Most Unexpected Discoveries in Vacant Houses – You’ll Wanna See This!

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I’ve bought and sold Thousands of Homes. Been inside many others that we decided not to buy. The majority of them are either vacant when we get them under contract, or vacant at the time of our inspection just prior to purchase. Thankfully, most of the time they are indeed vacant when they are supposed to be.

But that’s definitely not always the case.

The House is Alive!

I’ve tripped across lots of unexpected squatters, trespassers, and estranged family members who were surprisingly in homes that we were told would be vacant. Most of the time they are just looking for a place to crash, and they leave quickly & quietly once we discover them. Occasionally they are more aggressive. One trespasser pulled a knife on one of our workers just last week, when he was found inside one of our vacant houses.

Depending on who and what that we find in the house, we may need to report it to an authority or organization. I have called CPS (Child Protection Services) when I found a young girl in a vacant house we had just purchased. She was there in the living area, in an unfamiliar home that was void of food, utilities, furniture, and even her parents.

The little girl was apparently left there to ‘hang out’ while her parent went to run errands?!?! And it gets even worse – as I looked around the house, I found an unrelated male squatter sleeping off his high in one of the closets. I altered my schedule for the afternoon and waited outside with the girl, until CPS and the police showed up.

Sometimes I’m surprised by other living things, that aren’t humans. We have bought numerous houses where the residents have – very sadly – left behind their pets. I’m talking over 30 cats in one house, which is a story unto itself. Other former family members that we’ve found abandoned by their owners include a plethora of dogs over the years, a rabbit in a cage, and even a snake in an attic.

We have called animal rescue services often, in response to pets left in the house. When rescue services are backed up or unable to provide timely help, we have stepped in and gone back to the houses over the ensuing days to give food and water to the orphaned animals.

Not Alive, but Still Scary or Unexpected

When it comes to inanimate objects, we have ‘inherited’ lots of drug paraphernalia, sex toys, swords, and various kinds of firearms.  Here is a picture of two handguns and ammunition that we found in an attic, as we were preparing to remodel the house.  We contacted the local police department to take them so they could determine if they had been used in any crime and could be disposed of appropriately.


We have encountered our share of disgusting stuff as well.  We’re talking about one house that had over 20 pigs that had been living inside the home with the owner for several weeks after we purchased it. Unfortunately, the seller left it to us with pig feces and urine all over the floors.  Perhaps more disturbing was a house we bought in a nice part of Glendale, AZ.  It hadn’t had working plumbing in over 5 years, leading to our discovery of hundreds of plastic shopping bags of human feces in the back yard.  Not to mention the pile of feces on the dining room carpet! I will spare you from any pictures of that house…

In an upper-middle-class section of Chandler, we found a living room with a big fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and uh… 5 huge dog cages.  There were also large hooks anchored in the walls, with chains attached to them, to let the dogs get some exercise outside the cage, but inside the house.  Fortunately, the dogs had left with the owner.  Needless to say, the house smelled horrible and the doors and drywall had been chewed up by the large dogs.

So I’m used to being wary and cautious when entering a supposedly vacant house.  You just don’t know what you might find.

But What About Your Most Unexpected Discovery in a Vacant House?

I had received an inquiry from a seller who had a newer house in a highly desirable area of town.  The owner had left it, fully furnished, about two years before and no one had been in the house since.  He mailed me keys and I went to check it out.

I took pictures as I walked through the quiet house, ending up in the last bedroom, on the far side of the entrance.  I photographed the bed and desk area and was about to leave when I noticed 3 metal pulleys bolted in, high up on the wall, behind an accordion-type room divider.  Here’s what I found once I pulled the divider to the side…

It may sound odd, but this discovery really freaked me out!!  Given the situation, where the house had been ‘cleared’ of humans and animals in my mind, I just really wasn’t expecting them to be ‘looking’ at me.  And to be so lifelike!  It was…interesting.

Just to cap it off, I then noticed some boxes nearby the ladies,  which turned out to contain clothing, wigs, and even spare heads for the dolls…

We ended up buying the house, and shipping the ladies, along with their spare parts and couture, over to the seller’s current residence…

The house was remodeled and sold a few months later, but this episode really struck me and has topped my list as my #1 most unexpected discovery in a vacant house.

Pigs, firearms, and sex dolls.  I wonder what we’ll find next…

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If you’d like to discuss your specific Real Estate situation with me, feel free to contact me at or 602-538-7331

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