Jim Barnes was new to the real estate business and anxious to succeed. He learned quickly that one of the best ways to meet buyers was to hold open houses. Taking the advice of his broker, he volunteered to hold listings open for other agents in the office. His offer worked. A fellow agent had an impromptu invitation to Palm Springs for the weekend, and offered her advertised new listing to Jim for a Sunday open house. He gratefully jumped at the opportunity.
It was late on Sunday morning when Jim planted his borrowed open house signs at neighborhood intersections and in the front yard of the suburban San Diego home. The owner's Volvo was in the driveway, but when Jim rang the doorbell nobody responded. Unconcerned, Jim retrieved the key from the lockbox and unlocked the door.
Once inside the neat home, Jim made the rounds, turning on lamps and lights and opening draperies. The master bedroom door was almost closed, but he could see someone asleep in the king sized bed around the corner. Not sure what to do, Jim quietly closed the door and retreated to the living room.
Within moments, the doorbell rang, and there stood a couple with two small children. Jim showed them through the newer single story home and apologized that the master bedroom could not be seen at the present time. They seemed interested in the home. Jim suggested, "If you come back later, the owner will have awakened and I can show you the master suite."
The family had just departed when another group of potential buyers showed up at the door. Once again, Jim showed all of the home sans master bedroom. The scenario repeated itself all afternoon, as Jim built up some nice additions to his potential client datbase.
Traffic had slowed down by 4 p.m. and Jim once again wondered about the sleeping owner.
He walked up to the double master bedroom doors and knocked softly.
He knocked louder and called out for Mr. Knowlton.
A feeling of dread enveloped Jim. He gently opened the door and called out to the man who had not moved (not a bit).
Mr. Knowton was dead--and had been so for a number of hours.
It was a day of heavy learning for Jim. He endured police questioning until late in the evening, and comments from agents for months. The clients he met that day appreciated the follow-up call and his story.
It turned out that Mr. Knowlton died of natural causes, but decided to exit on his own time--and with a sense of humor.
It was an open house and Halloween-season story Jim Barnes will never forget.
(The story is true; all names have been changed.)