Professional Real Estate Services

Roof Rats

Roof Rats

I recently showed a home that was a little underpriced. I thought, due to its location and age, there could have been a number of reasons for this. As we were checking out the home’s systems, we went outside to see the AC unit, which was on the roof. We soon found the reason for the low list price. There was a very large rat under the AC unit that quickly dove down a vent pipe into the attic space. I was completely alarmed and rushed to get the buyer out. This was an absolute NO for them. One of the buyers was not immediately dissuaded by the rat presence. They thought they could possibly eradicate the rodent population. We talked about it for a bit. They had anticipated their closing costs and possibly some rehab expense but they never thought about something like this. How costly would it be and how difficult to rid the property of roof rats?

It got me thinking, what kind of buyer would buy this home? A skilled flipper could take it on, but would it make sense for the seller? A seasoned flipper would low ball the seller. Could my buyer get the property at a fair price and make it a win/win transaction? My first instinct was no. I looked into the current owner. They had purchased the home a handful of years ago and had a sizable mortgage on it. Albeit, their asking price was over the current mortgage amount, the seller wasn’t going to be walking away with a huge profit after realtor fees. I started looking into my original question, how hard and expensive would it be to get rid of a roof rat problem?

This is what I found. Roof rats are not native to Arizona. The problem was first discovered in the Arcadia area in 2002, not very far from where this home is located. Most pest control companies these days subscribe to the common-sense approach, get rid of the food source and the pests will just leave. What do roof rats eat? Rats will eat just about anything but it’s reported that they love fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. And of course, they need water. The two things this property and all the others around it have in abundance are fruit and water. This home is situated on a ½ acre irrigated lot surrounded by mature, even over grown orange, lemon, grapefruit, mulberry and fig trees. It’s in the center of a neighborhood containing other ½ - ¾ acre lots with an abundance of fruit trees, all supported by irrigation. How can you cut off the food supply and still preserve the very thing that is a major selling point of the home?

Pest control companies recommend cleaning up the lot. Trim all the trees and shrubs so no debris is lying on the ground. Be sure no low hanging fruit or branches are overhanging the roof of the home. That won’t keep a rat from getting to the roof but it may make it more difficult to get a large quantity of food into their den. They also recommend eliminating any wood piles or piles of anything for that matter, up against the outside walls of the home or the surrounding fence. Don’t leave food out for other pets, especially bird food. Keep any bulk food storage in rodent proof containers and keep trash container sealed up tight. They also recommend strategically placed traps and bait stations. The last two options should be done with care so not to unintentionally harm other species. Sealing up access to the attic and roof area is going to be key so that a poisoned rat doesn’t go into the nest space and die. This will create an awful stench and make it very difficult to find and remove them. So, is it that simple? The more well-kept the yard is, eliminating their food sources, the less likely they are to hang around? For this particular property, that seems like a tall order!