Commercial Real Estate Horror Stories: The Dreaded Tales from Friedman Real Estate

Posted on October 22, 2019

While many horror stories in real estate are avoidable with careful planning, leadership, and due diligence, such as what Friedman provides daily, real estate is a unique business that combines unpredictable forces such as weather, old building infrastructure, and the human element. Sometimes these factors can create horrifying results, and with our 30+ years in the industry, we’ve seen our fair share of creepiness.

In honor of Halloween, we’ve pulled together a list of the top commercial real estate horror stories we’ve encountered. Whether its nightmarish equipment failures or spooky tenant tales, we’re talking about the horrors that still give us goosebumps down our back.

A Bloody Surprise

While touring a client through several vacant suits within an office listing, one of the brokers was in for quite the surprise upon opening the door to a suite, in the middle of the open space, the duo found a person laying on a stretcher with a sheet covering everything but their head. The client and broker both had a moment of panic, thinking they were witnessing some macabre scene unfold before their eyes. They immediately called the Property Manager to report the horrific event. The Property Manager with a chuckle said, “guys, did you not see the signs plastered throughout the hallway for the American Red Cross Blood Drive? That wasn’t a body; it was someone resting after donating blood!” Needless to say, the client and broker shared a good laugh. And yes, the client ended up leasing the space! 

The Mysterious Figure

 While measuring a supposedly vacant suite in a downtown office building, I suddenly saw something in a security mirror down a long hallway. It was the silhouette of a menacing-looking figure lurking at the end of the hallway, illuminated by the dim glow of an emergency light. As I crept down the hall to meet the intruder, I was met by a life-size promotional standee of Arnold Palmer.

‘Witch’ Way to the building?

We were looking at buildings in the DC/Maryland area and on one of the trips, decided to pull off the highway to look at a few buildings that were on our way back to the airport. We came to a road that had a large “DO NOT ENTER” sign on it, but in typical fashion, curiosity got the best of us, so we drove on. Not even a minute later, several undercover surveillance personnel surrounded us, at which time we were told to step out of the vehicle slowly and place our hands on the car. The security personnel ran our licenses and prompted us that we’d be arrested on sight if found in that area again. Turns out, the road with the “DO NOT ENTER” sign was the entry drive to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, MD. For those not familiar, the NSA is one of the highest-profile, most secretive intelligence agencies in the US. I thought that I’d never make it back home after that!

A Howling in the Wind

Anyone who has been around commercial real estate knows that if it’s hot, cold, rainy or windy, any defects in a building’s façade, roof or HVAC system will rear their ugly head, usually at the most inopportune times. Years back, Southeast Michigan experienced an extraordinarily high wind event where, for nearly 24 hours, wind speeds steadily exceeded 40 mph, with gusts approaching 60 mph. This extreme weather event resulted in numerous power outages and several buildings experiencing significant roof damage. From the window of the building, we watched as a neighboring building’s rubber roof membrane lifted 4-5′ off the roof structure like a giant sail, causing immediate damage and leaks.

If you have a CRE horror story of your own, share the gory details with us in the comments.