Most homes for sale on Zillow are lucky to get even 100 pageviews over a few weeks.
But a five-bedroom Michigan home has earned 36,000 pairs of eyeballs over the course of its three days on the real estate listings site.
In one of the photos with the for-sale-by-owner listing asking $165,000 — which has since been removed, though local channel WXYZ-TV captured it and posted it on Facebook — there appears to be a plate on the kitchen counter with lines of a white powdery substance.
Hundreds of commenters wondered what it might be, many marveling at its resemblance to cocaine. Some even asked if this could land the homeowner — located in Oak Park, a northern suburb of Detroit — in trouble.
Luckily, police told 7 Action News that they would not be investigating because there wasn’t enough information to secure a search warrant.
Oh and, according to the boyfriend of the homeowner, the whole thing was a joke.
“I was like, I’m wondering if I did something like this if anybody would even notice or if somebody did notice it, that it would go viral and it went viral,” a man identified only by his first name, Jeff, told 7 Action News reporter Anu Prakash in a video and story on WXYZ-TV’s website. “It went too viral.”
In just the first 24 hours, he said, the listing received 29,000 views. When asked if he was satisfied with the popularity of the listing, Jeff replied, “Yes and no.” While he’s happy about the attention, it’s led to a bombardment of inquiries. And because the house is on the market without a real estate agent, he and his girlfriend have to field them all.
After hundreds of calls, emails and texts, Jeff said he took down the photo — which he crafted by putting Goody’s headache powder on a plate — even though he was just trying to be funny.
But Zillow told 7 Action News that the company removed the photo because it was against one of their rules.”We removed the photo for violating our Good Neighbor Policy,” a spokesperson for Zillow said. “Our customer support team monitors the site, reviews flagged content, and takes action to remove content that violates our policies.”
Even if it was fake, the police said no one should try that publicity ploy again. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone staging something like that to try and gain interest in a home or any piece of property,” an Oak Park police lieutenant said.
This isn’t the first Michigan listing to go viral for an odd reason. A Lansing, Mich., house listing got a lot of views after the “Scream” villain Ghostface appeared in several photos online. And a Pittsburgh home garnered some attention for featuring someone dressed in a dinosaur costume. Both were intentionally aiming to drum up some views. But a DC condo listing unwittingly went viral after a giant penis accidentally photobombed one of the listing images.
The lesson here? Odd listing pictures can help a property get attention. Just make sure to stay on the right side of the law.
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