I went to the home of a new listing, for the first time, to make notes on what needed to be done prior to going on the market. I was representing out-of-state family members selling their mother’s home, who had recently passed away. Upon entering, I smelled a faint odor like that of a skunk. None of the family members mentioned any skunk problems, so I assumed that it was not a skunk at all, but perhaps medical marijuana. You see, the owner, their mother, had been ill for quite a while prior to passing away, so it seemed logical that she would use medical marijuana for her pain, and that the smell had remained in the house.
Several days later, I returned to the home and found that the smell was stronger yet! I spoke with the next door neighbor while I was there, who also mentioned a skunk-like odor, and told me that his dog had
recently been sprayed by a skunk. He hadn’t seen the skunk since, but the odor was still present.
I knew that I had to get to the bottom of this odor. After all, we already had an Estate Sale scheduled, and were preparing renovations of the house as well. Our Estate Sale lady called me on a Saturday morning to tell me that the skunk smell had become so strong that it was utterly unbearable to be in the house. She told me if we couldn’t get rid of the smell in two days’ time, when she had planned to prep the house for the estate sale, it would have to be rescheduled. In that case, the next opportunity to hold the Estate Sale would be two weeks out!
Since we’d scheduled our contractors to renovate immediately after the Estate Sale, and the staging of the home directly after that, postponing the Estate Sale would be a major setback. We would have to wait to get the home on the market.
Naturally, I set to work calling every rodent control company in the Bay Area to hire a professional trapper to find the skunk(s) taking up unlawful residence at my listing. In real estate, this is commonly referred to as “squatting.”
Unfortunately, I was unable to find a company that would come out to the property on a weekend; they only offered to send someone the following week. However, I had committed to the family that I would have their mother’s home on the market by a certain time, and by any means necessary, I was going to make good on that commitment. With every minute counting, I took matters into my own hands.
I of course could not know whether there was a live nest under the house, or a single dead skunk, so I prepared for the worst. I donned eye goggles, a gas mask, heavy coveralls and industrial rubber gloves. I brought with me a heavy contractor’s garbage bag, duct tape and a big stick! Okay, so maybe it was a broomstick.
I knew the danger that lay ahead: skunks can carry contagious diseases, viruses and parasites, which can be transmitted through a single bite. I knew I had to be prepared in the event I did not find a friendly Pepé Le Pew underneath the house.
I crawled into the access hatch under the house. After going several feet under the house, I spotted the skunk under the side steps. My adrenaline had peaked; my heart was racing! I slowly and stealthily moved closer to the steps to evaluate. It looked alive! I poked it with my broomstick, intending to scare it out from under the house, and turned to sprint back, on all fours, to the access hatch. I didn’t even stop to look back and see if it was chasing me or not. I wasn’t sure if it would chase me, spray me, or just run away. Safely outside, I paused to listen, but heard no running. I peeked under the house for several minutes and figured that it must’ve been dead after all. Or, at the very least, a heavy sleeper! It was daytime and they are nocturnal, so it was plausible.
I went back under with more confidence, since the odds were good that it was simply dead. I got to the steps where I had seen it previously. Even with my gas mask on, the smell was unbearable. I poked it again, and, when it didn’t move, pushed it into my garbage bag using the broomstick. I then sealed the package with duct tape. To my surprise, even with the creature tightly sealed in a heavy contractors bag, the odor was awful. I didn’t think it wise to put this bag in the garbage container at the home since the smell was so strong. Instead, I took it back to my house and buried it under some grass clippings in my green compost bin.
Unfortunately, this was on a Saturday, and our trash pick-up was not until Wednesday morning, so I had to listen to my wife complain about the smell outside of our house for the next 4 + days.
My transformation from Realtor to Skunk Buster made it possible for the estate sale to happen as scheduled, allowing us to keep with our timeline and get the home on the market when we had committed.
So, yes! As a matter of fact, I’ll do almost anything to sell your home!