Halloween’s almost here—and with it, the usual ghost stories, haunted houses, and horror flicks. But what happens when Halloween meets real estate? Prepare yourself for chilling true stories and valuable career advice from two experienced agents.
Meet Erin Hybart, a solo real estate agent at Clients First Realty in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she’s spent the last six years serving investors and other clients. Hybart loves all things real estate, but she’s especially passionate about alternative housing, which she blogs about at ReErin.com.
You’ll also hear from Brie Schmidt, the owner and managing broker of Second City Real Estate in Chicago. With her experience as a real estate investor, she’s helped hundreds of other investors close their property deals. She’s also the co-founder of the Midwest Real Estate Networking Summit and CEO of ChicagoBrie, where she teaches other agents how to work with investors.
Ready for some real estate horror? Dim the lights, grab some popcorn, and read on as Hybart and Schmidt share the most terrifying encounters they’ve had in their real estate careers.
What’s the spookiest thing that’s ever happened to you in your career?
Hybart: The scariest thing that ever happened to me while working in real estate was when I was at a house in New Orleans recently purchased by an out-of-state investor. I knew the home had recently been used by squatters, so I was extra cautious while on the property.
While we were outside in the backyard, I heard a noise that sounded like fireworks and car tires squealing. It seemed odd to be popping fireworks during the day, so I went to the front yard to see if I could determine what was going on. I saw people walking down the sidewalk and a guy on a bike. I then started to smell gunpowder and realized what I heard was actually a drive-by shooting on the road in front of the next-door neighbor’s house, so I quickly left the property.
I was grateful I wasn’t in the front yard at the time because there were bullet casings all over the ground a few feet from my car.
Schmidt: I was looking to buy a property for myself, so I was alone in a vacant house. I was upstairs and heard someone open the front door downstairs. I called down, but nobody answered. I called down again with no response, but I heard movement below. I searched upstairs for a weapon, but all I could find was a closet rod, so I removed it from the wall.
I heard the person coming upstairs, so I hid behind the bedroom door waiting to attack. They walked into the room in a uniform, and I realized they weren’t an intruder. I yelled out, and the man identified himself as a city inspector. My heart was beating out of my chest, but I calmed down when I realized I wasn’t in danger.
Did this experience change the way you approach your business?
Hybart: I can’t say it changed me all that much, honestly. But I’m a little more aware of the areas I visit and make it a point to have someone with me when visiting certain properties. I’ve also pivoted out of certain areas for flip properties.
Schmidt: Nowadays, I always make sure to lock the doors behind me when entering a vacant house, even if my clients are present. I also carry pepper spray in my purse in case an intruder approaches me. I make sure my agents are up to date and informed about agent safety and our company policies regarding agent safety.
What advice would you give to other agents who face unexpected or scary encounters?
Hybart: There’s not much I could’ve done differently in my situation. In the neighborhood I was in, drive-by shootings are a regular occurrence.
For general advice to agents, I advise caution before going into neighborhoods you don’t know. Also, I always recommend knocking on the front door before a showing, whether the property is vacant or occupied. Announce yourself so that if, by chance, someone is inside the property, you won’t startle them.
Schmidt: Agent safety is very important. Make sure you’re taking precautions and following your company policy. The National Association of Realtors also offers a variety of agent safety apps and safety products.