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Fantastik Voyages

When the market gets tough, the tough get scrubbing. (And dog-walking, and weeding, and . . .) How far will a Realtor go to seal a deal?

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EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER BONANOS

"I will sell this house today, I will sell this house today!" Annette Bening repeated through gritted teeth in American Beauty, as she stripped down to her undies and scoured the home she was about to show. And Annette wasn't even in New York, where the newly tense market means brokers have been going to spectacular lengths to make their sales.

"I have an exclusive with a 27-year-old bachelor," reports Corcoran's Bonni Lippman. "Before every showing, my partner and I have to go in and pick up dozens of used condoms with salad tongs. There are always beer bottles everywhere, and a dozen pairs of underwear on the floor that we'll stash in a spice drawer. Plus thousands of porno tapes, which we shove into a kitchen cabinet."

It all comes down to that 6 percent commission, of course. "A broker will do anything to make a deal," says William B. May's Sue Marcus. "Well, almost anything." (She recently spent several hours weeding a client's 1,000-square-foot terrace.) "I've done everything except windows," says Ashforth Warburg president Frederick Peters, who adds he's emerged covered with soot after pulling up carpets and taking down worn drapes. "It's just easier to do it yourself."

Housekeeping is sometimes just a start. "My client's deal was that in order to show his apartment, I needed to walk his dog and baby-sit it on weekends," says Douglas Elliman's Christine Nugent. "I walked it every day for two months. The apartment's still on the market."

"Sometimes I don't even want to talk about it. It's too embarrassing," says Corcoran's Leonard Steinberg of the services he's provided. Once, he replaced a dead refrigerator with his own, to ensure a smooth closing. "I was about to get a new one anyway," he says sheepishly.

Charles H. Greenthal's Brian Manning spent nine days entertaining out-of-towners who were buying a place in the city. "I arranged for pedicures, massages, hairdressers, dinner reservations, shopping," he reports. "They didn't know anyone in the city, so I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them. Then they didn't have weekend plans, so they came out to Southampton with me. I chartered a helicopter, but it couldn't fit their eighteen pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage, so we took a stretch limo. Wow, what I did for love," he chuckles. "Love of money."

Click here to read about a Giant's apartment
Click here for this week's Big Deals


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