Quorum-Laurelhurst Seattle Real Estate Blog


Who else likes a staged home for sale? Squatters!
by Jenn Flynn
backpacks-and-bacon1 Last week ended as the week from hell. There was the typical stuff you get from running an office, some very late nights working, but what really pushed me over the edge was a phone call I got Thursday. A very kind agent called me Thursday to tell me she had gone to preview a listing of mine. The other agent informs me that she was startled because my listing said that it was vacant, but when she went to preview it the house definitely was not empty.

The first thing I did was call the owners in the hopes they had given someone permission to stay in the house, but just forgotten to tell me. No such luck. So when my husband got home from work we went over together. When we opened the door it was very evident someone was living there. The house reeked of bacon and sausages. There was a window screen laying in one of the bedroom windows. And there was dirty plates, and junk everywhere. Needless to say I then called the police. They came out and made sure the home was clear. They confiscated a backpack and a tent that was the squatters, dusted for finger prints on the windows and dirty dishes and then gave me a case number. They told me that in the last 2 weeks there had been two other reports of squatters in the area. They said in each of them, they had disappeared as soon as they knew they were busted and the police told me they did not think that they would be back.

The squatters had closed all the blinds, so I opened them up and turned on the lights, locked up and left. Around 8pm that night minutes after I had gotten home from the office, I get a call from the owners. They inform me that a friend of theirs was out in front of the house. He had driven by the house on his way to a basketball game. And what he saw was the blinds were closed again. So he parked the car and walked by the house again and someone peeked out the blinds. The squatters were back. So I go back to the house to meet him and the police for a second time that day. I got there just as the police were cuffing and placing the first person in the car.

It was two people. A female and a male. Both dressed nicely and both very young. They couldn’t have been more than their early 20’s. So for a second time that day I got a case number, locked up and went home. Friday morning I headed over with another agent in my office who was kind enough to volunteer to help me clean up. I found all kinds of things, a cell phone, clothes, fingernail polish (which she had wiped all over the towels etc), pocket knife, lots of dirty greasy dishes from eating sausage and bacon and DVD’s rented from the public library.

Among all of that I also found a pile of for sale home flyers. All looked to be vacant homes and all were in the general area. I called all of the agents of each of those listings. Of the 14 I called, two had already had a problem. One agent told me that someone had broker into his listing, but had not stayed. I asked him what he had in the house and he said only two couches. Guess there wasn’t enough for them in that house. The 2nd agent told me that she had squatters at her house also. As we compared notes she told me that her squatters had eaten bacon and sausage and made a huge mess. We decided that they were definitely the same. She also had a staged home that included dishes, a bed etc.

Staging a home is proven to sell a home for more and faster, but I have now discovered a downside. It also makes a nice home for a squatter! So be careful everyone. This ended in probably the best way as they were caught, the agent who discovered it wasn’t hurt by the squatters and there was not a ton of damage, but I am hoping this is not a trend in these hard economic times.

Posted 2009-02-16