Spooky Times | Urban Living
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Spooky Times



Seasons change pretty drastically in the capital city this time of year. Colors change, stores are full of holiday crap/décor and many of us run to Lagoon's Frightmares or a haunted house like Nightmare on 13th. Spooky, creepy times await!

But in the world of real estate, I run into my fair share of hair-raising ick all year round. As I'm older and work on a great deal of estate sales of the recently deceased, I often get "first looks" at a property about to go on the market. And on occasion, I'm completely wigged out—even though I've been doing this for 33 years.

Recently, a client from decades ago (who had since moved out of state) contacted me to sell his brother's house—we'll call him Frank. For years, Frank had been somewhat of a hermit in his little home. The landscaping was overgrown and many thought the place had been abandoned. Frank had suffered small strokes, and with each one had lost a little more of his mental capacity. He turned off his water, stopped using the toilet and instead used milk jugs and plastic bags from newspapers thrown on his porch each morning. He didn't open his mail but just threw it onto the floor.

At some point, my client was notified by a local hospital that Frank had a major stroke, so he rallied the family from all over the country to come to the rescue. Sadly, Frank would never be well enough to return home, and thus the property and his possessions had to be sold.

Once the relatives arrived in Salt Lake City, we all met at the property. I was given a bit of backstory in advance. Having once worked in the morgue at Holy Cross Hospital during college, I knew to bring Vick's vapor rub or something else smelly enough to protect our noses from the smell. It took two of us to break down the front door. The stench was horrific. There was a roof leak and much of the foot-deep pile of mail throughout the home was wet and moldy. The family called a local "disaster cleanup" company who bid out the job at $12,000. But luckily, I had another company at hand that did it for $3,000. My subcontractors were able to find his driver's license and birth certificate, along with some personal possessions and antiques that were later sold at a small estate sale. Frank now lives at a lovely care center.

You think your house is a mess? Oh, let me take you on a tour of some of the hoarder houses I see. They are sad evidence of folks with physical and psychological problems—and the stuff of spooky, creepy nightmares for those of us with OCD.