Real-estate agent, The Corcoran Group, Bridgehampton, N.Y.
I worked for 27 years as a hair colorist in Manhattan at some of the top Madison Avenue salons before going into real estate. Those are the people that either have homes in the Hamptons or want homes in the Hamptons, so it was a very good customer base to tap into. A lot of my hair-color clients transitioned into real-estate clients over the years, and this client was one of them.
She contacted me and said, “There’s a house in East Hampton that I would like to take a look at.” It was beautifully maintained, with an asking price just under $3 million. But one thing that was odd was that she and her boyfriend had specifically told me that they didn’t want a house with a pool, and this house had a pool.
She had roped me into getting her into that house to check things out.
Another thing that was unusual was that she brought a friend with her to see it. Most of the time when I showed her a house, it was with her boyfriend. They had been a couple for a while, probably 10 years.
When we arrived for the showing, the woman who owned the house was just leaving. The two of them kind of said hello to each other, but in a very uncomfortable way. After the showing, we were standing in the backyard with the sales agent and the customer said, “You know what? I’m just going to go back in and take another quick look around before we leave.”
She was inside for a few minutes longer than one would think for a quick look. As we were leaving, she said, “The owner of the house is my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. That’s why it was a little uncomfortable—I didn’t expect her to be there.”
I know a little background about this couple, and she’s the jealous type. She was a hair-color client, and customers do tell you a bit more than they would tell someone else. I put things together and thought, “Oh, now I get it.” I got the sense that she thought her partner and the ex were still seeing each other. She had roped me into getting her into that house to check things out. I don’t think she had any intention of buying, she just wanted to snoop.
I still do hair color and go into the city one day a week to do it. It keeps me in the game.
Ban H. Leow
Real-estate agent, Brown Harris Stevens, Brooklyn
We had a listing for a co-op in Fort Greene. The seller—who didn’t live in the co-op and wasn’t in a rush to sell–had a friend who was going through a contentious divorce, with a kid and a husband who wanted full custody.
Through the kindness of her heart, the seller says to her friend, “You know what? I’ve got a place available. Why don’t you stay there and just pay for utilities?”
We were not really very cool with that because we’d rather show a vacant property. But that was what the seller wanted so we said, “OK, just so she knows we need to have access to show the apartment.”
Then I get a phone call from a gentleman who said he was interested in buying the co-op for his daughter. He says, “I won’t be able to make it to the showing, but I’ll send my daughter.” We were like, “Sure.” He sounded genuine.
The daughter came to see the co-op. We didn’t suspect anything until two weeks later, when we were served a subpoena and I was told to appear in court. Apparently the “daughter” was a private investigator sent by the husband to report on the ex-wife’s living conditions. She filmed everything in the apartment. We didn’t know it, but she had a secret camera during the showing.
Because the apartment was a temporary stay and not fully furnished, the husband used that against the mother, like, “Our son was put in a very bad situation.”
And I’m responsible because I was the listing agent. He said there was evidence of other things: cards he claimed were sent by a boyfriend.
When I told the seller, she was livid. She called the husband and threatened to sue him. After that happened, his lawyer told us we didn’t have to show up in court. But we took the co-op off the market, because who knows what else he could do?
The couple went to court and have shared custody. It has been about a year and the seller is saying maybe she’ll put the co-op back on the market in the spring. If people come in on a pretext, we can’t control that. We have to adhere to fair housing rules.
—Edited from interviews
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