It's hard to sell a home that's been reduced to a smoldering crater

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential

Visiting properties, yesterday, with new clients.

One of them went down to the basement, and called up the stairs "There's a strong smell of gas down here".

My first thought, of course, is to respond "I haven't even been in the basement yet.  It wasn't me!"  I barely managed to keep from blurting that out.

I followed downstairs, and sure enough... a very strong smell of natural gas emanating from the furnace room.  Clearly a gas leak on the furnace or the pipes serving the furnace.  Not a good thing, and as this was a vacant property, I immediately notified the listing agent, and we exited the property quickly.

The listing agent was grateful (although I'm sure I interrupted his dinner), as I would have been, too. It's hard to sell a home that's been reduced to a smoldering crater surrounded by police tape.  Not impossible, mind you, but much harder.

If I hadn't been able to reach the agent, I would have contacted the local gas company's emergency hotline right away. This is the sort of thing that has caused houses to explode taking neighbouring homes with it.

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, 1710 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
847.425.3779      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS, Broker
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana of Real Estate!

Holy smokes - that is dangerous stuff.  Funny - you'd take gas over snakes and scorpions and  we deal with these critter issues all the time in the desert!

May 17, 2017 11:33 AM #4
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

That could have been a disaster Alan, I'm glad you and your clients were safe!

May 17, 2017 12:30 PM #5
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Alan, It seems like detecting gas leaks and busted water lines are just another service provided by buyer's agents across the country :)

May 17, 2017 01:29 PM #6
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Thank goodness you & your buyers were able to get out of there so fast Alan. I'm guessing your buyers aren't interested in the home any more. Would be tough to do a final walk-thru 

May 17, 2017 01:34 PM #7
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That actually happened near me.  The house was demolished, along with the family, and all the surrounding properties severely damaged.

May 17, 2017 01:42 PM #8
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Good thing you went to see it before it blew up! It's also a good thing you know what gas smells like.

May 18, 2017 03:20 AM #9
Bruce Minter
The Real Estate Group - Virginia Beach, VA

Back when I was in high school we had an upscale lake neighborhood nearby in my school district. One morning a person closed a door and the whole house blew up. The neighbor across the street rushed to her living room window and her house blew up sending her airborne well out into the front yard. Gas leaks following the pipes from the street to the house from hundred year old pipes were to blame. The slightest friction can set it off. Fortuneately nobody was seriously injured and gas lines throughout the community were replaced. 

May 18, 2017 05:09 AM #10
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

I have shown many vacant homes where it is obvious the listing agent had not visited in months.

A lot can happen in a vacant home and outside. The agent should keep on top of it. It is no wonder there are homes that have such high day on market numbers.

You did many people a great service.

Thanks for being a professional.

May 18, 2017 07:14 AM #11
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Wow that could have been a real disaster. Lucky for you the timing was right and you got out in time. Lucky for that agent and owner you notified them!

May 18, 2017 01:55 PM #12
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Alan- thank goodness you and your clients got out ok.  I just read something the other day about a man who used Siri to call for help when he went into his mother's vacant home to check on it. He switched on the light and the house exploded. 

Thieves removed the copper pipes but never shut off the gas. 

May 18, 2017 04:45 PM #13
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

                     Thank you Alan May 

May 20, 2017 09:05 PM #14
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Alan... I've done the same a couple of times... you just couldn't miss the smell of leaking gas when coming into the home. So dangerous and scary if you think you might set it off while in the house.

May 21, 2017 04:23 AM #15
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker

Alan, it would have had me interrupting his dinner with a friendly heads-up! Enjoy your day!

May 21, 2017 04:44 AM #16
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I can see why Kathy chose to high light your post this week...well done!

May 21, 2017 07:42 AM #17
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Hi Alan

That was certainly the right thing to do, and quickly. Who cares about interrupting dinner.


May 21, 2017 08:42 AM #18
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

You don't see that very often but I also would not stay long in that house.

May 21, 2017 11:13 AM #19
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Thank you very much for sharing this experience.

May 21, 2017 11:28 AM #20
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Yikes!  Good thing you were there to identify the smell and call the agent versus the alternative ending!  

May 21, 2017 04:40 PM #21
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Good that no one of the group were smokers. Some one owes you a lunch

May 26, 2017 07:09 PM #22
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty & Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

I have to admit I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a story about a home blowing up. But a good blog, all the same!

Jun 17, 2017 05:39 AM #23
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