The Wall Street JournalBy Amy Gamerman
Oct. 5, 2022
Q: Have you ever gotten locked in a home with potential buyers during a showing?
Chris Toland, associate real-estate broker, The Agency in New York City
I was with buyers at a new development in Brooklyn that was having an open house. We got there late. I think the open house ended at 4 p.m. and we got there at 3:45. It was a fairly small building, like 12 or 15 units. We spoke to a sales agent, took our tour, saw the model apartment.
The agent said, “If you want to see the other apartments, go on up, they’re open.” Pre-Covid, open houses weren’t as regulated as they are today.
It was still a construction site. The elevator wasn’t working, so we had to go up the stairs to see a unit on one of the higher floors.
I don’t think we were up there long. When we came downstairs, it was five or 10 minutes after the end of the open house, and there was not a living soul anywhere. It was like as soon as that open house was over, they ran.
The building was in this yard behind a chain-link fence, with a giant chain with a big padlock. Not only had the developers’ agents left, they had locked us in. The fence was high, over 10 feet. It was there to keep people out of the lot.
I called the sales office. I called the listing agent. I’m calling all over. I’m figuring the agents must still be in the area. But I couldn’t reach anybody. It was amusing for a bit, but the buyers were a young couple with a little daughter, who was at home with a babysitter. They said, “Look, we need to get out of here.”
Ultimately we decided to call the Fire Department. We needed someone to come chop this lock. I called 911 and said, “Look, this isn’t really an emergency, but could you send two guys with an ax?” And then, of course, we hear sirens. Two trucks came. They chopped the padlock and let us out.
The couple didn’t buy that apartment, and I never heard from the developers’ agent. I don’t remember anybody ever calling to say, at the very least, “What the hell happened to my lock?”
Mike Fabbri, real-estate agent, Nest Seekers International in New York City
It was a penthouse in the Flatiron district—a beautiful duplex with a huge terrace. I was the buyers’ agent. The clients were a young couple, both in tech, moving here from San Francisco. They had tech money. They wanted the penthouse cachet, they wanted to be in Flatiron, and they wanted outdoor space. They loved the duplex, except the private outdoor terrace didn’t have the views and the light they wanted. It faced north.
That was their one issue. So that’s why I said, “Why don’t we go up to the common roof? It’s only a floor above you, and it has the full 360-degree view.” We took the elevator up one floor. Normally you would need a fob to unlock the door to the rooftop, but it had been left open for the showing; the door was ajar. The terrace was fully furnished with lounges, chairs, tables. I think there was an outdoor kitchen. It was a boutique condo building, so the amenities felt a lot more private.
The clients were taking in the views, they were so happy. They realized they could use this rooftop to have a party. I said, “You have the best of both worlds!”
Then all of a sudden, there was a gust of wind and the door shuts. I went over and tried to open the door. It wasn’t opening. I did some searching for the doorman’s number, to come help us. But I couldn’t find the building’s phone number online.
I was able to spin it, like, “Honestly, this is such a good thing! This building takes security very seriously—if anybody were to scale the building and get on the roof, they wouldn’t be able to get inside. And also, the building’s number isn’t listed publicly! That shows you this is a very discrete and private building.” But I was internally stressing.
I finally texted the listing agent, and she called the doorman to come let us out. They got to meet the doorman and we all had a laugh. Then we went back to the unit to see it one more time. They realized how much they loved it, and they bought it.
The buyers had a party in the summer that I went to. The party was in their unit, but then the guests went up to the roof. Everyone took a fob as they went—they had three or four of them hanging next to the door. I made a joke that I should have my own fob made.
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson