ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a problem driving down home prices across the metro, and local realtors and director of SW Concierge Property Services say it’s affecting more than just homeowners.

“Well, it used to be you ran into a squatter every once in a while in really bad neighborhoods, Nowadays we are seeing a spike in running into occupants and squatters just about everywhere in the city,” director of SW Concierge Property Services Robbie Sanchez said.

Robbie Sanchez says they don’t leave after one or two visits, police have to come and ask them to leave.

“You go through the traditional 911 and they deescalate it to a 242-COPS call and appreciate them when they do respond, but some of your hot neighborhoods it takes a little while,” Sanchez said.

By that time the squatters have left behind a mess, often times vandalizing the home. That means the realtors and contractors have to start over.

“We got to stop our process, completely board it shut, submit bids to fix what was just broken, then wait for approval,” Sanchez explained.

Local realtors and the director of SW Concierge Property Services say it’s a lengthy process that can take months.

“We are incentivized by the banks to get them done in a certain time frame and we are penalized if we don’t,” he said.

Sanchez says buyers, especially those flipping houses, lose money, and neighbors worry about their homes and their safety.

“I think it does bring down the property value having houses like that in the neighborhood,” neighbor Shawn Redman said. “We actually had somebody in our shed three weeks ago. When I went out back a woman was in our shed and we called the police.”

Sanchez says he’s seen squatters get tickets for trespassing. If police find damage to the home, squatters can also face burglary or property crime charges.