“It Was Like Something Out of ‘Ozark’”: Real-Estate Pros Discover Secret Rooms During Showings #Ozark #RealEstate #Pros #Discover #Secret #Rooms #Showings Welcome to Lopoid
Dylan Eckardt, Real-estate agent, Nest Seekers International, Southampton, N.Y., and Beverly Hills
I showed this beautiful house in Amagansett, a new construction listed at $8.5 million. After the showing, I’m getting in my car when I look up and I see a light on somewhere upstairs. So I go back in the house. It’s all dark. I went upstairs and opened one of the walk-in closets. There’s no light on in there. I push the clothes away so I can see what’s going on. There is a 3-by-3-foot cutout in the wall behind the closet, like a little door to a crawl space. The light was coming through it.
I’m scared a little bit, like, “What if I open this up and it’s bodies or something?” I see where you unlock the door, and I open it. It’s lined with something black, like painted tinfoil, to block out the light. At this point, I’m thinking, “Oh [expletive], I know what it is.” I grew up in the Hamptons; it isn’t my first rodeo.
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I pull open the door and, I swear to God, there are about 50 marijuana plants, 2 feet high, in rows as far as the eye could see. It took up the whole crawl space, which extended across the top of this house. It was professionally done, with lights all over—a multimillion-dollar grow operation. The lights must have been on a timer. It was like something out of “Ozark.”
The homeowner is a sweet old lady, like my grandmother. I’m thinking, “I just found the Black Dahlia—she’s a kingpin!” The next day, I called her.
She said, “Did your clients like the house?” I said, “You know, the house had a weird smell—it smelled like…flowers?” I was trying to wind her up. But the homeowner had no clue. She was like, “My kids have been living in that house for the past year; we’ve actually been on the water.” This is a woman who owns a few houses.
About a month later she called me up and said, “Dylan, I know you know a lot of people, but could we keep the flower smell to ourselves?” I guess she found out her kids were growing weed in there.
I told this story about 100 times. I ended up showing the house about two months later and I was so excited. I had been telling people, “You gotta check this house out!”
But there was nothing there. The owner had actually sheet-rocked over the door to the crawl space.
Kay Moon, Associate broker, the Corcoran Group, New York City
It was a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in a co-op building in Murray Hill, just a typical small one-bedroom. I represented the buyer. She was a nice young lady who wanted to buy a start-up home, and this fit her budget.
We made an appointment. The apartment was in nice condition, but there wasn’t a ton of closet space. In the bedroom, the owner had a large closet that was locked. There was a chain, like a bicycle chain, that had been wrapped around the door handles and locked with a padlock.
We asked the seller’s agent, “Is there a particular reason why she chained this closet?” Maybe there was something valuable inside, or something secret? The agent had no idea, only that she had been instructed that nobody should try to open it.
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My buyer was interested, but obviously we couldn’t purchase the apartment without seeing the closet space. Maybe there’s a criminal situation. There could be a body inside, or maybe some funny toys. We made an offer, on the condition that the seller let us examine the closet. She eventually agreed.
We met the agent at the apartment a second time, and this time the closet was unlocked. We pulled the doors open, and there was a golden Buddha statue, about 5 feet high, and all covered in gold paint in a totally black space. It was almost as big and wide as the closet and it glittered. The Buddha was seated on a platform and beside it there was a gong and a singing bowl and some incense.
We had thought the seller might be storing something quite valuable, or worse. A Buddha was the last thing I ever imagined. The seller’s agent, her jaw was dropping on the floor.
It was a sacred space for her. The owner had no clothes or anything in the closet, just the Buddha. Maybe she had storage space in the basement.
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