REXBURG - Located at 675 W. 5000 North, a house is listed to sell, but there is more to this abode than meets the eye: It is infested with garter snakes.
The last owners of the home were Ben and Amber Sessions. They bought the house at what they thought was a great price.
"We were told that the previous owners in there didn't want to make their payment because they made up a story that there were snakes there, that they didn't want to pay their mortgage so they made up a snake story," Ben Sessions said.
The couple was also informed that every precaution was taken to ensure there wasn't a snake problem. They trusted the real estate agent that the information they had been told was true.
Later, the Sessions learned that the story of the snakes was not made up, and there was a problem.
The Sessions were forced to file for bankruptcy and the house was foreclosed.
The house is currently owned by Chase Bank, which contacted Todd Davis, listing specialist and associate broker from Realty Quest, to handle the selling of the foreclosed home. Realty Quest did not handle the sale to the Sessions.
This is the first experience Davis has had with the house and has not seen any snakes, as it is the hibernating season. He has heard about the home from others and is going to try to sell the home while making sure those inquiring are aware of the situation.
Davis had requested the bank to get the house inspected and find out what it would take to rid of the problem. The bank sent an inspector, who estimated in December there were about 400 to 500 snakes at the house. The latest assessment from the inspector is that there are multiple thousands of snakes.
The Sessions moved into the home in September 2009 and began to see snakes two weeks after they had moved in. At first, they thought maybe they were just stirring some snakes up because the house had been vacant for a year. They lived out in the country and expected to see some snakes.
After some time, the Sessions began to see more snakes. Amber Sessions saw eight snakes within a couple of days and decided to research the house a little more.
"I went online to find out what was going on. I typed in ‘Idaho snake house,' and there was a Channel 6 news report of the previous people that lived there, the Ards, and it was our house," said Amber Sessions.
Davis understands the snakes to be under the foundation of the house and Ben Sessions says he believes the snakes to be by the well because the water at the house tasted the same as the snakes smelled.
Garter snakes "secrete a foul-smelling fluid from anal glands when alarmed." (Click here for more.)
"From what we're told, the snakes actually leave a scent that attracts other snakes to the den for up to 2 miles away," Davis said.
The "snake house" has been listed for sale for 46 days, as of today, and Davis said that with each person inquiring, Realty Quest is making sure those interested are aware of the problem to their knowledge.
A YouTube video was posted by the owners before the Sessions (the Ards) of the snakes, and Davis is also e-mailing the link to inquirers. Davis said the YouTube video is the only true evidence of the snakes that he has seen.
The Sessions were on the Animal Planet television show, "Infested: snakes, spiders, and ants," but the video footage of the snakes is a reenactment of the situation.
"Everyone that we've been talking to, we've offered - the Sessions have said that they're willing to let people contact them - we're offering their phone number to them, as well as the pest inspector's phone number to them to try to make them as aware as possible," Davis said.
Davis estimated the house to be worth about $175,000 if it were not infested and it is currently listed at $109,200 because of the situation.
The house was remodeled about five years ago, and it is believed that is when the snakes got access to the home because it was exposed.
"We're not trying to minimize (the problem), we're not trying to sweep it under the rug," Davis said. "The minimal amount we would make in a commission is not worth destroying someone's life and what's happened to the Sessions. We feel terrible for them, it's simply, it sounds like they were the victims of misinformation, and we're trying to go 180 degrees the opposite direction with that."