BluefoxToday blog : What to Wear When Shopping For a Distressed Property!

What to Wear When Shopping For a Distressed Property!

My Shoes

I wear blue jeans and casual shoes that are made of cloth and can go in the washer.  To some people, they may think I lack professionalism but if they could encounter what I encounter, as we never know what treasure we will find when we open a door, it will all be forgiven.  Walk a mile in my shoes and learn what to wear (and what you will may encounter) while shopping what is termed "Distressed Property" (REO, Foreclosures, Short Sales.)

From tip toe-ing through pigeon turds & cockroach carcasses and breathing in mold in between (let's not forget elements too) here is a guide on what to wear when searching for an REO or short sale:

Don't bring children if you don't have to!  It would mortify me if brown bear or blannie touched the floor in some of these homes - and I am not the best housekeeper in the world.

Dress for the Elements!  Make sure you are dressing appropriate for the weather.  Distressed property may lack heating or air conditioning.  I would say it is socially acceptable to wear shorts and tank tops in the summer for now while searching for homes.  Bring water in your car to stay hydrated.  In the winter, even though we don't see severely cold winters, make sure you layer up with sweaters and extra pairs of socks.

Be aware of potentially hazardous situations (while this isn't "the norm":)

Squatters:  This does not happen as frequently as it used to.  For the most part, with the market being extremely hot and homes receiving multiple offers + list agent checks and weekly preservation checks, odds of running into a squatter are a little less what they were even a year ago!  Active listings are generally getting multiple visits per day. 

Smells:  Sometimes smells in vacant homes can be overwhelming.  Many times it is due to the fact that someone used the toilet when the water is off.

Mold:  Persons highly allergic to mold should bring face masks when looking at homes to avoid breathing in mold spores. 

Pests:  If cockroaches bug you, you shouldn't be living in Las Vegas!  Many times pest control has been called in after the foreclosure so usually there are just dead bugs everywhere.

Water Damage:  Wear non-skid comfortable shoes. 

Lights Out:  It isn't safe to look by flashlight in homes that do not have electricity.  It is important to schedule appointments during daylight hours.

Trash:  I see it a lot pre-list but now agents are doing a better job at cleaning out their properties but it is still possible (although more rare) to find personal belongings in REO properties.  You will run into trash if you are looking at short sales.  Sometimes the property hasn't been cleaned in years.  There are some that I wonder if they were ever cleaned since they were built.

Green Pools:  Stagnant water sources breed diseases and most notably become a great breeding ground for mosquitos that could bring a concern for West Nile Virus.

green pool

dead bugs (bees)


More than ever, it is important to work with real estate professionals who know this market to help spot potential hazards because you never know what is hiding behind that closed door!  


Thanks,  Renée Burrows 702-580-1783 Broker/Owner, REALTOR®


copyright 2006-2013 Renee Burrows, REALTOR®, Savvy Home Realty Solutions  702-966-2494

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Comment balloon 102 commentsRenée Donohue~Home Photography • February 27 2010 05:11PM


Oh the glamorous life of a Real Estate Professional :-)  Great job on spelling out the hidden hazards and what to expect when shopping for these homes Renee!

Posted by Mary Douglas, REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado) about 10 years ago


I like the shoes; I have a pair like that. Talk about Glamour and real estate.

Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) about 10 years ago

Great List,

I've even seen dead birds in some of the houses.   Most buyers never have a flash light. They assume the electric is on.

Posted by Deborah Wilson, Stark County OH Real Estate (Hackenberg Realty Group) about 10 years ago

Renee, can I get those shoes in mauve.  Please let me know who your designer is?  Thanks!

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) about 10 years ago

Renee, You have it on the money...this is not the job for the faint of heart.  We have seen racoons.  Talk about squatters! And, they really don't like to be disturbed from whatever they were doing.  Yikes.  Don't bring the children. 

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) about 10 years ago

LOL! I wear cowboy boots!

Posted by Vanessa Reilly, domoREALTY, Homes for Sale - Atlanta (domoREALTY) about 10 years ago

Great post Renee,

I could see people being disgusted over many issues with abandoned homes. Smells alone can build-up fast, especially with pest droppings. If the house had the HVAC off for awhile, PU, that will get really bad.

Just a thought; for those homes that have been vacant with stagnant pool water. Bring a couple of those mosquito dunks with you on the next walk though and toss them in the pool. Dunks may help with the local population of those bloodsuckers (mosquitoes). Check back every few weeks and and another dunk. Come summer I'm going to keep a few in my car.


Posted by T Doe about 10 years ago

Renee - Thanks for sharing, ome great suggestions.  A real estate agents we see it all with foreclosures.

Posted by Jared Hokanson, Your Home Sold, GUARANTEED!* (Hokanson Realty & Jared Realty Group) about 10 years ago

I've been meaning to buy branded hand sanitizers to hand out to buyers on the way out to look at these homes.  I too were jeans and comfy shoes to show property these days.

Posted by Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh, A doctor who makes house calls. (Century 21 New Millennium) about 10 years ago

Hey I wear wash and wear and sneakers to show ALL the houses I show.  Even some of the most upscale lake homes have duck poop on the docks and walkways and in the grass and we have GA red clay everywhere and bugs get into weekend homes too.  I love being able to just toss my clothes in the wash when I get home if I've been in one of "those" houses that makes you feel all itchy and creeped out.  I do "dress" for meetings and closings.  I've often had clients say "you clean up well"

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) about 10 years ago


Distressed properties are certainly not the ones where you leave your shoes at the door!

Interestingly enough, when I took my wife to see the condo that we bought and still live in, I was wearing a tuxedo (that story will be saved for another time or another blog post).

Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) about 10 years ago

Yikes! PLEASE no kiddies when showing distressed. Homes without heat and air functioning enhance outdoor conditions, i.e. colder and warmer than outside temps. My first test opening the door is, sniff, ughhh, lets walk  perimeter and let this air out. Finally, ALWAYS go first into rooms so you are the one hitting the spider webs!!!!

Posted by Frank & Jodi Orlando (Frank & Jodi Orlando Get Us A Home Realty Atlanta Homes Sale) about 10 years ago

Mary:  NO DOUBT (re:glamorous!)

Tom:  hee hee!

Deborah:  Even if we do have a flashlight or two or three, it isn't safe to look via flashlight ;)

Kevin:  Designer is Sketchers, LOL!

Suzanne:  The one I encounter wasn't pleased to be interrupted either!

Vanessa:  I like the concept ;)

Thomas:  I have never heard of those!  Our health department has been putting mosquito egg eating fish in the pools!

Jared:  And seriously, just when we think we have seen it all, we see something new!  What's up with that?

Dr Stacey-Ann:  That is a briliant!

Tammy:  hahaha @ you cleaning up well!

Mike:  YIKES @ gash!  FYI, the last picture I posted was an reo pre list and one of those emotionally scarring moments that you brought up.

Brian:  Can't wait to hear the story!  No, I would not remove my shoes at many of the nasty properties even if my life depended on it.

Frank & Jodi:  LOL @ letting it air out!.  I can't believe how many people bring children!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) about 10 years ago

Renee, GREAT post, THANK YOU! I have heard that too -- I don't wear jeans every day, but if I am going into these types of properties, you better bet I am! That, and good shoes that can be washed as well. I am highly allergic to mold, so sometimes I can't even really go in!

Posted by Marney Kirk, Towson, Maryland Real Estate (Cummings & Co. Realtors) about 10 years ago

Marney:  SAME SAME with mold - my sinuses swell and I break out in hives.  When I open the door and the play-doh-ish smell wafts out, I run in to look really quick and tell the buyers I will wait outside!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) about 10 years ago

Great information, its important to watch out for dogs. Wearing jeans is a good idea and comfrontable shoes is a must.

Posted by Niema Thomas, CDPE, SFR, MBA (Century 21 Beachside) about 10 years ago

I feel like their mother saying, 'don't touch anything!'  And always leave the front door open, after we go in.

I do carry a box of baby wipes in my car - and usually pass them out when we get back in. 

Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (Desert Gold Realty - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) about 10 years ago

I enjoyed reading your perspective, Renee.  I prefer to wear heavy workboots and thick jeans with heavy sweatshirts.  Recent finds have  included a dead flying squirrel and floor boards on upper floors broken through to below.

Tomorrow I will experience some evicted tenants who are less than happy to move out.  My showing instructions:

House #1:  Don't be concerned about the person on the sofa face down who doesn't move at all-he or she is NOT dead!  

House #2:  Watch out for the pack of pit bulls and over 10 cats.  Do NOT go near the younger dogs or the mother will attack.  DO NOT GO INTO THE HOUSE IF DOGS ARE THERE BUT NOT THE PEOPLE!!!  Watch where you step!

I will advise my buyers of these instructions and see if they still want to view the properties.  Could be an interesting day tomorrow!!!


Posted by Bruce Walter (Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana) about 10 years ago

Hey...those look like my listings!!! I think we need to keep a haz mat suit in the trunk.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) about 10 years ago

I love the basement turned pool in a listing that I stepped into as I led the buyers down the dark steps.  The flashlight worked, but the dark floor started to ripple as my foot hit the water.  Fun. Thankfully I was not in the suit and dress shoes.

Posted by Robert Earl -The Earl of St Pete, The Earl of St. Pete (St Pete LUXE Living Group) about 10 years ago

Renee - Love the wash and wear shoes.  There are some properties I've been in that I'd prefer to be wearing a set of scrubs in so I could throw them in the nearest trash bin. :)

Posted by Julie Dumaine-Russell (RE/MAX Alliance) about 10 years ago

A branded Tyvek outfit maybe? One of the oddest things (not icky) I've seen several times is people taking ALL the fixtures with them when they leave. Also toilets too. I can handle just about anything but a really bad smell. Great post.

Posted by Joseph Keech (Blue Atlantic Properties) about 10 years ago

Renee, good post.  It is amazing how much colder a house can be inside than outside during the winter months when the house has not been heated for a long period of time.    Good solid shoes are a must and extra batteries. ----Gloria

Posted by Gloria Todor, & Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA (Century 21 Absolute Realty ) about 10 years ago

This is an excellent description of what we see. But I think anyone has to visit a few of the homes to truly grasp what you are describing. 

Many a buyer has contacted me to say that 'they want to buy a foreclosure.'  One or two days of looking at REO properties, and they are ready to move on to something in fair to good condition, even if they have to pay more.

Sarah in Nashville  

Posted by Sarah, John Rummage, Love Being Realtors® in the Nashville TN Area! (Benchmark Realty LLC, Nashville TN 615.516.5233) about 10 years ago

Ha!  Too funny, or maybe not!

  I enjoyed the post today.



Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) about 10 years ago

Ah yes, what a glamorous life we lead!  Nothing like leaving a house and still smelling like it!  When considering comfy shoes-- never, ever wear sandals!  Walked right into a house with feces all over the carpet.  Now THAT'S a mistake you don't make twice! 

Posted by Michele Rose, Burlington County Home Staging & Redesign (Rose-Colored Staging) about 10 years ago

I have been through some homes I wouldn't let my dog go in. Seriously, some of these homes are left in RIDICULOUS shape. The junk and trash strewn everywhere.

Thank you

Posted by Scott Baker, Realtor Homes for Sale in Cincinnati, West Chester, Mason, OH Area ( Coldwell Banker West Shell) about 10 years ago

Being a professional is knowing how to dress for whatever occasion before us. In this business we certainly called on to wear many hats and dress accordingly.

Posted by Linda Powers, On the Outer Banks (Resort Realty - Duck) about 10 years ago

Fantastic post! I finally learned to "dress down" while showing these properties, and buyers have been more than understanding. What is found in some of these homes is simply unimaginable.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) about 10 years ago

Renee - Thankfully we don't have too many REO's where I work and a majority of the short sales are well maintained.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) about 10 years ago

I know folks think we make this stuff up - like homeowners taking kitchen cabinets, door knobs, light switches etc, but who needs fantasy when we have reality!  Hey, maybe there is a show in this?



Posted by Michael Bergin, Northern Virginia Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - ABR - SRES ) about 10 years ago

I showed a foreclosure property two days ago that I had not previewed and as soon as I got home my clothes went into the washer and I went into the shower. 

Posted by Tanya Connie, Myrtle Beach Real Estate (Sun Rise Real Estate ) about 10 years ago

Niema:  It is very important to watch out for dogs!  I was in a short sale listing once and the agent told me "the dog is sweet and sounds vicious but wouldn't harm anyone".  That thing was bouncing off the slider and I swear it wanted a "piece of me". 

Virginia:  LMAO @ being the mother.  I took my teenage son through many a pre-list and he really learned from seeing the aftermath and consequences of foreclosure.

Bruce:  No two days are alike right now in this business.  What if you come home with a baby pit bull?  LOL!

BB:  SERIOUS!  I could see TLW driving you around on her pimped out golf cart and you putting on the superman haz-mat before you enter each listing.  She would sit there ready to use her gun until you come back safely.  ROARRRRRRRRRR

Robert:  OMG I am SERIOUSLY happy that we don't have basements here.

Donna:  Hmmmmmmmmmm tear away scrubs.  Wonder if anyone looking to market something to real estate agents here will develop that!

Joseph:  LMAO @ branded Tyvek!  Mine would say "SHACK DIVA" all over it!  My favorite isn't the missing fixtures - it's the missing stupid stuff like light socket covers.  Please!  What can you get for those on the resale market?

Gloria:  You are absolutely right on that one!  We heat up nicely during the day most winter days but our nights are cold.  I go from 50 or 60 degrees outside to 30 or 40 degrees inside!

Sarah:  Most REO is decent here because of the nature of the boom w/ newer subdivisions.  It is rare you get into a real stinker.  Most people throw in the towel on REO here because of the multiple offers and few concessions offered!

Patricia:  Laughter is the best medicine and there is a joke around every corner here!  Gotta use humor to get through this!

Michele:  EWWWWW!  Yes, thanks for the addition to make sure the shoes the buyers are wearing are NOT open toed shoes!  Excellent addition!

Scott:  Amen to that (letting my dogs in some of these homes!)

Linda:  We play superman plenty of days!

Peggy:  Unimaginable is a good word to describe it!

Michelle:  You are a lucky gal !

Michael:  HA!  That would be great to have a show in this.  I am contemplating a video blog and thought about doing a day in the life thing.  Unfortunately I sometimes refrain from writing or posting about certain things/situations to protect the best interest of my clientele!  One time I was doing a REO pre-list BPO and the teeny tiny 10x10 kitchen (including cabinets) was missing YET every window had GORGEOUS plantation shudders.  Didn't get why the kitchen was gone when there was probably more street value in those shudders?

Sandy:  :hazmatsuittime:

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) about 10 years ago

So true, so true. I listed a foreclosed property once that was flea infested.  I finally convinced the bank to rip out the carpets and treat for fleas.  No one wanted to go in there.  It was sooooooo gross.  Just thinking about it makes me itch again.

Posted by Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 305.81.HOUSE (46873), GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay | (eXp Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

just don't wear what Hannah Storm wore last week on Sportscenter.

Posted by Mike Russell, Overland Park Kansas Real Estate (Mike Russell & Associates) about 10 years ago

Great article!!

Posted by ERIKA CARTER (Real People Realty ) about 10 years ago

Renee, Total Truth...I Love It.  I started carrying a "european shoulder bag" :)  Armed with a Mag Light, Off Wipes, Purell, FACE MASKS (for allergic buyers) Peppermint Gum and a Measuring Tape.  I tell buyers to Dress Down and Dress Comfy.   The Gum is mainly for me since I quit the Cigs.  :) 

Posted by Michael J. Gallo, Florida Luxury Realty - Gulf Home Sales Team (Florida Luxury Realty) about 10 years ago

Renee,  Every once in a while there's a post that comes along that is so,so funny yet so true  TX. =)

Posted by Angela Carosi, Realtor (631) 827-0815, Long Island Suffolk County (Keller Williams Realty Homes and Estates, Smithtown/Hauppauge) about 10 years ago

Renee, you feel like you need to tiptoe thru but there are no tulips in these kind of places. You want a shower just for showing them. Reblogged  this for sure! We work hard for our money. It takes guts to go in some of these places. Or masks!

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge about 10 years ago

Do you have one of these cute little numbers hanging in your closet ;-)

Hazmat Suit Tychem Br Chemical Protective Clothing Smx1

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) about 10 years ago
It sounds like you and I have been showing the same houses ; ) And, don't forget the hand sanitizer even if you only touch the doorknobs.
Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 10 years ago

Hey Renee! I have seen some real messes (and damage) in foreclosures. Thanks for sharing your photos.

Posted by Vickie Nagy, Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate) about 10 years ago

You forgot to mention the rats! Yuck! I can pretty much deal with most of the rest, but the rats send me running....forever. There are no "be-backs" to a rat house.

Posted by Elva Branson-Lee, CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent (Solid Source Realty GA) about 10 years ago

Great post, Renee...  In Texas...we wear boots most the time.  At least I do.  I learned the hard way once when I wore heels to show an acreage property and they asked to walk the boundaries.  Holy tamolie...  What a mess.  Dress for the situation and show your clients that you know what to expect by telling them to dress the same way... 


Posted by Claire Record (Keller Williams Realty--Boerne Hill Country) about 10 years ago

Renee: I've been asked to look at distressed homes for investors and flippers, to advise if they can be fixed up for a reasonable amount of money. I always dress as if I'm going on a construction site. I've stepped on piles of trash and had rats run out. I've pulled nails that were poking up from broken boards from out of my shoes, and I even broke through the floor once where the boards and joists had rotted out. Fortunately, it was only a 1 story house and the crawl space was only about 3' tall. Scared the heck out of me though. Now I'm much more cautious.

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) about 10 years ago

Hey Renee - thanks for the post and pictures.  It is amazing what we see sometimes.  I'm with Claire and the boots!

Posted by Paula McDonald ~ GRI, Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Beam & Branch Realty) about 10 years ago

Great tips. Many moons ago, we went house hunting for one to flip and we ran into some squatters in the house. It was unexpected experience and was scary at first. It is true, you don't know what is behind the door and better be prepare for anything.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) about 10 years ago

I keep one or two bottles of hand sanitizer in my car.  I have thought about keeping a box of rubber gloves in my car.   I see someone else (#36) mentioned the fleas.  It's making me itch just thinking about it.  I have also carried a can of mosquito spray for when I am out showing wooded property.

Posted by Pam Simpson, GRI, Broker-Assoc. (Bob Leigh & Assoc., LLC) about 10 years ago

I bet your pictures don't even show the half of it. do you get hazardous duty pay when you are looking at these properties?

Posted by Guy Thomas (WR Starkey Mortgage) about 10 years ago

I love comment #42.  It always amazes me when I show these homes.  Buyers really don't believe us when we tell them what to expect when it comes to the condition of distressed sales.

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (RE/MAX Executives) about 10 years ago

I showed a house this afternoon that had a tricked out area that I guess had all the stuff stored from a ver elaborate halloween "haunted house", they weird stuff that was left is there was so very disturbing. Messed up maniquins... we could not get out of there fast enough! It was creapy on so many different levels.

Posted by Amy Law (Alliance Properties) about 10 years ago


Michael:  Oh God No, I am one of those 40 something broads.  You may get to see some muffin top whale tail if I bend over too low and am wearing low riders.

Erika:  THANKS!

Michael:  AKA the "man purse"? :wink:

Angela:  I am here for your amusement ;)

Cheryl:  You ain't lying about the lack of tulips!

Carla:  Not yet, LMAO!

Christine:  LOL!  You can just look at a door and tell the knob is germ infested!

Vickie:  OH there is more!  I am going to go through my laptop and start saving the really good ones.  My favorite was a short sale that was a guinea pig rescue.  The critters were allowed to roam the house too!

Elva:  Safe to say I haven't encountered rats.........yet..........looking for some wood to knock on!

Claire:  Amen sister!

Michelle:  OMG I am glad you were OK from that situation!

Paula:  I am kind of digging the cowboy boots suggestions!

Mike:  True that!

Pam:  Excellent Idea about mosquito spray.........although technically it isn't a "problem" in my area but you never know!

Guy:  LOL no hazard pay!  It isn't the half of it.  It isn't the 1% of it even!

Tamara:  You are true there (with buyers not believing us until they experience it!)

Amy:  Even if it isn't hazardous we definitely run into situations that are psychological damaging!!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) about 10 years ago

Renee, Having spent most of my afternoon today showing REO, and then to read your blog, You must have read my mind!!  The visual of skeletial mouse and a family of racoons.  The SMELL is what I can't seem to get rid of tonight!!!   Glamorous indeed!!!

Posted by Angela Clark, CRS, Realtor, Broker (Tony Clark REALTORS) about 10 years ago

Hi Renee, I don't wear cloth shoes, but I do dress in jeans and wear athletic shoes.  I bring flashlights, toilet paper, bottled water and disinfectant hand wipes.  You never know what you will encounter, and I want my clients to be able to see everything without feeling creeped out by the dirt.  Also, if the power is off, some rooms are too dark to see without a flashlight.  I make sure each member of our party has a ight, so we don't have to be joined at the hip during the tour.

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) about 10 years ago

Excellent advice, Renee. Looking at Short Sales and REOs CAN be hazardous with many surprises. There are some homes where I do not even want to walk through in my shoes.

I never try to take folks home touring after dark - you can miss too much and you never know if the power will be out.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California) about 10 years ago

Renee, you never know what you'll find in a short sale or foreclosure.  I've found dead animals and squatters.  Funny, the squatters give the impression we are the trespassers!

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) about 10 years ago

Love the shoes, Renee!!!  I keep an old pair of boots in my car for the unexpected.  If we've had a good rain...there's no way I'm tromping around in my nice shoes to show homes.  I'd be scared to death if we walked in on a squatter.  Sure as I say'll happen this week, right!??

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) about 10 years ago

Great post!  Most of the time I want to go home immediately and take a shower to remove the known and unknown contaminents I came in contact with while showing the property.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) about 10 years ago

I love trying to guess how long it will take some buyers to give up the idea of a foreclosure or short sale - they are not for the faint of heart! and in the winter I am so tired of being cold, working in the dark, and without the benefit of toilets!

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC (Keller Williams Capital Properties) about 10 years ago

Yes, the smell...and it gets in your nose, and you can smell it the rest of the day...YUK!

Posted by Pat Tasker, Your Milwaukee Metro Area Agent (WI) (Shorewest Realtors) about 10 years ago

Nice post - always helps to present the life of a realtor in a humorous way!

Posted by R.E. Renée Hoover, Salesperson, Poconos, Pike, Wayne, Monroe Counties, PA; PA/NYS (Century 21 Geba Realty, Milford, PA; Licensed in PA & NYS) about 10 years ago

Steel soled boots are almost a requirement as well, I'm always finding nails sticking up out of unfinished floors.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Angela:  HA!  Bet you didn't want to come home and READ about your days experiences did you?

Susan:  You are more brave than I if you do tours after dark!

Jeff:  LOL we are reverting back to the haz-mat suit!

Kay:  LOL it is so true about the squatters!

Sonja:  Find lots of wood and knock on it for 5 straight minutes or until your knuckles bleed!  I thought I was out of the woods until I ran into that last spring!

Sharon:  I am giggling at "known and unknown contaminants"  thanks for the belly chuckle!

Lise:  I always tell them the fun doesn't even BEGIN until the escrow period.  The looking is just the "easy stuff".

Pat:  It is icky isn't it!

Renee (love the name!)  I try!  I have lots of rules with my buyers.  You would probably like the way I inject the humor in the not so funny situations!

Todd:  True and out in yards that are unfinished too!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) about 10 years ago

Renee- Sounds like a lot of the REO homes here in Los Angeles & Ventura counties and those are just the ones that I've personally seen.  My Realtor friends and my clients tell me the horror stories of so many others they see.  It's just absolutely disgusting that bank sellers put these run-down, dilapidated dumps on the market.

Posted by Donne Knudsen, CalState Realty Services (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA) about 10 years ago

It's true you never know what you'll to be prepared for the worst.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Boots, gloves, mask....

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) about 10 years ago

The worst house I've been in during my time in South Florida is nowhere near as bad as the BEST house I looked at buying in Philadelphia.  The difference is beyond belief.  While in Philly, we would open the front door and sometimes almost fall into the basement from the derelict condition of the home;  rotted joists, no roof for the past 10 years, caved in stairs, etc.  The worst home down here has a little mold and needs a good cleaning, never anything structural.

What a difference. 


Scott Miller, Realty Associates, Boca Raton, FL

Posted by Scott Miller, (Best Connections Realty) about 10 years ago


The best thing for a home is to be lived in. The worst thing for a home is not ...

We worked a  project for a couple of years. The cockroaches were so bad it was hard for us to get the pest contractor to come. LOL

Posted by Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain (Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain) about 10 years ago

Several great points here Renee. Some of these homes are pretty bad.

Posted by Roland Woodworth, Q Realty - Power In Real Estate (Q Realty) about 10 years ago

Hi Renee,

Love the shoes...Maybe I could scare up some of the "barrier room gear" I used to use in sterile facilities....Complete with scrub caps, gowns, booties for the shoes and a mask and latex gloves...That should do it!  Better yet, listing agents can have these available at the front door and a hazardous waste bin at the exit to dispose of them.  I wouldn't suggest a Hazmat suit - that's just too overdressed for the occasion.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) about 10 years ago

Mushrooms growing out of the carpeting - not just a fine layer of fungi - toadstools!

Posted by Pat, Ben and Martin Mullikin (M3 Realty) about 10 years ago

Woow.  With all those savory pictures, I do hope I don't have to deal with distress that looks like that.  Yet you make a good point which is dress appropriate for the situation.  You may be over dressing by the look of some of these photos.

Posted by Frank Castaldini, Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco (Compass) about 10 years ago

Hi Renee.  Great post, it is both humorous and sadly true.  I always carry a flashlight, with extra batteries when going to an REO, and I always keep hand sanitizer in my toolkit.

Posted by Gary Swanson (Century 21 Harris & Taylor) about 10 years ago

Renee-  Great post!  I live in WI, so I always have a shovel, snowboots and all the cold weather gear.  I actually went through one home that was a short sale nearing foreclosure that was infested with fleas.  When we left the house, we discovered this fact by realizing that our pants, socks and shoes were covered in them.  We had to stop on the side of the road and brush off as best we could and immediately head home for a shower and laundry!

Posted by Jen Olson (First Weber Group Realtors) about 10 years ago

I actually fell in a pretty deep pond one time that looks a bit like the pool above....  First week of real estate 6 years ago....  Weak rocks located around the pond and in I went with $150.00 shoes and a nice suit!  ruined! and very embaressed...  Luckily it was just a few other agents around and not a client....  My point, it is jeans all the way for me!

Posted by Barbara Kornegay, Wilmington NC Real Estate, Homes (REMAX Essential) about 10 years ago

I learned awhile ago that if my clients are looking for an agent who is dressed up for a cocktail party then they need to look elsewhere.  When it comes to touring foreclosures you are going to get jeans.  The car has a REO kit which includes hand sanitzer, flea spray, flashlights and a few other goodies.  If I smell mold though I don't go in as it is to high risk for health hazzards.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

Those shoes are for selling ice cream. . not foreclosures and short sales.. .you are crazyyy 

I recommend steel toe boots for you. . the pointed ones so you can still kill a cockroach when it gets in the corner.


Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) about 10 years ago

I have been chased by bats, bees and UFO's when showing distress property. So, I go prepared to make a hasty retreat many times it is a neck to neck race who can reach the door the quickest when being chased. So, going dressed to the nines is not an option.

One home that I showed the water was left on and the house was floored. I wonder when the listing was out there last.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) about 10 years ago


Dress for success takes on a new meaning for abandoned homes! Don't forget a ton of wet-wipes.

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) about 10 years ago

When I got into the business in 1989 Oklahoma was like Las Vegas now, a lot of repos. The one thing you can't completely prepare for is fleas. I made sure I wore high boots so at least i could save the ankles. Those little buggers are fierce!

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) about 10 years ago

I am surprised that NAR has not written standards of practice for showing distressed properties to buyers.  Some agents take almost every precaution possible while others take none.

Until there are uniform protocols for showings, entering of REO homes will be a high liability endeavor.


Posted by Glen Fisher (National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC) about 10 years ago

Hey I have those shoes too! :)

I always refer to my glamorous RE job! Sometimes 'nondistressed' properties are pretty bad too. And I had to LMAO about the cockroaches. Desert equals bugs. When I lived in Palm Springs, one of my colleagues was running down the sidewalk in panic from a date beetle, didn't see the curb, fell off it and broke his arm . . . (giggle)

Posted by Candice A. Donofrio, 928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text (Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker) about 10 years ago

I liked this blog..I agree you dress for the market and the type of property you are showing. I showed homes in Baltimore where you had to have a screw gun to take off the board of what would be called the front door. I would wear my boots and usually jeans on those days and if I wore slacks and loafers my clients would look at me funny. Like don't I know the type of property we are looking at. Good tip. Stuart

Posted by Stuart Berman (Ben Kona) about 10 years ago

I always get a kick when the unsuspecting want to see those "distressed" houses. They follow me to the house and I do not park in the driveway. That has saved me many a tire changes. Sometimes I do not even enter the house. I just open the door for them. When they come out holding their nose, I point out the fleas that are covering them. That is usually enough to stop the "tlc and paint" thinking they got in their head. Distressed is DISTRESSED.

I like Carla's outfit. Having one of those to put on would most likely save me a lot of time.

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) about 10 years ago

This is how many come across. I love this post

Posted by Claude Cross, Charlotte NC Homes For Sale (Homes By Cross, Inc. ) about 10 years ago

Great advice Renee! I have a change of shoes in my trunk for houses that appear questionable. Although you never know what lies behind closed doors! The home could look just fine on the outside but really scary on the inside. I can tell from some of the comments left here some agents really have no idea (and lucky for them to work in a state with few foreclosures and short sales) how terrible some REO's, etc, really are here in Nevada.

Posted by Terrie Leighton, Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno (Ferrari-Lund Real Estate ) about 10 years ago

Re-blogged, need I say more ;-)

Posted by Daniel J. Hunter (REALTOR®) about 10 years ago

Great post. Depending on one's client, blue jeans and sneakers may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks.


Posted by Cal Yoder, Homes For Sale in Lancaster PA - 717.413.0744 (Keller Williams Elite) about 10 years ago

Yeah, it can really be disgusting...yet people always seems surprised (???)

Posted by Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR (Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA) about 10 years ago


I have seen from what I thought some pretty disgusting places but I'm happy to say I have not encountered that I know what they are! LOL!! I clicked on the link to take me to your squatter post. 

Silly as it may sound but the first time I entered a REO, I looked around thinking to myself...who lives like this?  Never mind the mess of garbage on the floors, the writing on the walls, the stench of urine or some other animal feces but unfortunately I learned that  the first home I questioned was actually the best REO I ever showed. 

I cringe when leaving a house and another agent is coming with their buyers and I see a child in tow.  I have actually said to them, I wouldn't let her/him walk around in there, its better if you leave the teddy bear in the car, etc.



Posted by Gina Chirico, Real Estate Agent - Essex County, New Jersey (Lattimer Realty) about 10 years ago

I totally agree you have to have certain attire when shopping for distressed or any other type of properties. 

Boots and be covered and not your best garments no matter the price.  It's also funny to me when someone

over dresses to see a million dollar+ property.  It doesn't show me you can afford it.  It shows you are trying

too hard.  I save the good stuff for the closing.  When I am collecting the check :-)

Posted by Gena Brown, Catalyst Gold REII (Catalyst Gold REII) about 10 years ago

It isn't just distressed porperties...  I was showing lake porperties and had a snobby agent that looked like she was going to the opera that had to show my buyer one of her listings.  She looked kind of dumb trying to walk across wet grass down to the dock...  Looked dumber trying to walk back up the hill in the rain. 


Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) about 10 years ago

I actually saw an agent the other day sweeping out a home in her Sunday best.  I would never call you unprofessional -- more like smart -- for wearing these clothes. 

Posted by Jim & Maria Hart, Charleston, SC Real Estate (Brand Name Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Renee - So true ! It is what it is.  One needs to plan ahead.  Had a settlement this past week for a junker property where I waded through the basement for the walk-through to get the water meter reading.

Posted by The Somers Team, Delivering Real Estate Happiness (The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia) about 10 years ago


This a must list for anyone looking to buy a distressed property in Vegas these days. The buyer should also wear an attitude to match what might be awaiting.

Posted by Esko Kiuru about 10 years ago

Isn't it great what we run across... Sometimes totally unbelievable! Great post, great advice! Thanks!

Posted by Don Wixom, "Looking out for your next move..."tm (RE/MAX Executives Nampa, ID) about 10 years ago

I bought my first property years ago in Arizona.  It was infested with Black Widow spiders.  I did get a great price on it.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

SUPER ADVICE!  I also bring disinfecting hand wipes and have them out in the car...  Sometimes even they don't feel like enough and I can't wait to get home and take a shower.  

Posted by Debbie Summers (Charles Rutenberg Realty ) about 10 years ago

Renee, I could see that there are plenty of people who can relate with the conditions of those questionable houses.

I earlier mentioned the mosquito dunks for we can carry and drop into the stagnate pools. It dicourages the growth of larve. I heard of the fish that California was introducing to the pools of abandoned homes, kinda cool. Here in Illinois have other options, with hot and humid summers and many illnesses associated with the west-nile virus. Some stores carry the dunks, but you can find on-line as well.


Posted by T Doe about 10 years ago

Renee - I dress for what I am showing on a particular day.  And, I always carry hand sanitizer.  Unfortunately, even that doesn't seem like enough sometimes. Isn't it funny that some people think most Realtors show luxury homes and that it's a glamorous job? 

Posted by Carol Culkin, Overland Park (Reece & Nichols) about 10 years ago

My favorite title company started handing out purse size bottle of spray hand sanitizer to local agents.  They get snapped up quickly to help combat the ick factor.

Posted by Lisa Heindel, New Orleans Real Estate Broker (Crescent City Living LLC) about 10 years ago

Great post!  I stopped wearing open toed shoes as I toured some of our recent "gems" on the market.  Feel like I need a shower as soon as I'm done!

Posted by Amy Jones Group, 4 Time BEST OF OUR VALLEY Winner (South East Valley - about 10 years ago

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