Snakes on the Plain: Infested Home Still Seeks Buyer
But, hey, if you like snakes, whether as a pet, as a belt, or as a hearty springtime bowl of snake soup, the five-bedroom, one-bath home can be yours at a deep discount. Chase Bank, which owns the Salem, Idaho, home after the last owners, Amber and Ben Sessions, defaulted, is asking $109,200, about $66,000 less than it is estimated to be worth sans snakes.
Yes, the home is actually for sale -- with full disclosure. But don't go looking for the listing on the MLS. The bank yanked it, presumably after the home-turned-snake-den was getting too much publicity after a local news broadcast caught the eye of Animal Planet, which in January told the family's story on the show, Infested.
The listing agent, Todd Davis of Realty Quest, had granted several media interviews after the home went on the market Dec. 6, but by Jan. 27, the listing was pulled, and the broker was told to refer all calls about the home to a Chase Bank representative.
A spokesperson for Chase named Darcy confirmed today to AOL Real Estate that it is still looking
The Sessionses purchased the 2006-rebuilt home out of foreclosure for $175,000 in late summer 2009. Under two owners before, a 1920s home had burned down and this one was built from its frame. It's during that construction that some think the snakes roamed in.
Although the Sessions had heard what they thought were rumors about snake roommates, they told local NBC affiliate, KPVI News 6, they never received confirmation. When they and their children moved in in August, all was well for two weeks.
"From there on out, we killed or caught about 40 of them," Ben Sessions said. "We started seeing tracks under the crawl space underneath our house which isn't very big and not very accessible." And when he went to tap the soffit overhang on the house, "you could hear [snake] scales going every which way. It kept getting more and more disturbing, when we were asleep at night, oh my word, we could hear them in the walls."
But it was more than just noise. They felt their health was at risk from these otherwise harmless garter snakes. "I had dealt and smelt enough snakes by then that the water tasted just like the snakes taste," the now-father of three said. "We had a newborn coming to us in a few months, so we just had to get out of there."
Located in a rural area outside of the town of Rexburg on almost 1.75 acres, the main level of the home has a family room with a propane fireplace, a kitchen with a center island, three bedrooms and a full bath. Another two bedrooms on the upper level have access to a three-quarter bath, and a spacious family room. There's also a two-car attached garage with side entry. (Pictures below.)
"I've been in it several times and I've never seen any snakes in it, but I've seen pictures," Tony Stallings, an area agent who has not had any involvement with the sale of the home, told AOL Real Estate. "Most agents have not seen anything there."
Snakes come out more at night, which could be part of the reason others have not witnessed them. But also, according to snake experts, late August through early October are when little garter snake babies are born, which could be why the Sessions heard more of a rumbling that time of year. The average litter size is about 23, with some live litters recorded as high as 60 and 85 offspring ranging in size from about five inches to nine inches.
Also, snakes hibernate in their den in the colder months. Unfortunately though for the home at 675 W 5000 North, that snake den is believed to be under the home.
It is not uncommon for people to see snakes in and around their home, especially if a snake den is nearby. A prior set of owners, the Ards, who purchased the home for $190,000, caught them on their patio, under the side of the house, and slithering up the exterior, and then put them in buckets to prove they existed, as seen in this YouTube video.
Although some people think the home should be torn down, Stallings, who has never shown the home to any prospective buyers, told AOL Real Estate in a phone interview, "I wouldn't tear it down. There is probably someone who would buy it, so long as they are well aware of the issue there. Some people love snakes." (And don't forget that big bowl of snake soup. I hear it tastes just like egg drop soup, just chunkier.)
He said if he had the listing, he'd keep making price reductions until there was a bite. Um, a purchase offer.
Sheree R. Curry, who keeps a fairly kosher home and thus has never had snake soup, is a three-time award-winning journalist who has covered real estate for six years. During her 20-year career, her articles have appeared regularly in the Wall Street Journal, TV Week, and Fortune. She's been writing for AOL Real Estate since 2009 from a Minneapolis-area rental. She seeks a book publisher -- or at least a lender who'll give a reasonable mortgage rate to a self-employed mom.
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