What I'm Seeing Now


A Very Sad And Dangerous Inspection

I was called on to do a very sad and dangerous inspection.

The homeowner and a local County found me on line and teamed up to hire me to literally condemn a house.  I have never been called on to do that before.  Of course I have no ability or authorization to condemn anything.  But my report can be used by County officials to justify it.

THE STORY - a soft-hearted homeowner hears of a circumstance of an 86 year-old lady, who's husband had recently died, and a doctor has just "opened [her] up to close [her] back up giving [her] a short time to live."  This homeowner gave her a house to live in rent free, as a "Life Estate Gift," for the rest of her life, so long as she maintained the property.  She was to live in the house alone.  Family was nearby to care for her, and could visit, but she was to live alone in the house.  The house was built in the late 40s, and was in pristine condition, with recent updates.

THAT WAS TWENTY FOUR YEARS AGO.  Over that time the rest of the family had moved in, and why not as it's free living.  Nobody works, all are on various assistance programs, federal and local, and ALL are on disability, including the children.  The lady is still 86 years old...  you get the rest.  They have cost this soft-hearted homeowner tens of thousands of dollars since.  They cost the taxpayer way into five figures EVERY MONTH.

At the time of my inspection the house is inhabited by 10-12 adults (nobody really knows), four children, four dogs, two pigeons and a million roaches and black widow spiders.  Super healthy molds live everywhere.  There is one bathroom, with a tub and shower that do not work, a small fridge, small range and small, one-bowl kitchen sink.  There is hot water.


Of course this is a sad circumstance, to say the least.  But the County has had many, many dealings with this group for years.  I was told there was a coffin (!!) in the house full of enough guns to field an army, so the County was sending two officials to protect me while there.  Fortunately, knowing I was coming, it had been removed or hidden off site.

This group knew I was coming to "inspect" the house, but did not know the entirety of the reason for my visit.  As such, thinking their complaints were finally being satisfied by my inspection, and the County was finally coming down on the homeowner, THEY WERE VERY NICE TO ME.   Nonetheless, the County officials stayed in and around the house the whole time I was there.  I politely said hello to everybody and struck up conversations.

Before I went in, the Code Enforcement Officer told me that they had cleaned up and it looked "one thousand percent better" than the last visit.  But, I was warned about what I would see.

I discovered something the County did not know, after all these years and dozens of visits to issue citations.

A BASEMENT APARTMENT!  Living room and bedroom, taking up about 1/3 of the basement. 

This scene was frightful and exasperating!  The family living here, and apparently the four children, sleep on the bed.  The curtain on the back wall is carpeting hanging from the ceiling and "hides" the oil-burning boiler and water heater.  That sofa at the moment of this photograph has about 100 roaches crawling on it.  Roaches are everywhere - on and in everything.  And that TV on the left is larger than any TV in my house, and one of five in this house!

How bad was the basement overall?  Neither County official would go down there!  And I had a cough the rest of the day.



Based on just my verbal report at the end of my inspection, the County condemned the house and began relocating this group.

For my safety, they asked me to leave before they went back inside to inform the family of the immediate decision.  I was told by my homeowner client that they put a red sticker on the door.  I was also told that many County officials were there for the rest of the day, and into the evening.

The homeowner said that demolition could begin as early as twenty four to forty eight hours after my inspection.  Yes, demolition was the goal of my inspection! 

There will be more posts about this house.  The first thing I did coming straight home was to disrobe in the laundry room and put my clothing directly into the washing machine, and take a shower.  A day later I am still coughing.

As I said, it was a very sad and dangerous inspection.


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 210 commentsJay Markanich • September 28 2011 07:16AM


Hi Jay,

We just never know what kind of call we might get.

There are a lot of these homes out there. We need to be very careful when we inspect them.

Good post and good shots.

Best. Clint McKie 

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 9 years ago

What an interesting story Jay. You just never know what you're going to run into, that's a tough situation. Makes you appreciate lifes blessings all the more. Will check back to see more about this.

Posted by Michael S. Bolton, MN Appraiser (Michael S. Bolton,Inc.) over 9 years ago

Jay: Tragic that an act of kindness for this woman has been used and abused by irresponsible family members. I don't often condemn people who depend on assistance. There but for the grace of God...however, for the county, any county to continue to support this situation for years and years is crazy. Why weren't these children given a better opportunity with people who could care and provide for them? I could go on and on.

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) over 9 years ago

GEEZ!  Don't you have masks???? 

This is a case that would almost make us wish the public housing was back.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

 Tough work and good job brother.

If that was 1000 times better, we can only hope they will learn from this and you will cough whatever it is all out. Take care and walk it off.

Posted by Brian Schulte, SFR, Sierra Vista, AZ (Allison James Estates & Homes) over 9 years ago

Good morning, Jay....I hope you didin't bring any creatures home with you on your clothes...you should have had protection from head to toe.....and a mask too!!

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired ) over 9 years ago

Jay - it is amazing what conditions people can and will endure; glad you did the inspection and were able to get them out of that situation.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 9 years ago

Clint - there were 35 photos in total and 6 thermal images.  The county wanted total documentation.

Thanks Michael.  Frankly, I am still rocked by the experience.

Anne - these are people who really, really know how to use the system.  And guess what?  You and I provide that system!

I do Lenn.  I didn't realize how bad that basement was until after I left.  I was down there about 1/2 hour. 

I might say, we still have the public housing, but it is more spread out now, and hidden.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Brian - they are familiar with the clean-up routine anticipating the visit from the county.  And they made a special attempt for me!

Barbara - I didn't know!  Hence the disrobing, washing clothing and shower!

Carol - the objective wasn't to get them out, it was to get the homeowner out!  Getting this group "out" just gets them "in" to something else.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

It speaks to the diverse character of human beings. There are plenty of people who would never allow themselves to live in a situation like that. Then there are those who are more than willing to lower themselves for a free ride. While I was reading this I was wondering how you would clean off. I would have done the same thing, in fact I have after a few inspections.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

This was huge Jim.  I have cleaned up too after inspections, but this one took the cake!  It was frightful and one of the men on site was frightful.  He was reasonably pleasant though, thinking I was helping the situation.  I was, but not how they probably thought!  I'm still a little rocked by the experience.

Interestingly, my blog post yesterday before the inspection speaks exactly to this group living in the house (Robert Higgs).  Click on the blogspot icon - it's a prescient post!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

That homeowner could have been kind to her without the life estate.   Also, a good attorney would have a definition of wasting the house.   I don't believe you can dictate who else lives in the home, but as soon as the person moves out, relinquishes the home or psases away, the title reverts back to the owner.   This should be featured post.

BTW, what happened to the 86 year old?

Posted by Yvette Chisholm, Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500 (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 9 years ago

What a terrible circle some people just don't know that they can and should do better.  I sure feel sorry for any young children living with that mess.  I'm sure it is just a matter of time till it is an ugly situation somewhere else.

Posted by Laura Sargent (Carolina One Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Yvette - who moves in or out was not the only issue, but the contract did state that the house was for the sole use of the 86 year old (who was really 62).  I spoke with the lady yesterday and she is still 86 and still going to die in a couple of weeks...

Laura - this is the life of a segment of our society.  They get themselves into a state of helplessness as more and more payments come their way.  But these people are very, very good at using the system and make far more money than I do!  They had a brand new washer/dryer, top of the line front loaders, as contrasted to my 14 year old units!

You are probably right about the ugly situation in the next place.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I feel so bad for the homeowner.  They tried to do a decent thing to help someone out and it came back to bite them in the ass.  

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 9 years ago

The real loser in this situation, Jay, is the kind hearted home owner.  Unfortunately, I, too, have found that some people take advantange of our kindness

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Such a heart breaking post, on so many levels.  There is simply no excuse for living in filth and squalor...I hope the children have been removed to protective custody.

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 9 years ago

Jay, it's so terrible for everyone involved. The homeowner who tried to do something good for someone. The 86 year old for being taken advantage of by the family. And the families who who don't care or don't seem to know any better. 

Posted by John M. Scott, Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area (BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties) over 9 years ago

Jay - It sounds like your inspection was a "success" based on its goals.  I hope that you recover quickly, and if not that the county will help pay for any medical care needed.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 9 years ago

Yuck!  It's one thing if the "adults" choose to live this way in a house they have bought and paid for (yeah, right...as if that would happen) but quite another when you start bringing kids into the mix - I second what Lisa (#17) said above about protective custody!  again - YUCK!

Posted by Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate, Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming (Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming) over 9 years ago


I had a very similar type of inspection a little over a year ago. The circumstances were a bit different but the eventual outcome was about the same. To scrap (bulldoze it down)!

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Amazingly sad story Jay.  Just looking at those two photos... if I had hair it would be itching.

Posted by Bill Warner, Infrared Thermal Inspector (BC Warner Inspections) over 9 years ago

And get bitten this owner did Justin!  I got a call today from an excited owner saying they were tearing down the house tomorrow!

This homeowner lost big Chris, financially and emotionally.  This has been a huge stress.  This owner was so grateful for my inspection paid me twice the fee I asked for.

They were removed Lisa, last week.  Then this group, knowing the routine, cleaned up and they were returned.  They sneaked them out before we arrived that morning so the County would not know how many children were really there.

John - listening to her I think she is quite complicit in this whole affair.  She is the original brains behind the operation.



Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Steven - I'm feeling better this afternoon.  Still reeling though from the experience.

Brenda - see what I wrote to her!  These are people who know the system real well.  These children were born while this group has been living there.

Don - the demolition is on line for tomorrow!  I might stop by to see some of it!

Bill - the hair on the soles of my feet and my palms was itching!  Truly...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay-The homeowner did a good deed and got screwed. Leeching relatives took advantage of the elderly. We got combat pay in the Army, sounds like your inspection may have merited combat pay too. Government entities don't usually move that quickly on issues like this. Good for your area.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 9 years ago

Wayne - I'm not sure, but I think this has been in the works for months.  I may have been the final nail in the coffin.

The demolition is handled by the homeowner, once the condemnation was determined!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay - The title of your post sums it up. Sad stuff indeed. I hope the family is relocated to a much safer environment. As the father of four kids myself, I had a visceral response to this one.

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 9 years ago

Wait til you see the post on hoarding Jason.  I assume all the people will be relocated, but don't know where.  And I might suggest that the homeowner is not the one who created this unsafe mess.  Public housing is now spread out into many private houses, and who knows what all is happening to those homeowners!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I'd say I'm surprised but I'm not. The details might be different, but I walk into this from time to time as do colleagues- disgusting, unfit for humanity settings with mold, animal waste, dead animals, dangerous stuctural issues, and inhabitants who are oblivious and, it would appear, immune. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) over 9 years ago

Holy cow, I don't think I've ever heard a story quite like this one! Bad news all around. I do wonder though: in 24 years, did the homeowner not go to check on the house even once? If I was in his shoes, I would have been there regularly just to see how my property was doing. Does he live locally or out of state?

Posted by Pat & Wayne Harriman, Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate (Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499) over 9 years ago

They must be immune Joe!  I was in this place for only a short while and I was not well for two days!

Pat and Wayne - this homeowner still owns the property and the commercial building next door.  The owner lives in another state, was here to visit 10 years ago, and has had lawyers "handling" it since.  Giving up, the owner and the county called me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Can't say that I'm surprised with the current economy.  When things go south, people move in with each other, and things get out of hand.  The, people get used to living without and come to expect more and more handouts.  I hope that the children are well cared for.  One can only imagine living under these conditions. Count your blessings if you haven't already.

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (Realty One Group Capital) over 9 years ago

OH my! That is one disgusting story and it gave me goosebumps reading it. I've been in homes like these before and they usually do leave you with a cough or nasal problem later because of all the filth and mold. UGH!

Posted by Reba Haas, Team Reba, CDPE (Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Eastside www.TeamReba.com) over 9 years ago

They do say no good deed goes unpunished.  I think I  would have run out the door at the sight of the 1st roach.  YUK!!

Posted by Nancy Pav, Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor (Century 21 Redwood Realty) over 9 years ago

Tamara - this group has been together nearly all of the last 24 years.  The complaints against the homeowner's "care" of the property started nearly immediately and this homeowner was out of state.  Two adults living in the house were born there, as were, apparently most recently, the children.

I do count my blessings!  I have a plaque which says, "Count your many blessings" over my piano.  After losing my job during the Carter years, I could not find another one and started my own business doing what I did to put myself through school - contracting.  That developed into a home inspection business, which I have done now for 30 years this October.  Since starting that first business I have worked 6 days a week, with no vacations longer than 3 days.  My last one week vacation was in 1991.  But I do not count my hard work for having provided my blessings.  My entire adult life I have paid an honest tithing, believing in Malachi 3: 10 and actually "proving" it true.  And it is.

If the county official is correct, this group makes more money per month than I do and none of them works!  And I apparently help pay it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Reba - early this evening (this inspection was yesterday) my cough is nearly gone!  Wow!

Nancy - you would NOT believe the roaches.  Everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  I washed my clothes, and myself, immediately upon getting home!  Yuck.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, I think I will stick with sales and dealing with clients as opposed to risking my health in a "home" like that. You inspectors are certainly brave!

Posted by Dominic Tartaglia, GRI, SLO first-time homebuyer specialist (Tartaglia Realty) over 9 years ago

Well, Dominic, you might one day be called upon to sell a home like this!  And you'll be making decisions as to what to do to get it ready to sell!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I feel just as bad for these people as I do for the poor homeowner. What kind of miserable background did they come from that would make living like this seem acceptable. It must have been miserable on both sides! Hope your not getting sick from those mold spores! I had a good friend get very sick from a bathroom remodel gone awry....inhaled mold spores and was in intensive care for a spell of time!

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I'm glad the county decided to stick around and make sure you were safe during the inspection.  I'd say you were due a long hot shower and an adult beverage after that inspection.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay,

Oh my...what a disgusting mess, not quite sure how you even did that one myself.

You mentioned a "life estate" had been granted and isn't it interesting how an act of kindness can turn out this way. I've only been involved in a life estate (after the fact) several times, they've very interesting you never know what you're going to get. I doubt that most people realize when they grant something like that how many long-term issues could be involved.

Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) over 9 years ago

Rosalie - I don't know the whole story.  I wondered when I was told there would be "protection" for me there!  Thanks for your concern but I think I'm okay now.

Cindy - it's not often I take a hot shower when it's 80 degrees outside!  I bet you have driven by this house too!  Off line I will tell you where it is...

Lynda - I had every tool I own, on my person!  I did not want to take my bag into the house, or any tool kits!  I would have taken hitchhikers out with me as I left!  This homeowner was at the end of this homeowner's rope!


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago
Wow...that is sad on so many levels.
Posted by Peggy James, Woodbridge Virginia Area Real Estate Specialist (EXIT Realty Associates) over 9 years ago

Peggy - it was sad, you are right, on many levels.  I am still a little rocked by it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I'm sorry but soft-hearted is being kind.  Duped for 24 years . . . dude never heard of a lawyer?!?  TWENTY-FOUR YEARS?!?!  Omigosh allowing that to continue for so long is the real shame.

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 9 years ago


It's a sad story all the way around. Oscar Wilde was right: No good deed goes unpunished!"

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 9 years ago

I agree with Carla---plenty of room for wake up call all around.  To compound this---everyone's vote is equal :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I have been in a similar situation when I was an appraiser but it was for an estate.  It was sad as I saw dishes pilled up by the sink.  Books that were 6-8 feet high and a maze was created throughout the house.  I got the weeby geebies right away and had to go to Home Depot and purchase a disposable outfit with mask so I could feel safe.  I took my clothes off at the gas station and put the protective gear on and went back into the house.  The family was going to sell the home but nobody, in that family, ever visited this elderly man and he was found dead in that house ... all alone for two weeks and family never checked up on him.  I was in tears when I came out because the staircase was totally awesome but unsafe to go up to the second floor as it was pulling away from the wall. 

I accidentally hit one of the stacks of books and low and behold, this elderly man, appeared not to trust the banks, but put all of his money in the books.  He literally cut out the insides of the books and there had to be tons of money.  I called the attorney and then the police to explain the situation and asked that the home be protected from family who might come in and just take the money and be unaccounted for.  Sure enough, the family came and the police were right behind them marching them out and taking the garbage bags of money away from the family members.  The locks were changed and I sat in my car in tears knowing that this family never cared about this man and didn't think he had any money but it looked like he didn't trust them either. 

It's a hard world at times and nobody said it would be easy for us.  My heart goes out to this 86 year old lady whose family freeloaded off of her situation. 



Posted by Barb Van Stensel over 9 years ago

Wow, that's pretty nasty.  

That's reminds me of a house I inspected with similar living conditions in North Minneapolis about a year ago; check out this photo from the basement bedroom.  Look carefully at the bottom of the photo.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Oh my Jay, this is so sad on so many levels.  And, I know, you're never going to be able to erase those images and/or smells.  It is too bad that you didn't know abt the mask ahead of time.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 9 years ago

Ok, now this is a horrible story. I feel so sorry for the homeowner. I do not understand why people choose to live this way - it is neither difficult nor expensive to keep a place clean!!!

Posted by Allen 2222 over 9 years ago

Wow, Jay, I hope they don't come looking for you! I'm glad the county officials got you out of there before they broke the news. Hope you're feeling better. Who knew you could get sick from a 1/2 hour in a house... blech

Posted by Peg Barcelo, The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC (Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369) over 9 years ago

Ray, I was met with a shot gun once trying to get into a house that was about to be foreclosed on.  That was a long time ago.  If I thought there was a coffin full of them, I'd think more than twice before going inside.l

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Wow, just awful. I would just say, please be careful on the respiratory stuff...my agent friend ended up with a lung infection that has never left after a tour of moldy HUD homes. Outstanding post Jay - just traumatic!!

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio (RE/MAX Trinity Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) over 9 years ago

This story is too horrific to be made up. Thanks for sharing this story, sometimes its good to here that this sort of thing exists out there Jay.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay,

Amazing story, we have been in a few home that have come close, but your story is horrific, wow, and sad at the same time.

Posted by Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986., Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490 (eXp Realty, Victoria BC www.pfanntastic.com) over 9 years ago

we had a very similar situation with a house that a 70 year olf son ad his 90 year old mother lived in.  It smelled so bad that the man walked us around with a can of fabreeze so that we could look the property over!

Posted by Lisa Wetzel, CDPE, SFR carsonvalleyland.com (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 9 years ago

Twenty -four YEARS?  I'm thinking the residents weren't the only ones a few bricks short of a load...

Feel better Jay, You performed a public service, for sure.

Posted by Marge Piwowarski, Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC (Phoenix AZ Horse Property) over 9 years ago

Ah yes...the life estate...many an owner have been caught by that. But I also wonder why it took so long to figure this out.  I hope you are ok both in the short haul and the long haul...

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay--what a difficult situation to be in to have to condemn this home.  Also what a difficult situation for the homeowner who watched her property being destroyed over 20 years.  Just a sad situation all the way around. 

Posted by Janet Jones, Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii (Just Your Style Interiors, LLC) over 9 years ago

Carla - yes, this homeowner has!  And spent, and spent, and spent on lawyers.  These are people, with advocates, who know how to use (scam) the system better than the lawyers!  I was like Obi-wan Kenobi - to quote Leiea, "You are our only hope..."  They didn't even wait for my report to slap a red sticker on the door!  That happened after my verbal report in the driveway!  The County person told me to leave before that was done.  I hear it's being demolished today.  I might try to get a photo or two!

Richard - yes, I hear you.  This homeowner is no dummy either - a doctor.

Blurt - agreed.  And this system, while trying to "help" seems to perpetuate this sort of thing in, well, in perpetuity!  The County people were as glad I was there as was the homeowner!

I have to wonder how many other hundreds of circumstances I am helping to finance in this county.  I live here!

Wow Barb.  I have tears in my eyes after reading that.  The hearts of men (and women) grow colder and colder.  I felt for the lady in this house until I heard her check off to the County official all the assitance checks she gets each month.  She knows every one and what day they are supposed to arrive.  She is pretty knowledgeable as to the "system."  See my comment #35 above.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Similar Reubs?  See my post today.  And that picture looks just like my room, well, except my bear has a Redskins scarf and I took the Consumer Energy Sticker off the water heater beside my bed.

At least they didn't cover the vent hole with that curtain.  I should check mine.

Debbie - I'm still reeling, honestly.  But feeling better.

Alison - I felt very bad for her too.  I understand the house is to be demolished today.

Peg - I was in and around the house all morning.  I was in the basement about 1/2 hour.  Maybe a little longer.  But they stay down there all day!


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Pat - wow, rude greeting!  They didn't tell me about the coffin until after I was done!  That does sound like a great gun safe though...

Dawn - this was an awakening for me.  I have one in my bag, but because of the roaches, et al, I didn't take my bag into the house!  We are talking a million roaches, maybe two.  No kidding.

Tom - tragic on every level I can think.  See my post today on hoarding.  And I say this to you BEFORE I have written that post.

P&L - it is awful, in my opinion, just awful.  You hear stories, or see something on TV, but this took the cake for me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Lisa - good gosh!  And people were wanting to buy it?

Thanks Mike.  I don't know how much time passed before the scam was realized by this homeowner, but the notices about too many cars and junk outdoors began really quickly.

Janet - I think the County just wanted this to end.  It is very tragic on many levels, but in my opinion this circumstance has been perpetuated by the system which is trying to "handle" it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago
Jay never in a million years could I do your job. Sometimes for us agents, the walk through is bad enough.
Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

Charita - this one was very difficult.  See my post today to see another side of the story.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, wow, I can't imagine how relieved the home owner is to have them out of there after all this time. The idea that someone could take advantage so badly of someone else is more sickening than the photos.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 9 years ago

And now, Andrea, they will be taking even more advantage of me, and every other taxpayer in this county.  They have to be relocated, at my expense!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Wow...and I thought I had been in some rough ones through the years.  Of course I only show or do an interior BPO...sad they took advantage of the owner and the system allowed it!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

This was a really tough one Gary.  Look at my post today on hoarding!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Damn - gotta get you a mask! Look out for yourself first and the report second. Sad story.

Posted by K.C. McLaughlin, Realtor, e-PRO, Homes for Sale - Cary, Raleigh NC (RE/MAX United) over 9 years ago

Jay I hope you are feeling better and what a disgrace.  I will be writing a post in relation to your post so keep an eye out.   :-)

Posted by Debbie Walsh, Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036 (Shahar Management) over 9 years ago

Thanks K.C.  I wasn't aware that I would need it until I was into the thing!  You'll love today's post.

Lemmino Debra!  I have a post today about hoarding, and this house is the subject!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, what an amazing story. I anxiously await your update. In my 31 years, I've only handled 3 properties that rose to the level of what you showed and described, and probably about 5 more that came close. I too have had a listing condemned and bulldozed. In my cases though, none were 'beating' the system. Most were (sadly) elderly people who had mental conditions or limitations. When their out-of-state families stepped in and found the conditions they were living in, ......that's when I was called in.

I'm curious .... you said that the county officials had you leave before they went in to give the 'bad' news for your safety. Were they expecting retribution directed at you for them getting booted from their 'plush digs'?

Posted by Beverly Jo Cole (Southern Cross Real Estate, Inc.) over 9 years ago

They were afraid for me Beverly.  That's why they had "protection" in place for me during my inspection.  The digs weren't plush, but FREE.  I got the idea that the occupants thought I was there to help them get back to at the homeowner who was being reamed by the County.  It was the opposite, to be sure.  I have a post on hoarding up today, about this same house.

My understanding is that it is being demolished today.  I might drive by to see.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, sounds like the health department wouldn't have had a problem condemning it. Take care of that cough.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 9 years ago

It's better now Michael, thanks.  The unhealthful conditions here don't condemn - they had to be dangerous.

And today's post adds another layer.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay i think i would have burned my clothes. I get to see some really bad homes in listing foreclosures, but they have all been abandoned, i am glad i dont get to see them when the people are actually living there, escpecially with kids.  I'ld like to see more pics...

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) over 9 years ago

Scott - today's post adds another wrinkle, including photos.  Hoarding.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Yikes! At least it didn't have a crawl space! Then again, that basement was pretty close to being one.

Posted by Conor MacEvilly (RE/MAX On Market in Ballard. Seattle) over 9 years ago

I've heard stories like yours and Barb's, but thought I would never come across anything like that in our rural area. Well it's happened to me twice in the last four months. One house had six inches of dog poop all over it. A neighbor told me he could hear a dog barking, but in two years never saw a dog. There wasn't any dog poop in the yard. It was all in the house. The reclusive man died in the house, and his body wasn't discovered until a neighbor reported not seeing him for a while. The smell was horrible. I also found where the owner had been saving his own hair after he cut it. There was so much stuff in the house, I couldn't get within about five feet of the kitchen. Maybe that was a blessing. I don't know what I might have found in there. Apparently this man had horses and rented pasture land from an agent in our office. He always paid his rent on time, but someone would spray a disinfectant thoughout our building after he left, because the smell was so bad. I saw the condition of the bathroom in the house, and it was obvious no one had been able to use the tub or shower for quite a while.

The second house was in just as bad condition minus the animal feces, but the smell was similar. I didn't get a story on this house. But it did smell like someone may have died in there as well.

These situations come about for many reasons. In my first story, it was pretty obvious the man was mentally ill. Being the animal lover I am, I have to wonder what happened to the dog. In the second story it appears an elderly couple, or person, was probably living in the house. This was in a nice, established neighborhood. Did anyone check on this person, or couple? I don't know. The county had put red stickers on the door threatening to condemn the house. No one was living in it when I went in. In your story...it just sounds like the family saw a deal to not have to pay any rent and moved in. But why would they raise children in an environment like that? And why would anyone live like that themselves?

Posted by Debbie Laity, Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO (Cedaredge Land Company) over 9 years ago

Oh my goodness. I think about the poor children, hope that Child Protective Services was involved as well.

Posted by Dick and Dixie Sells, Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale (Sells Real Estate, LLC) over 9 years ago

This is so sad, I feel horrible for the owner and what she has had to endure. 

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 9 years ago


I applaud you!  I'd NEVER have stayed around to visit the basement!  And those poor kids! UGH!  But,as you said, there were huge TV's......

Posted by Kathy Opatka, Serving Ocean City, MD, & The Delaware Beaches (RE/MAX CROSSROADS) over 9 years ago

Very interesting post, Jay!  You are brave, very brave...the first time I see critters I am out of there!  As a real estate agent, I've run across some horrible properties, but usually by the time I see them, no one lives there!  I've NEVER seen one as bad as this! 

Posted by Chris DeSimone, CRS, GRI, Realtor (DFW Fine Properties) over 9 years ago

I've been a few homes over the years that were in pretty bad shape, but I don't think any were quite ready to be condemned.  Tough job you have Jay!


Posted by Steven Pahl, Real Estate Consultant Tampa, FL 813-319-6423 (Keller Williams Tampa Properties) over 9 years ago

I do not understand how people can live that way with small children.  Destroying the home is really a blessing. Will they place the older woman in a rest home?

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) over 9 years ago

I think I'm going to go shower and wash my clothes just from reading this story. I've been in some houses like this that were condemned, but no one was living there at the time. Funny thing is, I was inspecting to supposedly support my clients belief that the house was salvageable. What a mess.

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 9 years ago

Jay, I think this post is great for a reason not yet mentioned by others.  So many people think this doesn't happen in America - this is third world stuff.  Well, it's not - it's here and where are the people who are paid by our tax dollars to help families in need?  Great job getting the truth out - but, as many have said, we have all seen things like this.

Posted by Juli Vosmik, Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739 (Dominion Fine Properties) over 9 years ago

Reminds me of the tenants I had to convict and posted about here a couple of years back...called "Tenants from hell"

Its amazing how som people live. Animals are cleaner

Posted by Michael Murphy (Bienvenidos Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Conor - I honestly could not tell what the floor was made of, concrete or dirt.

Debbie - aren't stories like that so very tragic your heart just melts from pain?  The lack of concern and love.  Nobody in the neighborhood took him under their wing and check in on him, even daily.  That is too, too much.

D&D - they had removed those children a couple of weeks ago, only to return them after the family "cleaned up."  The group had taken the children out on that day knowing the County was coming by.

Missy - I haven't even told much of the story.  It is simply incredible.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Kathy - they have appliances I cannot afford, and eat out every day.  See my post today!

Chris - I will post about the roaches and termites.  How fun that was!

True Steven.  Read the hoarding post I put up today!

Kay - I don't know.  My understanding is that those agents were in the house the rest of the day.  They obviously made some plans.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Scott - whether this house was salvagable or not wasn't the issue!  The owner wanted them out and the house destroyed so she could no longer be burdened by the "system."

Juli - I have said that for years.  We send so much "aid" and money overseas when there is plenty that could be done here to relieve taxpayers of this kind of burden.

Michael - the poor animals in this house were tragically treated.  The whole scene really rocked me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

A sad story on so many levels.   For the children's sake,  I hope that the cycle will be broken and they see that there is another way to live. 

Posted by Sandra Ormerod (Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago

This not a surprise there are alot of homes all over that are in this shape or worst Sad but the plain truth.

Posted by George P. Cruz Sr., PSL FL CDPE, TRC, CIPS (Premier Brokers International) over 9 years ago

What was interesting  was the big screen TVs (you said one in 5 total), maybe paid for the taxpayers. It reminded me of my days in property management many years ago while doing inspections for low income tenants.  They have bigger TVs and full blown cable subscription that I could not even afford myself. They can watch TV all day and night and could not even clean up.... how sad

Posted by Laura Rivera, Your East Bay RE consultant (Coldwell Banker) over 9 years ago

Wow...it's so sad that people living for free on the taxpayers, and the kindness of others can't appreciate what they are given.  It makes me especially sad for the children.  What a waste...

Posted by Karen Steed, Associate Broker Haralson Realty (Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton) over 9 years ago

I'm glad I read this after AFTER easting my meal.


Thanks for posting this.  Very interesting!

Posted by Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty, Homes for Sale Mount Dora Realtor (Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty) over 9 years ago

God bless you, Jay.  I'm sure the emotional nature of the job was as exasperating as the job itself.  I'm wondering if "Life Estates" which most of us only know about from our licensing classes can be written to protect the owner from that kind of abuse.  Of course, he probably never dreamed people would have such a lack of personal responsibility.  Thankfully, the children will probably get a new lease on life.  Thanks for sharing that story.

Posted by Laura Dickenson (The Dickenson Group, Keller Williams) over 9 years ago

I have so many opinions about this story yet I can't seem to figure out where to start. What I can tell you is that I feel very, very sad about the elder lady. Just one shower?

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA over 9 years ago

Homeowner learns.......no good deed goes unpunished. Sad

Posted by David Niles (Niles Real Estate Investments www.NilesREI.com) over 9 years ago

Wow, Jay.  That is ver sad!  I can't believe that there are people that take advantage of the situation so easily.

And so sad for those kids, as they have no choice in the matter!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

Jay, this one is inspiring me to write a post and reference yours. On the one hand I don't how you got through it, on the other, I completely understand and I would have been right behind you in that basement. Somebody had to do it. As for those folks, this way of living cuts across a broader economic spectrum than we usually imagine.  The homeowner surely didn't deserve the ill treatment he got for his kindness.


Posted by Beverly Femia, Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 9 years ago

I've seen this same scenario in inner city properties (regarding the property conditions).  Its unthinkable as to the manner and conditions in which some folks choose to live.  The personal ammenities (TV's , cars, and clothing) are statements of status. It is an amazing story to tell and a sad one at the minimum where our tax contributions are being used for the supporting of this type of squander.  That is not a political statement but a statement of our society.  Looking forward to seeing future posts on this property and the ultimate outcome(s).

Posted by Bill Morrow, Bill Morrow, Associate Broker (Keller Williams of Central PA) over 9 years ago
I don't know why the homeowner didn't take legal action sooner to reclaim the house. If the lady was 86 24 years ago, the life estate has surely ended. Plus, it's obvious that she broke it my not maintaining the house. It looks to me like the homeowner has no one to blame but him/herself.
Posted by Glenn Elliot (ERA Justin Realty Co.) over 9 years ago

If you give people something for free, they usually treat it poorly. It's sad that we have allowed government programs to be abused in this way, and it's sad that the home owner has been abused also. I'll be a little tougher today when people ask for favors.

Posted by Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc (Benchmark Realty LLc) over 9 years ago

Wow! That must have been some day for you, Jay. Not sure where to begin. Not sure how someone can live in that condition with their kids. Hoep they clean up their act.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) over 9 years ago

Hazardous conditions in home are compounding and multiplied in declining markets. BE SAFE and aware, god bless...

Posted by David Evans, HUD NLB Cumming GA (RE/MAX TOWN AND COUNTRY) over 9 years ago

Wow Jay, what a story.  So very sad that it would come to that ending.  Hope your inspections for the rest of the week are plain janes.

Posted by Lawrence Evans (Team Limejuicer/Remax) over 9 years ago
Wow! I always tell people that after being in real estate for a couple of years there's nothing I haven't seen, until now that is. This one takes It. I have never seen anything so disgusting in my life, and to think that 10-12 people lived in those unfit conditions with children for such a long period of time makes my head spin. The true looser here is the homeowner.
Posted by Ricky Callahan, Providing clients with "The Simple Way Home". (Cutler Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Pictures say 1000 words. Wow. Very sad

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta (Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765) over 9 years ago

Jay, gosh darn, what a story!  Thanks for sharing, and great description.  I really felt like I could picture exactly what this home and situation was like.  There are a lot of lessons in this story, but one message tucked inside this story that some will miss is this one:  a welfare society that pays people to live like this steals motivation and discipline from human nature.  The honest-to-God truth is that extreme liberalism is evil, because it encourages and promotes such horrendous living.

Posted by Chuck Marunde, Sequim Real Estate Broker (Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Your words/photos give us and understanding that the place was a mess.  But you used the words "The homeowner and a local County found me on line and teamed up to hire me to literally condemn a house"

yet you stated no structural reason to condemn this home.  Only that is was very dirty.  Dirt can be cleaned up.  Structural problem can be repaired.

Did want to say that the home was found to be unsafe to live in?

"At  the time of my inspection the house is inhabited by 10-12 adults (nobody really knows), four children, four dogs, two pigeons and a million roaches and black widow spiders.  Super healthy molds live everywhere.  There is one bathroom, with a tub and shower that do not work, a small fridge, small range and small, one-bowl kitchen sink.  There is hot water."

I don't see a reason to Condemn a structure and call for its tear down ?

I would say it was unsafe to live in and needs to be cleaned up and require further inspection of the structural condition.






Posted by Ron Bibler (Excellence Exterminating Company, Inc. ) over 9 years ago

It seems strange to say but, that homeowner is lucky she was able to get her property condemned.  The town and the neighborhood are lucky that this house will be gone.  I have seen this same situation where the inhabitants ARE the homeowners and goverment agencies will not move to condemn a house and put the people out on the street.  When people live this way, I am convinced it is mental illness and their "ability and expertise at working the system" is a necessary coping skill to get by in this world.  A sane person would not live in a basement and sit on a sofa with 100 cockroaches as company.  The fact that they have 5 big-screen TV's isn't so much about scamming to buy luxury items as it is about child-like misplaced priorities and lack of functional living skills. It's like eating candy for dinner every night.  And the children they are raising . . . very sad.  I can't believe you went in there at your own personal peril - that was a courageous service you provided.  I hope you are OK. 

Posted by TERRY DRISCOLL, REALTOR - Buy or Sell in Any Season! (MAINE HOME REALTY) over 9 years ago

Jay -- 5 TVs in the house? ,living in squalor, on government assistance, and where is the oversight on this?  That house did not get like that overnight!  ... and they had cleaned up before you arrived?  That was a very dangerous situation for you (coffin with guns?) not to mention what you had to experience and breathe in (yes, where WAS your mask?) Glad you got out of there ok, and I truly hope these people get some much needed direction and counseling...NOT just money!

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Jay, all I can say is YUK, YUK, YUK!!!  I'm currently working on a expert witnesss case involving some manufactued homes that will rival your riviting experience. Not a liberty to share anythign now because the case is still open but I do plan to share it when the time is appropriate. Too bad you had to go through that experience. But thank God you did for that poor homeowner's sake. Too bad there are such low life's in our midst. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 9 years ago


It's amazing what some people will live in. I've been in houses with roaches climbing on everything, bad odors, trash lying on the floors and wonder what happened to these people? How can they accept living in such a place?

Posted by Gary Burleson, Myrtle Beach Homes, Condos, Foreclosures, Investment Propery (Beach Water Realty - www.beachwaterrealty.com) over 9 years ago

Cough! Cough! I think you did everyone a real service!  The family was on a low functioning level and you did everyone a real service to get them out of there!  Maybe there health will improve if they don't live in such unsanitary health conditions.  I think it's like the frog that starts out in the pot of nice warm water and then it slowly goes to boil!  I think they didn't start out this way but the pictures tell it all!

  Thanks for sharing!  Carefree Marilyn

Posted by Marilyn Montaigne (Options and Opportunities ) over 9 years ago

I was in a house a few months ago.  Every room seemed to be a bedroom.  It was a short sale property and in my opinion, the occupants were all living there rent free.  Plenty of televisions and misc. technology throughout the house and cars outside.  More bedrooms in the basement, leaking water heater and black mold could be seen on some of the sheetrock in the basement.  Get this, the agent selling the property also lived in the house!  Your story created many flash backs.

Posted by Kevin Paradis (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

How gruesome for you!  I was amazed at how many comments were sympathetic to the family.  This group of people are career freeloaders, gaming the system, 'entitled' to OUR support, and apparently trying to 'stick it to the cruel, nasty-bad landowner' who wouldn't fix up their FREE digs, that they had been living in FREE for TWENTY-FOUR years, in spite of the owner's attempts to dislodge them.  The lawyers on the 'poor, downtrodden tenants' side,' probably provided pro bono, had managed to perpetuate this horror for this length of time.  These people will now be relocated, at taxpayer expense, to low-income housing, at tax-payer expense, and continue to live on welfare, at taxpayer expense, because the system is set up to reward non-production and punish production (you did say the hapless, soft-hearted homeowner was a doctor, who had obviously worked hard, and just felt sorry for a (spurious) 86-year-old woman)!  I feel for the children - they should definitely be removed from the family's custody.  Unfortunately, if they are, they may well be 'treated' for mental problems with drugs, and so continues the cycle.  You definitely deserved hazard pay on that one.

Posted by Gareth Ellzey (Century 21 Hellman Stribling) over 9 years ago

incredible.....yes it is sad and very dangerous

i am glad you post it ....Good post and good shots

can any living enviroment be worse?

Posted by Jimmy Phan, Phan real estate group in hickory (KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY IN MOORESVILLES, NC) over 9 years ago

This is such a sad, sad story, but one that deserves to be told. There are so many people who take advantage of others, and even of the system! Yet I feel sorry for them, having lived in these conditions!

Posted by Vickie Nagy, Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate) over 9 years ago

What a crazy situation. It makes you wonder how they can live like that. I bet it would have been a lot better if they had just kept the place clean. I don't understand how folks can live likem that...

Posted by Steve Facella (ReMax Prestige) over 9 years ago

Thank you for your story, it breaks my heart to continue to find situations that some children are having living with, parenting is not for all people.  The rules need to be very, very tough on the parents that mistreat their children.  I could go on...

The poor owners, to be so generous and then so abused. You are brave to continue with your inspection, I'm concerned about your cough, a mask could have safed you from some health issues that I hope never really appear!

Didn't neighbors see the situation after all these years?

Posted by Jean DuBoise Metz (J. Rockcliff Realtors) over 9 years ago

And to think there were children living in those conditions, that's heartbreaking.  I hope those children don't have any after effects, like yours, from being in that home.  Wow!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) over 9 years ago

The concern is for the childern. There is no exxcuse for dirty just because they are poor.  The sad news is my guess the adults are mentally sick and that comes at the expensive of the childern.  Hopefully they all will get the help they need.  I know the kids will be better.

Posted by Tamara Schuster, Realtor Broker - Naperville (Naperville Glen Ellyn Lisle Plainfield Wheaton Illinois) over 9 years ago

I'm struck by the number of readers who are not grasping the concept here.  These were not "unfortunate people" who needed help.  They were living rent free for heaven's sake and it doesn't cost anything to keep your d*mn house clean.  This was a scam right from the get-go run by people looking to game the system.  And, there was no "poor little old lady".  She was part of the scam. 

Posted by Joy Baker, So NH RE & Short Sale Specialist (RE/MAX Insight) over 9 years ago

Jay, I thought I was having a bad day, but mine PALES in comparison to yours!  That is such a sad, sad story for those children, and all involved.  Hope you didn't catch anything!!!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 9 years ago

Very sad, but this goes on all over.  Due to too liberal laws and lack of followup this situation will only get worse unless these laws are changed.

Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) over 9 years ago

It's hard to read this and not have preconceived notions of what these people are like. Then I saw the confederate rebel flag on the wall in the basement and really questioned my reaction.

Now I imagine that this family could be any race, creed, or color. Very sad for them and sad that I jumped to conclusions.

Posted by Phil Porter (Charter One Realty) over 9 years ago

That's an unreal story. But I'm sure it's repeated all the time. People continue to amaze me in what they do if they can get away with it. So sad for the homeowner.

Posted by The Derrick Team - Indy Metro Realtors, Your Pet Friendly Realtors (Carpenter Realtors) over 9 years ago

Wow. It is amazing that the home could have been in that poor condition for so long and go virtually unnoticed or just virtually nobody cared. Have you heard what the town did with the people? What about the kids - that must have been a nightmare. the sad thing about this if the children lived there long enough that start to feel that this is normal and start on that down hill treadmill for life..  Sad

Posted by Eric Thomas, The Real Estate Doctor (Cape Cod & Islands Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

what a heart-breaking story - I am so sad for those children!  And 5 TVs - really?? these people sure had their priorities straight didn't they?

Posted by Karen Bernetti over 9 years ago

Such a sad story from a well intentioned home owner's ruined investment to the poor homelife for those kiddos. At least you can rest with your report hopefully creating a better situation for those kids.

Posted by Ricky Beach, Reno Broker/Salesperson/Realtor (Keller Williams Realty Group One Inc.) over 9 years ago

Sounds like it needs to be used by the local fire department as a controlled burn training tool.

Posted by George DiGregorio (Zenith Mortgage Advisors) over 9 years ago

Very sad story - the cockroaches crawling all over makes me want to go take a shower.



Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Sometimes I wonder how people can live like that.  The same thing with horders....I can't watch that TV show.  What ever happened to pride in caring for yourself, not to mention other people's things? 

On another note, I really do hope that your cough gets better soon...and doesn't become more serious.

Posted by Melissa Hailey, Collin County Realtor-Lucas, Murphy, Plano, Parker (North Texas Top Team, REALTORS (Plano, Murphy, Wylie)) over 9 years ago

Glad to know they didn't remove the "do not remove for fear of penalty of death" tags form the mattress.  At least that tells us they were rule followers.  You must have had it all wrong! ;)

Posted by Sally Dunbar, Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale (Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area)) over 9 years ago

If "lawyers" were handling the house the homeowner may have a valid complaint against them. They allowed the residents to let the house deteriorate. The attorneys were not fulfilling their fiduciary duty to the homeowner.

Life estates are rarely a good idea. When I was administering probate estates and guardianships there was a lady who had to be put into guardianship. She had a life estate in a house and did not get along with the remainder beneficiaries. She had very little income but could not be on Medicaid because of the value of the house. She was between a rock and a hard place. The house was falling apart because she had no money to take care of it and she needed to be in a nursing home. The beneficiaries would not agree to buying her out. Don't remember how it was resolved - I think she finally died but it was a terrible situation. If you want to be kind to someone please find another way.


Posted by Martha Matthews Vasquez, Excellent Cutomer Service and Market Knowledge (Coastal Proerties Group Intl, Christies International) over 9 years ago

Sandra - such inter-generaltional cycles are very hard to break once people grow up thinking this kind of behavior is normal.

That's an awful thought, isn't it George?  I'm still reeling from this experience.

Laura - there were lots of new appliances in the house, and cable/internet/phone connections.  And that ain't all!

I agree Karen.  Buried talents, to be sure.  Putting this kind of creativity to work in one's own business or occupation and that person would go far!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Ray & Karen - I am too!  My post today won't help you much either!

Laura - I don't know.  I think there was a lot of snookering going on then, when that gift was written.

Cynthia - one bathroom, but the shower doesn't work.  And I think the older lady is the Big Snookerer!

David - and it still continues.  More problems have cropped up!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jeremy - this is huge.  There is obviously a lot I haven't mentioned about how these people take advantage and it would make you sick. 

Beverly - the homeowner called me today and the plot thickens!  There is much more abuse taken by this homeowner than I have mentioned in the post.

Bill - in a lot of ways our society has become the enabler of such behavior.  My eyes were really opened with this one.

Glenn - I have said very little about all the behind-the-scene machinations, but the homeowner has been in court for over a decade.  The battle is against dueling county agencies, each helping to overcome the other, thus keeping the people in the house at the homeowner's expense.  These agencies are manipulated by some very adept "system" users and have been able to stay, and stay, and stay.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago


The sad thing is more people live in these kind of conditions than any of us would like to admit. Admittedly not as bad as this but certainly not what many of us would call hygenic.

I think almost the bigger issue here is for us to be aware of our personal safety and the safety of realtors. As you rightly said you never know what you are going to walk into. On another note could you email me some of the photos for a worst of the worst presentation I am oputting together i will give you full credit.


Posted by Stuart Simm, The Home Inspector (MAX Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Larry - subsidized activity increases, and taxed activity decreases.  Maybe these kinds of people should be taxed!

Mike - look at my post today for another angle!

Thanks David.  The condition in this house has been declining for decades, no matter the economy!

Lawrence - so far, so good!  All are interesting, but not so much as this one.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay this is a hearbreaking story.  So sad that children are living in this filthy home.  I can only hope the county took them away or made some type of sanitary living conditions for them.  

Posted by Sherri Berry, Murfreesboro TN Homes & Real Estate (Reliant Realty, Murfreesboro) over 9 years ago

Wow, what an awful story. No one wants that type of home on their street. It is very sad for the (innocent) people living in the home. The coffin of guns sends off warning bells that this is not an innocent situation, but the fact that children are involved is very sad.

Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) over 9 years ago

She has lost big Ricky and the yarn continues even today!  The demo is NOT happening, at least not yet.

Sylvie - see my post today for some more photos.  I could not publish them all!

Chuck - nail head hit very well!  See my post here which I posted the day before this inspection!  I did not know just how prescient it was:


Ron - I am describing the circumstance!  I did not get into the report, which is in the hands of the homeowner and County officials.  And I will not get into the report - things are in process.  The report contains many dozens of pages describing, proving and showing, dangerous structural problems caused by abuse and bad habits that have caused structural failure, very dangerous electrical use and abuse, with apparent unprofessional system changes, dangerous oil boiler and its venting, dangerous structural failure due to termite infestation because of a lack of exterior maintenance, hundreds of black widow spiders because of personal habits, dangerous "things" in the house, which I won't go into.  I could go on.  Believe me, there was a lot!  But you are right, in this County unhealthful living conditions do not condemn houses.  There are other reasons for the demolition, which are private to the homeowner and have nothing to do with this group in the house.  LOVE the puppy!  Yorkie?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Thanks Terry, but I went in not realizing the extent of the peril.  Apparently they have tried to get the house condemned before, without the proof as to why.  But, you should know, those residing there are very, very skilled at what they are doing.  Very skilled.  Those TVs weren't all of it!

Barbara - there is a lot going on here that I have not gotten into.  And yes, I should have had my mask!

Thanks John.  I am somewhat in the same boat - I really have not shared much.  But you are right, these people are very, very adept at what they are doing to stay in this house at our expense.

I don't know why either Gary.  They seem to just sink, and sink, and sink.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Marilyn - they will be out of there, but into another circumstance and this cycle will continue.

Kevin - I see that too a LOT around here!  And all those little rooms, or places to sleep, are paying rent!

Gareth - I am afraid society has become the biggest enabler.  As I have said here, these are people who are VERY adept at gaming the system.  It is still going on, even today.  The homeowner called me with questions and gave me the latest!

Jimmy - I don't remember seeing worse.  Thanks for the reblog!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I felt sad for all involved Vickie.  But these situations seem to grow to monstrous proportions!

For sure Steve, this is hard to understand.  I don't get it either.

Jean - the neighbors, and homeowner, are why there have been so many citations issued over the years.  But there have been dueling county agencies, each trying to out do the other.

Jan - they must have built up some incredible immune systems!  I don't know how anyone can live there long term.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Tamara - these are very smart people if they are mentally sick.  And I am told they make much more money than I do, adding all the benefits up.

When a healthy 62 year old can pass herself off as a nearly-dead 86 year old, she is pretty good Joy!  This homeowner realized pretty quickly she was scammed, and what a lesson it has been for her.  These people are VERY adept at using the system(s).

Melissa - I think I'm doing great.  No worries, but I wasn't very smart, that's for sure.  And the report was epic and took hours!

Ric - good luck changing them!  I think society has become a big enabler of such behavior.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

It's sad to see the lengths people go through to take advantage of kindness.  I think the biggest lesson learnt here, is that we have to be very cautious in giving away anything that will still be tied to us.  I now will inform any client who may ever consider doing a life estate, to be sure there is a violation clause attached to it.  Thanks for Sharing.



Posted by Daniel D. Thomas (Daniel D. Thomas) over 9 years ago

Phil - this is Virginia and that flag is everywhere!  It has nothing to do with it though.  These are very smart people and know exactly what they are doing.  I doubt they have a creed though...

Derrick Team - this kind of behavior is in every state, for sure.  And perhaps more rampant than we know!

Eric - I heard today from the homeowner and the plot thickens!  These people are very good at what they do.  And the whole neighborhood cared, and cared and cared, and complained, and complained and complained.  Nothing has been able to get done about it though.  Until this inspection...

Karen - the TVs were not the only high-end appliances!  And brand new too!  It truly is sad.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Ricky - the home is truly worth zero.  There are reasons for the demo however that have nothing to do with these people living there.

George - I suggested that but there are reasons it cannot be done! 

Mel - me too!  It was amazing!  And I had a really long shower!

Thanks Melissa, the cough is better!  Did you see my post today on hoarding?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hello Jay,


Your post reminds me of a very interesting documentary that I saw called "The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia". It is also the tale of the White (that's their last name) family who managed to manipulate the government welfare & disability systems to their advantage, where very well known by local law enforcement, and seemed to live in shamble. Seeing how you are from the very close state of Virginia, your blog and this film have eerie and quite sad similarities.

I appreciate your post as it is still, thankfully, a very unique situation. Even thought that homeowner was not technically renting, it shows the dangers of renting without protecting yourself. I am currently in a similar-type but by no means as incredible situation with a lady renting a home that I partly own with a few associates. We had fixed up the home before she moved in and in the course of three years, the house has gone to pieces. She had government help to pay her rent because she is the single mother of 5 children and receives no help from the father(s). We have received several complaints/fines from the Homeowners' Association and she has almost lost her gov't help because of the condition of the home but i step in and fix things she breaks because it tears my heart to think that those poor kids could end up homeless. It is difficult because I too am working tirelessly to make ends meet.

These situations are definitely one of the cons of being in the real estate business but it is what we do.

Good luck with your business sir...I wish you all the best

Posted by Ismael Betancourt (Century 21 Award) over 9 years ago

Sally - actually I could not see a single mattress!  See my post today!

Thanks Martha.  But this homeowner truly thought, or was made to think, that this lady would be in the house for only a couple of months!

Stuart - thank you!  I have another post today and will have more in the future.  I can't post some of the photos, though, as this process is continuing.  You are welcome to use any in the blogs though.

Sherri - the children have been ping pong balls, back and forth.  They are back now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

It is sad Holly, but all in all these are people who are very, very good at using the system for their own benefits.  The children are the real losers, perhaps thinking this to be normal behavior.

Daniel - there was with this one, but because of circumstances I can't get into the violations were not able to remove the people.

Thanks Ismael.  That's a hard one too!  It's the hard-working types who really get the worst hits it seems!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

So the "elderly" woman was also a scammer?  Didn't the homeowners meet her 24 years ago?  Actually, this is the first time I've heard of a Life Estate Gift, so I don't know what is needed to go through to set something like that up.

I once owned an apartment building in Chicago and one tenant that moved in brought cockroaches that of course went throughout the entire building.  It was horrible.  She also knew how to use the system and she tried suing me several times for different reasons, all of which never made it to court.  Her place was a pig sty.

I can see being uneducated or down on your luck, but I have never been able to understand living in filth.  These people aren't working so they have plenty of time to at least clean their places.  Soap and water are not expensive.  Taking care of piles of clothing and junk does not cost anything.  Yet so many live in squalor.  Some of them have mental problems, but many just don't care, and they raise their innocent children in these awful conditions.

And that's who suffers in a situation like this.  Yes, the homeowner suffered but something isn't right about this scenario from the beginning, IMO.  I feel worse for the kids and hope they get taken care of, although it is doubtful.

Posted by Judy Orr, SW & Near West Chicago suburbs (HomeSmart Realty Group) over 9 years ago

Jay - Yuck!! I'm feeling the creepy crawlies just reading the post.  It sounds like a home nobody should have been living in.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 9 years ago

Judy - of course the homeowner met the old lady 24 years ago, and was convinced she was 86 and not going to last long!  And tragically, the children are growing up being taught that this is normal behavior.

Christine - in a nutshell, that is true!  I still have the creepy crawlies!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

It really doen't matter what the homeowner was led to believe. I am a former paralegal and I worked with great attorneys. If the homeowner relied on attorneys to manage the property he should ask what they did. If he was a client they had a duty to protect him. Was he payng them to manage the property? How did he meet the lady?

Posted by Martha Matthews Vasquez, Excellent Cutomer Service and Market Knowledge (Coastal Proerties Group Intl, Christies International) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay,

Firstly I’m as amazed as everyone, but on the bright side it’s nice you’re ok and your cough subsided.

So you mean to tell me, a doctor (the good Samaritan home owner) could not figure out that the lady claiming to be 86 years old and on her death bed, was really 62 and was the brains behind this operation…!!!???...and now 24 years later she’s still around. Unbe-freakin-lievable!!!!

What an amazing story!

Posted by Dimitri Matsis-REALTOR® (818) 599-6083 (Troop Real Estate Inc. Westlake Village CA) over 9 years ago

The property wasn't managed by attorneys Martha.  And the homeowner was not in state.  Family was going to maintain the property, per the gift, but that never happened.  I don't know all the particulars!

Dimitri - these are people very, very adept at what they do!  She told me she is 86 but "won't see 87!"  The County official sitting there rolled her eyes!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I wouldn't be surprised if DCF wasn't called into this situation, since it's obvious that the condition is not suitable for children. Disgusting.

Posted by Pam Graham, Jacksonville, Clay & St Johns Counties (All Real Estate Options) over 9 years ago

I think it's called Child Protective Services here Pam, but not sure who handles this.  These kids have apparently been removed and brought back many times.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

That is sad that the house had to be condemned. I am glad the county is doing the right thing. What an experience for you Jay.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) over 9 years ago

I had a few bad ones but nothing to compare with that. I'm not sure I would have gone in.

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

That is appalling! I had a cough just reading your post... hope you never have to visit a house in that kind of shape.


Posted by Monique Ting, Your agent under the sun (INET Realty Honolulu, HI) over 9 years ago


I know the feeling I am registored with DFACS in Georgia and have had to do a couple of those same type of inspections including a court appearance.  We can only report on what we see and sometimes it is pretty rough..

Posted by Chuck Tolbert (All Star Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

I'm a bit shocked at the comments voicing pity for the occupants. What?? Pity for the children perhaps, because they are learning that this is the way to live. But pity for any of the adults? Not me. 

These people are leeches on society, taking advantage of the homeowner who thought she was doing a good deed for a dying woman with no place to go. How that woman convinced her that she was 86 when she was 62 is a real puzzle, but...

Nobody HAS to live in squalor. Nobody HAS to sit on their backsides watching a big screen TV all day. Nobody HAS to destroy the house they're living in. Nobody HAS to take advantage of others.


Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 9 years ago

Loreena - not one I want to do often, but amenable if that's what the occassion calls for.

Marshall - yes you would!  Especially with County muscle and you would have been smarter than I in having a mask!

Monique - cough, things are, cough, fine now though!  Thanks, it was a really mind-opening experience.

Chuck - observe and report.  I had to document everything, of course, and the report was epic.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

My heart goes out to the children who at the mercy of adults who should know better.   Hopefully they are now on the County's radar and will never be exposed to such dreadful conditions again. 

Posted by Judi Monday, CRS-Green Valley AZ Expert, Green Valley Arizona R (RE/MAX Valley Properties) over 9 years ago

It just shocks me how people live in these types of environments.  I feel bad for inspectors, so many of the properties out there nowadays are awful to inspect and I think you got the worst one!  I hope you feel better soon.

Posted by Patricia Beck, Colorado Springs Realty (RE/MAX Properties, Inc., ABR, GRI, SRES) over 9 years ago

I don't know Judi.  But I will have involvement with that County official and will ask when I can.

Patricia - thank you ma'am!  But I am fine.  Cough...

I have to admit, this was the worst I have ever seen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay~ this is an amazing story. I was thinking a different kind of dangerous when I read the title.  But you must be careful in your job too, you just never know.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 9 years ago

Hello Jay:

I have not read the comments so I am unbiased by the response.  I think your post and your inspection took courage. We know these things exist and in our business we run across them occasionally. I had a couple like this in Boston MA before I relocated. I am glad this was featured to help reveal the plight.

Posted by Brian Rugg, Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est (Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700) over 9 years ago

I know of another person that had a home in much worse condition than what these pictures show.  I had to go into that home to deliver something.  Sadly it was one of my family members.  I have not been back to their home since.  They did move out of that house but I doubt if they keep their current home any better.  It is just a sad situation.

Posted by Rocky Dole (Revelation Real Estate) over 9 years ago

JAY, I like your style and I love your values. When I visited the very very poor in Africa I was struck by their dignity although they are some of the most impoverished people in the world. Each women of every household posessed one clean set of brightly colored clothes. She kept her hair clean (somehow) and her chin up. They looked me in the eye. Their thatched roof huts had a dirt floors that they swept daily. They were generous with what little they owned. They had PRIDE. I realized from those brave and resourceful Africans that they possessed a quality few of the American (poor) had;freedom from poverty of the mind. They know who God is and that they are his children. So, they get off their backsides everyday and gather firewood, or sell trinkets for pennies a day, because they believe God expects them to. Their PRIDE tells them to never beg, borrow or steal!

Love your story Jay. A reminder to me that there is a difference between empowerment and enabling.

Posted by Steve Ellis (Smokies Investors Real Estate & Auction) over 9 years ago

Sometimes, it is frightening to be in these situations. My phone list now includes a number for a "hoarding specialist", animal control offices, and a number for social services! I never would have thought these would be part of ny business!

Posted by Hank Richter (HomePro Inspections of RI) over 9 years ago

Wow!  That is not a typical inspection and I did not know this could happen.  Did the people living there have to let you in?  Sounds like they needed some help anyways.

Posted by Jeremy Joslin, Professional Real Estate Marketing and Sales (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

OH. MY. GOSH.  Wow.  That makes the typical spiderwebs getting caught in my hair while inspecting a basement sound like a spa treatment.

Posted by Julie Babcock -Nook & Cranny Home Inspections (Nook & Cranny Home Inspections Tonawanda, NY) over 9 years ago

This story makes me both Sad and angry. Sad that someone would take advantage of an owner like that and angry that we have a pubic assistance sytem which allows itself to be milked by lazy people. The next time I pay my quarterly taxes, im sure that this story will come to mind.

Posted by Chris Eckert Real EstateTeam, Selling the Mid-Peninsula Realtor (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Good luck with that cough.

Posted by Michael Singh,Broker (Singh Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Sandy - it was dangerous more ways than one.  One of the men there was pretty frightening.

Thank you Brian.  There is more I could share, for sure.  Some of this is still in process and I can't reveal things right now.  But this is a mess for sure.  I am still a little rocked by it!

Rocky - my post on hoarding is about this house.  What I haven't revealed was all the dangerous stuff going on!  Those would be really frightening pictures too!

Steve -  Thank you.  I think that in a lot of ways our society enables this kind of behavior.  Which is partly why it has taken so much effort to try to get these people out of the house.  I got a call from the homeowner and the plot thickens!  These are individuals very good at gaming the system.  I too lived in a mud hut in South America and slept on a grass mat as a missionary in the 70s.  Those were very clean and dignified people also, despit living with a dirt floor and walls.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hank - the County officials said nothing about hoarding, so I don't think there is anything here that organized regarding it.  Who would know who is hoarding?  It seems you run into it a lot!  This was my second such experience, but the first was in a house where the elderly owner had passed over a year prior to my inspection.

Jeremy - yes, they were nice to me because they thought I was there to slam the homeowner and get stuff "fixed."

Hey Jules - I'll call you for the next one!  We'll go together!  You look high and I'll look low...  The basement was really, really humid!

Spider webs you say?  That's what most of the basement looked like!  See all the eggs in all that mess.  I looked them up later and I think they are black widow egg sacks.  There were black widows everywhere!

That's the boiler "room"!!!  I couldn't get to the boiler for all the stuff.  See my next post on hoarding!

I agree Chris.  Two entities at odds with each other and the one is supposed to serve the other!

Thanks Michael.  We be better!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I am always amazed a tthe way some people are capable of living- I may let a little dust settle (a week or two at most)- but then I do a  very deep cleaning and it is spotless again....  I am still amazed!!!

Posted by Shanna Hall, I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311 (Real Estate Solutions) over 9 years ago

Shanna - it is very unhealthy, to say the least, to let such stuff go like that.  But the lifestyle that comes with it is just the same...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Tragic living arrangments, and it is amazing what some people will tolerate and then subject their children to.  How disheartening that people are so cruel, both to the children and to the landlord.

Posted by Jenifer Lower, Your Dream. Our Passion. (Bozeman Montana Real Estate .net) over 9 years ago

I was honestly sad, Jenifer, for lots of reasons.  What a society we have enabled!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

What an appalling situation. It sounds like there were leeches too. That family taking advantage of the older woman. I hope they've found a decent place to live, away from those filthy people.

Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Wow, what a mess!  The kind-hearted owner will at least have his property back that he can then either sell or rebuild.  Such a sad story.  I hope your cough is better.

Posted by Elyse Berman, PA, Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR (Best Connections Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

What a horrible place for children to be living!!! Whatever is making you cough has probably caused permanent damage to the children. And sleeping next to an oil burner!!! What is wrong with people???

I've seen some deplorable home conditions myself, but none that bad.

Posted by Jamie King, Sandusky, OH (Hoty Enterprises, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Karen - 24 years ago the old woman said she was 86 and about to die...  She said that to me the other day!  Same words!  This is a very adept group at manipulating the system for their benefit!

The intent is to demolish Elyse.  But the homeowner called me yesterday to say that the plot had thickened!  As I said, these are VERY adept people.

Jamie - nor have I, and Northern Virginia is the richest area in the country, generally.  They really crammed people in there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I really like the part where they are receiving way into 5 figures worth of tax dollars every month. That is just plain awesome!


Posted by Jayson Holland, Jay Holland (Listings.com) over 9 years ago


That is sad.  Sad for the kind homeowner and sad for the kids forced to live like that.  I am sure there is much more to the story I have not heard.

When I was an insurance adjuster I once went to inspect the damage from a broken water heater.  I stuck my head in the water heater closet to get a better view and some pictures.  I was sick for 3 days.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 9 years ago

It is Jayson, and they are entitled, don'tcha know!  The system sucks, but it will break.  And when it does, watch out!  People like this will feel entitled to go into the homes of the "rich" to claim their stuff!

Gene - I truly was sad at the end of this.  Both for everyone here and our society which enables this crap.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay: Oh, my. In my previous life I worked in a municipal court and we had many tragic cases come through the door involving what we called "zoning people". On TV today they call them hoarders, but whatever you call it it usually involves an individual or individuals with mental illness. Sad. Carrie

Posted by Carrie Sampron, ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R (Home Smart Realty Group) over 9 years ago

This was my first experience with active hoarding Carrie.  I am wondering how much of a problem this is becoming!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago
I can't believe people are willing to live like that, especially with children. I couldn't imagine letting my children anywhere near that house.
Posted by Natalie Myslinski, BPOR, SFR over 9 years ago

Natalie - I might say that the rest of the neighborhood agrees with you!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, I'm a little late to the party.  I came by way of Debbie Walsh's post and both your stories appalled me and shocked me.  Sorry that you are both suffering some aftereffects from your ordeals.  As to the tenants, or rather leeches in your condemned property,m it might be more helpful if the tenants themselves could be condemned, not just the property.  I've no sympathy for folks like that, that can value 5 flat screen TV's over their own good health and the health of their children.  I'd like to think that they're mentally deranged but I think that that would just be a cover up for their meanness.  Yet, our society supports their behavior and enables it with all the handouts we give these lowlifes. 

 I'm so glad you were able to get them out of there and I'm so glad that the county provided you with protection going in there. Hope you'll be feeling as good as new soon.

Posted by Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528, Real Estate Salesperson (Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956) over 9 years ago

Leah - would that condemning tenants was possible!  Agreed, I think we have become enablers as a society.  And thanks, I feel fine now.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay ~ about the only thing I can say is, "ewww".  I hope the cough is much better.  I've walked out of houses itching all day because of the filth.

Posted by Dawn A Fabiszak, The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience! (Private Label Realty ( Denver metro area, Colorado) over 9 years ago

Thanks Dawn.  It was a big ew!  And yes, the cough is better!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Yes, I have shown properties like this.  So sad!

Posted by Dale Taylor, Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos (Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois) about 9 years ago

It really was frightful Dale.  There were many posts to follow, with this as the most recent:


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

That's horrifying.  And it seems the group living there had no respect for themselves at all. 

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) about 9 years ago

Themselves or anyone else Chris Ann.  They take advantage of everyone they see it seems.  And are very good at it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

I'm always amazed how people live. I am a Landlord and have seen some bad situations, but nothing like this!

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) over 8 years ago

This was a disaster Wayne.  There is a follow-up post about how the County razed the house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

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