What should have been a routine Saturday morning showing at a house in East York was anything but for Toronto realtor Desmond Brown.

Brown was with his clients when he entered the house at 10 am only to realize they’d walked into a party that showed no sign of abating. Surprised, he immediately pulled out his phone and began recording a video of what appeared to be teenagers or college-aged youths running out the front door.

“I got the key from a lockbox to show the property but I couldn’t get into the front porch lock because the key wouldn’t fit, so I went the to rear door thinking it was a mistake and before I could put key in the door, I noticed it was unlocked,” Brown told STOREYS. “So I walked in and yelled out ‘Hello,’ which is normal because sometimes they tell us the property is vacant when it’s not, and the next thing I know I see these kids started to scramble. I pulled my phone out thinking there was something wrong.”

Brown, a former journalist who heads up the Desmond Brown Real Estate Team at RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. and hosts a podcast called Sold in the 6ix, says he’s never experienced anything like this in his 23-year career. Most of the youths got out of dodge immediately but one of them, his face covered, brazenly walked around collecting his belongings.

“What really blows me away is the cavalier attitude they all had, especially that last kid in the video who seemed to be really inconvenienced by my presence,” Brown said. “My goal with the video is to have these kids identified and maybe their parents will slap their wrists because that’s all they’ll get for it.”

The consequences might be more severe than that. Police were alerted and are treating Saturday morning’s events as a break and enter because the youths got in through a window.

Brown says they broke a lot of staging furniture, including a baby crib and bed slats.

“The mattress in the master-bedroom had ben removed and soiled with food, drink and who knows what else. There were cigarette butts on the floor, French fries on the floor, all kinds of empty drink containers, including bottles of Crown Royal and fast food trash,” he said.

“All signs are that they were there overnight. Those French fries were cold.”

Surprised but unphased, Brown walked his client through the home, and while they liked it, they have opted to buy another property.

Although bizarre, such occurrences aren’t uncommon, says Erica Mary Smith. Often, it happens because agents are sloppy with lockbox combinations -- Smith, who co-owns Stomp Realty in Toronto, says her brokerage has a policy of only releasing those combinations digitally to mitigate such situations. She recently had her own fracas.

“At 300 Front St., we rented a unit out as a long-term lease and then the tenant sub-leased the property on Airbnb without permission. They were using the unit to run drugs and prostitutes,” Smith said. “It probably would have gone undetected but once he stopped paying rent, I had to go in there and that’s when we learned everything.

“There was another issue where the tenant said they were moving out but tried to get an extra month free by living there and not telling anyone. Sometimes people look good on paper, but right now we’re trying to get two lawyers who make $400,000 out of a unit because they won’t pay their $3,000 rent. Give me break.”

Smith added that this issue occurs a lot in cottage country because owners usually leave after Thanksgiving and don’t return till May.

“I remember one of my clients realized somebody was living in his cottage when he started getting hydro bills.”

Real Estate News