers frenzied last minute move of me, I had moved all my stuff out of the house and moved away before it hit the market, so the house was empty but not unmonitored (I had a cameras inside watching the entire first floor and the back and front).

I had half a dozen or so people go to the bathroom in my house, a few take # 2’s and a couple people not bother to flush after they used the toilet. I mean, you are in a strangers house for 10 freaking minutes and you feel the need to crap in their bathroom?!. I had realtors come over and literally throw their food/candy/gum wrappers on the kitchen/living room floor or leave their trash/food wrappers/empty soda containers on the kitchen counter. I had agents walk out and not lock the doors, leaving the house unlocked for days, or start playing with the thermostat.

I had a prospective buyer root through my mail (while their agent stood right there) which was in a pile by the front door, take a magazine and leave with it.

I had a number of agent’s walk into the house after dark, turn on all the lights and then leave 20 minutes later leaving every light, and bathroom fan on in the entire house (those things aren’t built to run for days at a time). Um, hello…everything was off when you arrived, common sense dictates you turn it all off. My realtor was apoplectic but he can’t be there every time another realtor wants to show the house. All of this happened in the 6 weeks from listing to contract and it was a recently remodeled house listed in the high 6 figures, so it wasn’t like it was a tear down or in horrible shape or a construction zone where people could feel like they didn’t “have” to care.

Thank god for the camera. I took a bunch of video grabs and emailed them to the realtors and their bosses. I got one freaking apology out of 4 separate emails. I am half tempted to post all the video’s online so people know what kind of realtor they are signing up for.

I have owned and sold houses in 3 other places in my life, both urban and suburban and NEVER seen such shocking disregard for someone else’s property by realtors or people supposedly in the market to buy.”

66 Comment

  • Well, I sold my condo back in May and can attest realtors don’t care about leaving/turning off lights, trash, etc. But…the bathroom thing you mention is weird. First of all, I have been to open houses and really had to use the bathroom, do you expect them to hold it? Also…were you monitoring the bowl with your camera? You saw them take decuces?

    • My realtor, who is one of the classiest and considerate women I know, and who has been in the business for decades, believes it’s perfectly acceptable to use bathrooms when touring houses. When we were house hunting we’d easily spend half a day out, so someone would have to go sooner or later.

      • Nothing is wrong with dropping a deuce in a toilet, considering that is what toilets are for, but not flushing is unacceptable.

        • This also reminds me of a story she told me from when she was selling a multi-million dollar property in McLean. A prospective buyer turned on the bath spigot with the bathtub drain closed, and somehow forgot it was running when they left the house. So it could always be worse!

  • You have a camera in the bathroom?

  • jim_ed

    The trash and mail stuff I get, but why do you care if someone pinches a loaf there? People are probably looking at a bunch of houses, and clearly no one lives in yours, so why shouldn’t they use the bathroom? Also, how do you know they’re not flushing, and how much time are you devoting to your detective work here, Poirot?

  • While I can’t disagree with OP’s feigned disbelief, her tone isn’t exactly helping her cause.

  • I had a similar experience with a Coldwell Banker agent when I was selling my home in August. The young man showed up on his client’s behalf reeking of alcohol and kept rambling in such a way it was obvious to my agent and me that he was quite intoxicated.

  • Post the videos online!

  • I would definitely poop in a stranger’s house if I had to go (but would obviously flush). Sometimes you can’t hold it! But the other stuff is pretty inexcusable.

  • I just bought a house after an exhaustive search that lasted about 6 months. While I’m not surprised, I will say that we (as prospective buyers) always made an effort to turn off lights that we turned on before leaving a home. Our agent always made sure the doors were locked as well and would even go back inside to double check. I would expect anyone else to do the same, so I’d be pretty shocked and outraged about that as well!

    The bathroom thing is, well, a little more understandable (minus the not flushing). Like someone else commented, it’s not like you have anywhere else to go when going to see multiple homes back to back.

  • Yeah, I’m not entirely sure it’s legal to set up video cameras in a bathroom, even in your own home, and then invite the public into the home (via an open house or a real estate listing) and not notify them that the bathrooms are being recorded. You sound super creepy to me. Video voyeurism is a crime in you are taking video of people in a state of undress in a place where they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, and if I were on the jury, I’d say a bathroom with the door closed in a vacant home in a real estate listing would certainly qualify. And regardless of how you obtained the footage and IF it turned out to be legal for you to film it, it is certainly against the law for you to distribute it without the consent of the people you taped. If you do post it online, I hope you get prosecuted. And also remember, not everyone who looks like an adult is – and producing or distributing child pornography if you find out the person was the 17 and a half year old son or daughter of the person buying the house will land you on a list for life!
    .
    And for the record, yes, it’s perfectly fine to use a bathroom in a vacant house if you have to go. Often, you’re looking at a half a dozen places in a row, and can’t get back home or to your hotel to use one, and it’s silly to stop at a restaurant somewhere when there is a perfectly functional bathroom in a completely vacant house. In a house where someone still lives there, it’s a bit more iffy. But a vacant house? Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Though from now on, I’ll always check to see if some creepy criminal might be trying to record me first!! Then pull the camera out of the wall or ceiling, disable it, and go on my merry way 🙂

    • I assumed the home owner discovered the bathroom issues when he/she was visiting the house.

      • no, i assume it was on video. Not that there is a camera in the bathroom (I certainly hope there isn’t) but if you have one in the house and it shows the bathroom door, and has audio, you can watch someone go in, shut the door, stay for many minutes, then leave without an audible flush.

        • It reads like its on video, otherwise how would s/he know that there are different numbers of people going to the bathroom in my house, taking # 2’s, and not flushing? But, I assume that this is really hyperbole and the person really only knows that people went into the bathroom and used it (based on how a camera showing how long they’re in there) and not flushing (based on either checking on the house themselves or complaints from other realtors)

          • Regardless of if the video was in the bathroom or just outside, the following two things are still true:
            .
            1. It’s perfectly fine to use a bathroom in a vacant house if you need to go. Period.
            .
            2. It is 100% creepy to record people in a vacant house without making it explicitly clear that they are being recorded – big sign by the front door, clear notation in the listing, bright red blinking light on a clearly visible security camera in the corner, etc. People in a vacant home will often have very private conversations with their partner or their realtor about the house, their bidding strategy, their finances, etc, and they have a right to know if the listing agent and the seller will be eavesdropping on those conversations so they know to wait until they leave to discuss it.
            .
            So right there, as the seller, you (AND your agent) were in the wrong. And your agent might very well have been risking his or her license over not disclosing that, especially if there was audio. Regardless, I would love to know who the agent is to know whose listings to *avoid*. And if you went further than that into criminal behavior (I did check up on the video voyeurism laws, and putting a camera in the bathroom itself would qualify as illegal), then you ought to go to jail. Your OWN creep-tastic behavior has dried up any sympathy I have over your magazine or your lights or any leftover wrappers or coffee cups in your kitchen.

          • @Shaw – If you really feel this way then I would suggest you never go to anyone’s home, ever. It is only 6% creepy to use security cameras in a home you own- ESPECIALLY in a home you aren’t living in- what if the home was vandalized?? I say 6% creepy because the idea of listening to security footage for audible flushes seems a bit extreme.

          • @Shaw: I’m not sure you ever have an expectation of privacy in someone else’s house, but this admittedly is not my area. However, you are curiously worked up about this – what did you do at an open house in Shaw that you are worried is caught on film?

          • @Kate – the OP makes it pretty clear there was no vandalization, no crime, etc. S/he just got off on watching other people (and, apparently, monitoring their bathroom usage!!) as they went through the house. That’s creepy!! *Having* a camera to watch for taggers or package thieves or whatever, especially on the outside of a house, is fine. You’re in public. You have no expectation of privacy. And I have no problem with people posting video of criminals committing a crime, ever, because being a criminal is wrong. But putting them inside your house, and not giving anyone notice, so you can go back and eavesdrop on them after the fact and determine if they had a bowel movement or not, because for some freaky reason, it’s important for you to know if that happened in a house you don’t even live in anymore?? Creepy. Period.
            .
            And, let’s also not forget that reviewing video of potential buyers can also enable you to violate the Fair Housing Act. If you get an offer in Tuesday night and go back to the video and see that the only people who saw the house that day was that black lady, or that gay couple, or whatever… These weren’t security cameras in case there was a crime – these were only there for deliberate surveillance and permanent video capture of the people who came to see the house.

          • +1 to everything Shaw is saying! Completely risky for the selling agent to knowingly allow that without putting a notice on the listing (hoping the owner did it without alerting the agent).

          • Oh please. It is still the seller’s house and she has every right to have video cameras on the inside of it (with the possible exception of INSIDE the bathroom as she would know strangers might be using it).

            I can’t believe you are getting bent out of shape about the owner of a home monitoring the premises via video when she is not in the DC area.

            Come on, man.

          • Wow. Shaw’s response might just be the most absurd thing I’ve read all month. And it has been an eventful month.

            Here’s an idea. Don’t crap in a stranger’s house. Wow. Magic. Moving on.

    • FFS, you’re going with child porn?? You’re as ridiculous as the OP.

      • Haha, yea, that’s quite out there – though they do make a more salient point regarding possible violation of the “Fair Housing Act”, though I can’t imagine anyone would move to prosecute.

        • Yeah, but that point also ignores the intention to violate the FHA. Having a camera doesn’t violate it, reviewing the footage to find a particular possible bidder and then discriminating against that bidder would be a violation. That’s about 10 steps beyond what the OP is posting about.

      • palisades

        I think Shaw is on to something. OP is probably in the same ring as Comet Pizza people. #PIZZAGATE keeps growing!!!!

  • I agree about everything except the pooping. Nature calls when it calls. Can’t fault people for that. But not flushing is disgusting. I do think there’s a lot of thoughtless behavior that is unique to the culture of DC, however.

    • The whole “sometimes you just have to go” is fine if you are a 6 month old infant, but seriously it is rude to walk into some random strangers house, spend 5 minutes in it, pee all over the floor (why haven’t men been able to master urinating without spraying it all over the place is beyond me) or taking dumps (and not flushing).

      And no, I didn’t have cameras in the bathroom, but the one in the living room can see the entire first floor and after my agent told me he found the first unflushed dump I could scroll back the video and see who it was.

      DC residents apparently think all of this is common human nature. That is sad commentary on the average DC resident and Realtor.

      • It sounds like you 1) object to a possible homebuyer doing a #2 even if he/she does flush and 2) think it’s especially outrageous if he/she doesn’t. Is that correct?
        .
        If you don’t even live there any more, why would you care if a visitor did a #2, as long as he/she flushed properly?

      • I understand your concerns, but recording potential buyers without their knowledge is a real potential liability. I’d suggest not doing it in the future, or providing a clear disclosure they are under surveillance. Depending on the jurisdiction (I’d have to check for DC) you may be violating wiretapping laws if the recording includes sound. For instance, I am pretty sure Maryland is one of those jurisdictions. It doesn’t matter if you live there or own the property, the law usually doesn’t care about where the recording was made. And as I think another poster mentioned, you need to be careful not to violate the Fair Housing Act. Not that I think you did, but having a recording defeats some of the protections having a third party agent gives to you, since you know who the buyer is and what they look like.

        As for the use of the bathroom, I think the people are reacting to the original post, which makes it sound like you are just mad people used the bathroom at all. Making a mess would be rude if they were a guest over for dinner, that is independent of just using the bathroom. But just using it neatly… complaining about that seems unreasonable. Unfortunately you lead with that point, so it is what people are focusing on.

        • Not only that, but the OP could have heard conversations that the potential buyers thought were private and use that as an unfair advantage when negotiating the sales price. I don’t know if it’s in violation of any laws but it’s definitely a shady thing to do.

      • Where did you use the bathroom when you were looking at houses? Did you and your realtor make each other wait while you found Starbucks bathrooms to use? These people aren’t just spending five minutes in your house and going home– if they’re serious buyers they might be looking at houses for six hours straight, and that’s a long time to hold it.

      • The videotaping violates DC wiretapping laws. In order to legally videotape, you would need to be present as one of the parties to give consent. Your agent should have advised you of this. (As well as advised you to the likely behaviour of potential buyers). There are also several other potential laws this could have violated including fair housing laws.

        It sounds like to me you had a sub par agent who did not advise you properly. If the things you mentioned were going to bother you, then your house should have been sold as a pocket listing, where there would be far fewer people, who are screened more, would be the only ones gaining access to your property.

        • This isn’t a valid or reasonable interpretation of the statutes. If it were, any security camera in a private home would be a violation. It also isn’t a violation of the FHA unless there was actual discrimination that occurred.

          • Case law on both points says otherwise. 1st circuit has ruled within the last couple years that discrimination need not have actually happened nor had been intended for a violation of fair housing laws to occur. That case is easily found. The wiretapping I don’t know off hand, but every agent is aware of the wiretapping statues and advise clients not to videotape the interior of their properties if they are not present. It’s industry standard in both DC and MD. VA almost anything goes.

      • @Katey I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not, are you upset that:

        a. People used the bathroom
        b. People used the bathroom without flushing
        c. Peed on the floor

        I don’t recall C being in your previous complaint, that’s insane and you have every right to be upset about both B and C. But, it sort of feels like you just don’t want people using the bathroom at all, and at some point on a day long house search you have to go.

        Also, many commenters here have made EXCELLENT points about the Fair Housing Act. I hope you (and your agent) don’t come to regret emailing those images.

  • I feel sorry for whoever puts an offer on this house. No doubt the negotiations and closing are going to be hell.

  • If I were looking at a house with an idea of buying, I would flush the toilets, whether I used them or not, just to check their flush ability.

  • DieKunst

    I had real estate agents not only forget to lock the back door, they didn’t even shut the door. I came home a couple of times to the door ajar so nothing I hear surprises me at this point. I complained to the office but they didn’t really care and never apologized. I was still living in the house so it bothered me worse than any other annoying thing people did. This wasn’t in DC so it doesn’t sound too uncommon to have agents that aren’t very careful with other people’s property. I live in a condo building now and I see all kinds of stupid real estate agent shenanigans, mostly with locks.

  • To the seller, I am sorry that so many people disrespected your home. I am shocked to learn that people act like this when touring one’s home. I’m also surprised that so many of these comments are so rude. People shouldn’t be going through and taking someone’s mail, or littering the home and leaving lights on.

    • I 100% agree – no excuse for throwing trash on the floor, or pissing on the floor. I’d be holy pissed (er, peeved) if I were in your position)

  • I agree with you that people here must be pigs. Maybe my experience is out of date – it is definitely out of town – but in Brooklyn in the mid-90s, it was definitely not OK with any agent (and I saw a lot of both buyers and sellers agents) for prospective buyers/lookers to use someone’s bathroom; and when I sold in the mid-00’s, it was still not OK to use someone’s bathroom. It would be OK for the agent YOU hired to use the bathroom, as they are taking care of you place for you while they are there, and they are there for hours if they hold an open house or do multiple showings of the place back to back. Anyone else? Go to a nearby restaurant – definitely.
    .
    Maybe that’s the reason that showings there are generally by appointment only. Yes, my agent had to be there in person for every single showing, whether the potential buyers came with their own agent, or not. I mean, would you have it any other way? I made sure there was not one scrap of paper or mail there for anyone to look through (I moved my paper files out – anything at all personal that was there on a weekend when open houses occurred was sealed up in a box and put where it would be hard to reach on the furthermost part of the highest closet shelf. At least you showed the place empty – can you imagine if your stuff was there? That’s why I removed almost everything except some of my furniture and wall art to stage the place, and left only a minimum amount of kitchen stuff and minimum amount of clothing for me to get by, and no other stuff at all in my place – I didn’t want to be a victim of identity theft, and I didn’t want stuff that that could be easily pocketed or put into a bag to disappear. I realize everybody can’t do this, but I can’t imagine showing my place with my stuff there without me or my agent there to look over them, and even then, I’d remove anything that I was afraid might be taken easily.

  • Shaw is correct that videotaping people without consent is illegal unless it is in a public setting. DC law requires one party consent, so the seller can only record if they are there giving their consent. Videotaping them, even if you own the property is illegal unless reasonable notification is given. It can also lead to potential fair hosting laws as well. In fact the listing agent should have been aware of this. I am an agent and I’ve taken classes on this very subject. They should have either posted a notice about the surveillance or told their client to turn the cameras off.

    • I’m actually preeeety sure thats not true. DC is in fact a one party consent jursdiction… but that is for wire tapping. Wiretapping laws only apply to audio. That might seem strange, but the laws were written with tapping into a phone line in mind. They were mostly written when video surveillance just wouldn’t have been a concern.

      Should they change to allow more protection from video surveillance? Perhaps. But as it stands, as long as the camera is not in a bathroom or a space you rent out to someone else, you can record wherever you want in your own house. The laws at issue are voyeurism laws, not wiretapping.

      Completely different story pf course if there is audio. THAT would be a violation of the wiretapping statute.

      • You are correct that if there is no audio then wiretapping statues don’t apply. However most home security systems do have audio these days. So I was making the assumption that there is audio.

  • Chucking the deuce and potentially leaving an odor or staining what one would assume would be a clean toilet doesnt make people feel a bit self conscious? I guess if you really have to go than so be it but doing so while others are viewing the home makes for a great slapstick comedy segment. Soap or no soap? sanitizer? Is the fan on?

    I have seen homes that sorta winterized the toilets by wrapping a bow/ribbon around it so people didnt have the option to use the toilet. The OP might want to consider that next time.

  • I just think it is nasty for potential buyers or realtors to poop and not flush, piss on the floor, riffle through personal mail and take a magazine, throw trash on the floor.
    Were these people raised in a barn? Find a trashcan, flush, don’t steal someone’s mail.

    Common courtesy seems to be sorely lacking

  • As an agent myself, the bathroom thing isn’t an issue. Although frowned upon, it happens. The fact that it’s recorded borders on illegal. In any hot market you get shitty agents that don’t care and unfortunately, it sounds like why you have here. I respect other people’s Homes, even if they are vacant, they shouldn’t be treated differently. Anyone who says they should is an asshole. Glad this person sold their house and moved on to a better area filled with less self ri

  • binntp

    As a counterpoint, I recently sold my home and didn’t experience any of this type of behavior–nothing taken, no doors left open, even most of the lights were turned off afterward (I don’t have cameras). Maybe my potential buyers and their agents just were more courteous? Or perhaps because my home still had my stuff in it, they were more respectful?

    • You were lucky. Last time I sold (in Columbia Heights), agents would call with a time they wanted to show it, I would leave, they would not come or call. I would call after an hour or so to see if I could go home and they would tell me they weren’t going to make it. In spite of having clear instructions that there was an alarm system and how to disarm it, they ALWAYS set it off. And then not re-arm it when they left. And left lights on. And garbage (coffee cups etc) on the counters.

      And I always cleaned all three toilets after showings because yes, men have poor aim or simply don’t care.

  • Forgetting to turnoff the lghts is pretty common–happened to me here and in Atlanta.

    Worse is when someone does a walk through with an inspector and calls the electric company to turnoff the power because the inspector was concerned where the power comes into the house– which was the consequence of a storm and somethings.hing the power company was unwilling to change afterward. This happened to me in Atlanta and the power company went so far as to turn off the power. The guy who turned it on basically said that turning it off was potential grounds for a law suit–what if an owner needed power for oxygen or other specialized equipment.? All this happened on a day when I was supposed to be leaving for India except the airline changed the flight, so it could have been worse. The buyer still decided to buy, but I told her agent (who kindly stopped by for awhile while I waited f Georgia Power) that this was the kind of stupidity that seemed to happen over and over again in Atlanta and made me happy to leave. To make the whip olé thing even odder, the buyer later wanted to push up the closing even thought it had been clear that I was out of the country for a month.

    Anyway, people do odd things in the course of selling a property and OP worrying about her bathroom being used as a comfort stop is probably the least of them, esp. If she feels compelled to video everything, which is truly weird and probably illegal.

  • retropean

    Post the videos OP!

  • Had a similar experience in Capital Hill a few years ago. We had people leave the bathtub running, stove on, door unlocked and/or show up hours after their appointment (in the middle of dinner, etc). The worst was folks who showed up 3 hours late for their showing, did not put in the alarm code, and did not call our agent when it went off (so 5 MPD officers showed up when the alarm company could not reach us). It amazed me.

  • justinbc

    You sold the house. Move on.