FOMO; noun: Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may be happening elsewhere, i.e., Fear Of Missing Out. I must have this FOMO. For as long as I can remember, and even before that (according to my mother), I have greeted each day early and eagerly, lest I miss out on some event or occurrence that said day may have to offer. I only have morning FOMO, however. Once the clock hits half-past nine in the evening, I’m out. Whatever happens after that can happen without me — no guilt, no FOMO.

Fortunately, my chosen profession, real estate, feeds my morning FOMO. Every day is different, and most days I have little to no idea what the day may bring. This energy is like a heartbeat to my soul. I need this sort of daily disquieting. Most days I embrace it. Not today.

Today, I am meeting a client in a long-term care facility where he now resides. I have to inform him that his home — the place where he has resided the last several years, the place where he keeps all his earthly possessions — is not vacant, like he thought. I have to inform him that there are not one but five dilapidated and junk-filled cars parked in the yard and the driveway. I have to inform him that his home, the home he and he alone holds sole title to, is now housing “squatters,” who have not only moved completely in but have been living there long enough to have the power bill in their name, and long enough to have adequately trashed the place.

Squatting constitutes not only an activity that can occur in the woods in the absence of outhouses, nor is it only an endeavor done with a barbell at the gym. Squatting also describes the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use. Sadly, it is the latter type of squatting in reference here. I am not looking forward to this.

As it turns out, my client, a United States veteran, had some health issues several months ago that initiated a hospital stay. This turned into a long-term stay in a care center, which has, incidentally, turned into a permanent residence for him. Meantime, his ex-wife’s son decided that he and his friends and family could party at his house in his absence ... indefinitely.

Now, having recently returned from my visit, I informed him of this series of incredibly unfortunate events. He cried. Strangely, I had something in my eye as well that caused my own eye to water a bit. However, this response lit a proverbial conflagration under my feet. There is new hope. We set a game plan in place. We are going to fix this injustice the best way we can. The first thing we did while I was there was call the utility companies and have both the gas and the water turned off. The power company refused to turn the power off since it was being paid by the squatters. No problem. We will see how long they can live without water and gas. Then I called the city police department.

As unlikely as this sounds, there have been two other occasions when I have had to deal with squatters in a home I was selling. Both times, however, the squatters were caught the very day after “moving in” to their newfound residence and were quickly removed by the city police. This was different.

The officer informed me that we would need to retain an eviction attorney at this point since these people have completely taken over the house and have clearly been in there for some time. We did so immediately. The attorney will file an eviction lawsuit with Utah’s district courts for the purpose of regaining physical possession of the property. Once the judge signs the order, I will obtain a Letter of Agency, the locks will be changed and the “No Trespassing” signs will be posted. At that point, if there are “trespassers,” they will be arrested. There will be no passing GO and no collecting of $200. We will go assess the damage, save what can be saved and get rid of what cannot, and then we will sell the home.

Tomorrow, I will wake up and embrace the new day with both angst and excitement. I don’t want to miss out.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.

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