Real Estate Roundtable: Unforgettable Open Houses


Celebrities, warring spouses, trampolines… Our panel of real estate experts tell all about their most memorable open house experiences.

I had sellers who were getting divorced. I scheduled an open house and they both decided to stay and have a fight while there were buyers walking through the house. Expletives were flying until ultimately one of them locked themselves in the master bedroom. I collected my signs and went home. The house did eventually sell. –Patrick McLaughlin, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Open houses are interesting affairs, but they always remind me how small of a world it is out here. Recently, I was holding an open house at one of my exclusives in Sag Harbor and a nice couple from Ireland came in. They were just walking around the village for the day. After touring the property, we were making small talk and soon realized they were good friends of my aunt and uncle who live in New York City. It’s a small world and only gets smaller by the day. –Doug Sabo, Nest Seekers International

I was hosting an open house in Bridgehampton and Joy Behar walked in. I was a bit starstruck, but we hit it off. The following year she called and asked if I could show her homes to purchase in East Hampton. We started looking and found her a great property. I know a lot of agents feel that open houses are a waste of time, but I love the homes I represent and enjoy hosting open houses. You just never know who will walk in when you’re in the Hamptons! –Angela Boyer-Stump, Sotheby’s International

About six years ago, I had an open house for a property in Sagaponack north, on a Sunday in August. A couple with three kids and three golden retrievers saw the open house sign and stopped by, and asked if they could bring their dogs in with them. They said that they–the dogs–were part of the family and they–the humans–wanted to see if they–the dogs–liked the house, because–they–the humans valued their dogs’ opinion. Obviously, my BS meter peaked and I politely told them they could not bring the dogs in. While the people were getting in their car to leave, the owner happened to call regarding something totally unrelated. I told her the story of the folks who were about to leave, and she said to run out and get them and let them see the house with the dogs. Turns out, the owner had just lost her dog to cancer a few weeks earlier and thought it good karma. Well, the dogs must have approved, because we had an accepted offer from this family by noon the next day. They are all still alive and well at the same property today. –Bill Williams, Compass

I like holding open houses. You never know what is going to happen or who you are going to meet. From people running in from the beach and asking where the bathroom is, to families picking out the colors of their children’s rooms. In my experience, neither group is ever the buyer you are hoping for. I have seen known billionaires drive up in small compact cars and teenagers driving Rolls-Royce convertibles. My favorite story is when a young man came on a bike, wearing torn shorts and flip-flops, and purchased my first listing for $15.5 million. Only in the Hamptons. –Alan Schnurman, Saunders & Associates

Years ago, I represented an incredible new house with a 1.5-acre property in Sagaponack south, which was built alongside a 34-acre reserve. In the finished lower level of this house was an incredible kids’ amusement park that included pinball machines, an assortment of other games and adult toys including a kid-sized trampoline with side nets for protection. When the open house ended, I did a sweep of the house to make sure everyone had left. Lo and behold I found a very tall female broker jumping up and down on the trampoline, who was very reluctant to leave. The sight of that broker in the kid-sized trampoline is still with me today and still makes me smile. –Gary DePersia, The Corcoran Group

The strangest open house experience I had was when a couple of women came to preview a home. They said it was very nice, but not for them, and left. Sometime later, I happened to look out the window, and one of the women was digging up flowers in the flowerbed. I went outside and said, “Excuse me?” And she said, “Oh? These flowers are so unusual, I thought you wouldn’t mind if I took some samples.” –John Christopher, Sotheby’s International

During a hot spell, I once hired an ice cream truck to come to my brokers’ open house for free ice cream. I’ve found free food and great raffles bring brokers out in droves for a tour of my new exclusives. Then they can go back to their offices and tell their buyers how great the house is! –Aimee Martin, Saunders & Associates