Moving and decluttering go hand in hand. After all, what better time to offload all those unwanted belongings than when you’re planning to sell and leave your home? But sometimes home sellers take their inner Marie Kondo a little too far.
From BDSM rooms to snow machines, there have been some epically wacky things that sellers have tried to get off their hands—even, in some cases, the family dog. (That’s ruff!)
Read on for some stories of seller add-ons that sound too wacky to be true—but aren’t.
A dungeon in the master bedroom
Sometimes you can hide the dungeon, and sometimes you can’t. In this instance Dean Ferraro, a real estate agent in Oceanside, CA, was on a listing appointment at a house that was curiously overpriced. Upon venturing into the home, he found out why: The owner had an adult play area built into the master bedroom (think dungeon).
The house was about $50,000 over market value, because the owner was adamant that his "Special" retreat added value.
“He refused to remove it, and he refused to lower the asking price,” Ferraro recalls. “He said he had invested a lot of money into it and was sure a buyer would enjoy it.”
The house sat on the market and, after six months, the owner caved and refashioned the room into an office, Ferraro says. It finally sold—at market value.
Amanda Schneider, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in East Setauket, NY, says she had some clients who were selling their property with an ass, “whether you wanted her or not!”
As it happened, this particular piece of real estate was a horse farm. The sellers were moving across the country and couldn’t take the donkey along, Schneider says. Fortunately, the sellers got another farm to adopt the animal just before the property sold.
A ski hill and snow machine
The Hamptons have been a favorite destination for the wealthy since the late 1800s. And rich people love to ski, right? That was the logic behind one seller’s attempt to offload a 40-foot-high, man-made ski hill complete with a homemade snow-making machine.
“He tried to get the buyers to pay for it,” says listing broker Palmer Gaget with Douglas Elliman in New York City.
It didn’t entirely work; the buyers made the seller remove the snow machine from the property (they kept the hill, however, and are quite proud of the unique feature).
A man-made snowy retreat wasn’t all this seller tried to pawn off.
“After the closing, the buyers came to their new home to find the seller had left his [two] cats on the front porch with food and note for them to keep them,” Gaget recalls. “I called the seller’s ex-wife, who came to get the cats immediately.”
And it turns out, unloading a pet with a home isn’t uncommon.
Four years ago, broker Sally Slater with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Bedford, NY, sold her horse farm. But there was one thing in the contract that Slater didn’t expect: The buyer wanted to keep the cat that was hanging around the barn and keeping it free of mice. “We agreed! It was really her home anyway,” she explains.
Another example: When Glenn S. Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty, went to buy his first home, the seller had attached a note to the contract. “It said, ‘See if he wants the little black dog,’” Phillips says. The sellers, it turned out, were feeding a stray pup that had been hanging around the property for several months. Phillips agreed and named the friendly canine Mikey the Mortgage Dog.
“He was an awesome dog! He would protect children [and two cats] from big people he didn’t know,” Phillips says. “Never trained him. He was just wired that way.”
A full-fledged S&M room
Lauren Muss, a broker with Douglas Elliman in New York City, had a listing where one particular room was a mix of both business and pleasure. Her client had “a full-on S&M room. Chains, whips, and dominatrix stuff,” she recalls. But even after the home went on the market, the client didn’t want to convert the beyond-“Fifty Shades of Grey” room into something easier to sell. (And who could blame him? Muss says the seller used the room for photo shoots at $10,000 a pop!)
So, during showings or open houses, Muss would keep the room locked and say it was for storage. That didn’t last long, though.
“I made him remove it after a month, because it would scare people away,” she says.