How to prevent taking out a mortgage on a meth house

meth house

Meth labs can contaminate a house with toxins that can cost $50,000 or more to clean up. Image: CC trixieskip/Flickr

Before taking out a mortgage on that perfect fixer-upper you’ve been looking for, make sure it wasn’t a meth house. Meth houses can turn up anywhere these days, and it’s up to the potential buyers to make sure they don’t invest in a home contaminated by methamphetamine toxins. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to spot a house that has been used as a meth lab when you know what you’re looking for.

Don’t get stuck with a meth house

Meth labs are a growing problem in 46 out of 50 states according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The American Society of Home Inspectors told CNN that searching for signs that a house was used as a meth lab is beyond the scope of routine home inspections. In the case of meth labs, seller disclosure means little. A legal judgment means even less when the parties responsible for the meth lab are in jail. Horror stories abound about home buyers facing foreclosure because they can’t live in their house and can’t afford meth cleanup costs, which can run from $50,000 to $100,000.

Check the meth house registry

A typical checklist for first-time home-buyers includes such things as learning about the mortgage lending process and how to shop for homeowners insurance. But checking a house for methamphetamine isn’t usually on that checklist. If the meth cookers were busted the address, potential home buyers can find out at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Clandestine Laboratory Registry at justice.gov. The meth house registry is a list of addresses where local police have reported busting meth labs.

Meth house signs

There are obvious ways the average person can tell whether a fixer-upper is actually a meth house. A dead giveaway is a strong urine-like odor. Areas of dead vegetation in the yard is another. Look for chemical spills on driveways, sinks, bathtubs and toilets. Dark red stains on walls or ceilings is a tell-tale sign. Evidence that windows were blacked out or covered is another. No matter how great the deal is on a house that shows any of these signs, it’s too good to be true.

Sources

CNN

Bankrate.com

WalletPop

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