Have you ever shown a home with one feature that was so odd, you can't seem to get it out of your mind?
My very first client was a buyer. We'd been searching for awhile and he really wanted to see one particular house near downtown Austin that had come up on the MLS.
It was the size and price range he was interested in and two lots up from a major intersection. We could see that the neighborhood was a bit run down but that was OK. Cosmetics can be fixed.
When we got to the house, a cleaning crew was hard at work, taking care of what looked like a disaster had hit the place. There was dirt everywhere. The carpets were stained, the linoleum chipped, the appliances grimey and the overall smell, not exactly what one might call inviting. This house was, in a word, trashed. That is not unusual in real estate, right? We come across distressed properties all the time. But I was unprepared for what I saw next.
"Have you gone outside yet?" my client asked.
"No. Is the yard OK?" I responded.
"You've got to see this," he said. "It cannot be described."
Before I could run away, my eyes landed on a horrible sight. Leaning against the side of the house was a 5x8 foot board with approximately a dozen squirrel skins nailed on to it, curing in the hot sun.
"I hope this is not part of the sale," the client said.
With that, we high tailed it (!!) out of there as soon as we could, both creeped out by what we had just seen, but bonding over it for weeks afterwards.
Austin is not a backwater town by any means. In fact, it's very sophisticated with lots of culture. But here in the country where I live and work, about a half hour away, it is very common to see critter's heads mounted on a wall, the bounty of a hunter's hobby. Coming to Texas from Seattle this used to startle me, all those eyes following me around a home, imploring me to bring them an offer. While I admittedly don't love seeing dead animal heads, I am used to it now. It's part of the culture. Got it.
But I cannot figure why anyone would have something like this, let alone leave it for potential buyers to see. Was it road kill? Was someone making a cheap version of Daniel Boone hats to sell on eBay? Wouldn't the kids miss their dead pet squirrels? I often ponder this rhetorically, but don't really want an answer.