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My worst nightmare when walking in to a home for a preview happened this week

It finally happened, my worst nightmare! I had some clients call me the other day to list their home that had been a rental for the past 5 years. We met at the office, quickly went over the comps in the area and then were going to go over to the home for pictures and measurements as the renters had finally moved out the night before.

As we drive up, I compliment my client on how clean the home looks on the outside and how this was going to be great for selling it as the curb appeal was amazing! He said "Thanks, I have a service come out every Friday and take care of the property. I don't want the neighbors to be upset or even know it is a rental. That usually makes a neighborhood worth less and I didn't want that to be my property."

I thought that was pretty cool! So, we pull into the driveway and walk up to the house and the first thing we see s what looks like a screwdriver mark on the deadbolt. That's a little weird! But, we proceed to go inside and are just overwhelmed by a horrible smell! It smelled like a house with 50 cats and no litterbox! The only problem was these people didn't have any pets!

We got out of there as we just couldn't handle the smell even long enough to take pictures or measure and had to re-group outside and figure out what was going on. I originally thought it was just really strong cleaning products, but then someone walked up while we were there and they startled us! They asked, "Where Jimmy?" "Ahhh, Jimmy doesn't live here anymore, he moved and we don't know where."

That is when we figured it out! This was a drug house and they had used it to manufacture Meth. His $289,000 home, just dropped to $125,000 in less than 20 minutes. It was my worst nightmare to have to tell this client that he was going to have to call the EPA and have this house basically condemned! We called the police, who came out and confirmed our suspicions and gave us the number to the EPA and told us we had to have the house boarded up by the end of the day to avoid being fined.


photo couresty of Orin Optiglot

The lesson here, is if you walk in to a house that smells of ammonia and don't see any sign of pets, get out and get out fast!




Respect Realty LLC (Expect More)


At Respect Realty, LLC our agents believe in 100% dedication to client satisfaction.  We specialize in property and land acquisition around the Portland Metro and Vancouver, WA area. We delight in working with first time home buyers and sellers to guide them from start to finish. Our doors are always open and we are always happy to assist you with your real estate questions.


Reach out today, we look forward to talking with you!


Todd Clark and Seraina Aguayo (Owners of Respect Realty)

Respect Realty LLC (Expect More)



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Comment balloon 40 commentsRespect Realty LLC • March 29 2008 02:14PM


Wow! What a nightmare!
Posted by Amanda S about 11 years ago

Wow  - what a horrible experience!  I really feel for your owner!

Tina in Virginia

Posted by Tina Merritt, Virginia Real Estate (Nest Realty) about 11 years ago
How tragic, this is a nightmare for everyone involved - including the neighbors. But the homeowner gets stuck with the clean-up.
Posted by Bonnie & Terry Westbrook, Grand Rapids MI Real Estate (Westbrook Realty) about 11 years ago
Todd- Wow, that must have been horrible for your client. I hope he can get it cleaned up and be able to sell it.
Posted by Pam Joffe (Solaris Realty) about 11 years ago
OMG, I thought you were going to say there was a dead body in there! What a scary story!
Posted by Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop, A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990! (RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker) about 11 years ago
Okay, you have justed topped the worst experience that I have ever heard yet. Glad you were all safe, that could have turned into a very bad situation. Thanks for the story. I will always remember this one and share it with others.
Posted by Michelle Sims (Casa Grande Realty) about 11 years ago
How about if it reeks of ammonia and there are pets.....hmmm I guess it could be both....But you're right about the nightmare.......I live in an area out in the country that has had some reputation over the last few years of having been a 'grow up' destination, very conducive private surroundings for lots of properties.........but we're talking primarily 'pot' if a place is busted and condemned....if the 'owner' has property insurance........minus the deductible ...this kind of a catastrophic situation could be remedied.......provided he was in no way linked to his tenant's line ...ummm...of work......
Posted by Liz Moras, B.A., Associate Broker Chilliwack (Vancouver), B.C. about 11 years ago
That is so horrible for your client.  I have a rental home and this is my biggest fear after going in there one day and smelling something funny.  The next visit it was ok though, but it still made me wonder. 
Posted by Kim Peasley-Parker (AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc.) about 11 years ago

The homeowner is lucky to have the home still even, Meth is very volitile and the home/ neighboorhood could of went KABOOM real fast, not to mention had the tenant been busted and the home seized by police the homeowner (in some states anyway, I know Michigan is 1) could lose the property and even face jail time themself as it is their property and illegal activity is going on in their property. My parents know a guy who bought a home from a city here in MI that was seized for Meth manufacturing and distribution. He got it for like $4,000 and it was the biggest 2 or 3 story home in the area not even a mile from a high school. He had to completely gut the home within so long and redo everything and pay a bunch of fines they never told him about and different things that almost made him lose the home back to the city after he was almost done fixing it up.

Also you can not just "clean-up" meth. It is a very hard and long process many times it calls for completely gutting the home, and cleaning even the studs and plywood that is under the brick/siding/or wood exterior, and then redoing the entire interior with new drywall, and everything. Deoending on the size of the home might even bee easier to doze it and build a brand new one.

Posted by Chris Horton (Horton's Lawn Care L.L.C.) about 11 years ago
That's horrible. I am glad you got out quickly, but what a mess. Thanks for this important information. Just sorry for you and especially your client.
Posted by Wendy Montoya, REALTOR® Broker Associate, 254-315-4906 (Towne Adams REALTORS) about 11 years ago
This is just horrible, Todd, I feel bad for you and your clients. What a terrible and selfish thing those tenants did to people who trusted them with their property.  I hope he does not get into any trouble either. IT is so unjust that a landlord can be held responsible in some states! Just keep empowering the bad guys with a loack of accountability. 
Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) about 11 years ago
Todd, That's terrible!! I feel for the owner. This is going to cost him big bucks. Meth labs are quite common in my area but fortunately I've yet to run into one. They are extremely dangerous. Glad to her you guys got out quickly. Keep us abreast of what happens here.
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) about 11 years ago
What an experience.
Posted by Kay Perry (Kay Perry, Broker) about 11 years ago
Wow!  What a bummer, both for you and your clients.  Maybe cats would have been better!
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 11 years ago

Oh, how horrible!!!!!

I had a similar situation a few years ago. I had a property listed that was vacant. I always check on my vacant listings once a week or so, usually first thing on a Saturday or Sunday morning (easy to drive around town at that time). So, one Sunday at around 7:30am, I opened the lockbox of the listing and started to unlock the door. Before I could, a young guy opened it for me, with a piece of pizza in his hand and a smile on his face.

He said that Steve (my seller) had rented the place to him the week before. I was pretty annoyed with Steve for not telling me there were renters, so I called him a few hours later and started to give him hell (nicely) about it. He had no idea what I was talking about.

So, $25,000 and three months later, we put the place back on the market. It did sell, but at a nasty loss.

Just line 'em up and shoot 'em. Sorry - that's how I feel. I don't care if they want to kill themselves with that nasty crap, but don't mess with other people's property!!!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) about 11 years ago
Wow Todd, This is an awful situation. I cannot imagine but I do know it happens. Here in NH the question is on the Sellers Disclosure "has this home ever been found to have a meth lab?" This has to be one of the worst stigmatisms to a property - might as well tear it down and sell the lot.
Posted by Judy Tuscano, NH Real Estate Professional (Prudential Verani Realty) about 11 years ago
OUCH! Texas has added an item to our state seller's disclosure asking the seller if it has ever been used to manufacture methamphetamines. what is this world coming to? I'm praying I don't have this same nightmare. Best of luck to you and your seller!
Posted by Kim Dean, d + b real estate, McKinney, TX REALTOR Broker/Own ( about 11 years ago
Todd, what a nightmare for your client. My husband picks rent up at several of our homes, nice to have an idea of what's going on at your property. Judy, I hope we don't see the day when the seller's disclosure asks if there's ever been a meth lab. 
Posted by Debbie Malone, From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369 (Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management) about 11 years ago


 Oh that is really terrible! Both of you are victims in this mess. The government really leans heavy on the homeowner. Thank you for sharing your experience and warning. We do have meth lab disclosures here in Ca. 

Posted by Windy Hixson, Riverside Ca~h2o Homes Specialist (MOVE HOME REALTY) about 11 years ago
This is good information to know.  This is frightening and I would be nervous about going into a house and possibly breathing that stuff.
Posted by Darleen McCullen, Broker - Raleigh, NC Real Estate about 11 years ago
WOW! I wasn't expecting this when I was ready! I figured it was just a crappy house! Wow and very scary!
Posted by LaNita Cates (REMAX of Joliet) about 11 years ago
How sad for the owner.  I would never have known what the smell was or what to do.  Great job of being on the ball. 
Posted by Bob Cumiskey, US Army Retired, Your Sun City Center, Florida ~ Realtor (A1 Connection Realty, Inc.) about 11 years ago


If that does not sound like a nightmare.


Tom Braatz

Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) about 11 years ago
Todd, wow I feel for your sellers. I've never run into a meth lab. But, I have read on them. Not on our disclosure forms in Michigan. Interesting comment about about burning the house down. Let us know what the end result is.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) about 11 years ago
Thanks for stopping by my post on the same subject.  This drug is devastating our society and most haven't even seen it yet.  I'm afraid the costs in the future in going to be enormous.
Posted by David Holden, DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit (DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector) about 11 years ago
That just bites.  How sad.  I had an agent that had one of those homes. Expensive to clean up...but you are better off getting it cleaned up yourself than reselling and having someone else do it.  Just better get the cash.
Posted by Utah Dave, Homes for Sale - Utah ( Neighborhood Experts) about 11 years ago

Amanda - It really is, but you do have to wonder if me or that buyer are going to have any long term affect by even walking in to that house.

Tina - They ended up selling that house for $100,000 to a company that was going to burn down the house and build something there. I wasn't involved in the sale as I didn't know what disclosures where going to be needed and didn't want to risk my license.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Bonnie - They didn't get stuck with the clean up, but they did get stuck with a $100,000 loss on the property from when they bought it.

Pam - It was sad, but no they couldn't the clean up cost would have added up to $210,000 and it still would have been listed as a meth house. It just wasn't worth it to him and he actually made more by doing what he did than had he fixed it up.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Colleen - OK, I guess there would have been something worse than a drug house, I haven't ran in to that yet, but I'm certainly not counting it out.

Michelle - With that person coming up to buy drugs it certainly could have been. I still wonder about the long term affects watching these people in full body suits go in to these places.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Liz - Isn't pot legal in Canada?

Kim - I wonder if there is way to get insurance for this type of damage done by a renter.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Chris - You are so right it is very hard to clean up, here pretty much the only way to get the house taken off the meth registry list is to burn it down and build a new home.

Wendy - Don't feel sorry for me, it didn't ruin my life like it did him financially.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Katerina - I think in states where the landlord can be held responsible for stuff like this, the citizens should pass a law that if any politican breaks a law within the walls of city hall or the state capital all of them should have to go to jail. (Make the same amount of sense)

Bryant - It was sad that he had to pretty much give the property away! Since then they have passed a law that you have to clean up the property within six months or start being fined by the city.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Erica - Nope, nope that certainly wasn't it! (but you are right that would be bad also)

Kay - One that I hope to never have to re-live with a landlord.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Patricia - Cats certainly would have been better!

Jennifer - I'm with you on that one... Line 'em up!

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Judy - That is what this person pretty much ended up doing.

Kim - We have the same thing on our disclosures now.. Might as well put on the disclosures "Do you agree to discount this property $200,00 because it was a drug lab?"

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Debbie - I have started to have landlords I know pay for maid service once a week to just check on the property.

Windy - The should go after the manufactures!

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Darleen - We didn't know and I have thought about it many times since that day.

LaNita - I think we are going to be seeing more and more of this as the economy gets worse.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Bob - I heard about it couple nights before and if I hadn't who knew how long we would have stayed in that house breathing that crap.;

Tom - I feel so sorry for the loss my client had to take on that home.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Missy - They didn't have to burn it down, but the new owners did. But, of course that is what they were planning when they bought it.

David - I bet you run into it a lot more often than we do as agents.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Dave - It was just way to expensive here to clean up with all the little laws and even with clean up the house would be on the meth registry list.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

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