Always get a home inspection, realtor says

Sunday, February 22nd, 2004

Susan Lazaruk

When a Port Coquitlam couple bought their home two years ago, they didn’t find out until after they signed the deal that the house had been used as a marijuana grow-op.

“Everything looked nice, painted, the basement was painted,” said Maria, who didn’t want her last name or neighbourhood published for security reasons. “It looks OK until you took down the walls.”

She and her boyfriend discovered all the vents had been sealed off in the basement where they suspect the plants were grown. They have spent $25,000 on renovations, including rewiring the house.

“And you can smell mould in the house even now,” she said.

The couple didn’t insist upon a subject-to-inspection clause because there were seven or eight other people interested in the house, she said.

“The real-estate agent said if you want it, you have to put an offer in right away and you can’t do an inspection,” she said. “We felt pressured.”

Maria suspects the owner, whom the couple never met, and his real-estate agent knew about the basement pot factory. If the couple were informed, they could have bailed or negotiated a better price on the $232,000 asking price, which they paid, she said.

“I feel I was cheated here somehow,” she said.

Under new rules by the B.C. Real Estate Association announced last week, sellers are required to declare on the standard disclosure statement if the house had been used to grow pot or make crystal meth.

But those in the industry say that won’t necessarily protect consumers and homebuyers who they say should always have an independent inspection done.

“We’re asking the seller to disclose that [grow-op] information,” said association president David Herman. “If they do tick it off, that should tell the buyer they should have an inspection done.”

Realtor Carmen Maretic, a leaky condo advocate, said the unwitting buyer of a grow-op faces the same risks as when buying a condo that may have had water damage.

“Buyers should not rely on this [disclosure statement],” she said, especially in a competitive market. “I’m alarmed at the number of people who are still buying without a proper inspection.”

© The Vancouver Province 2004


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