What Would You Pay For This Formerly Mold Infested Home?

What Would You Pay For This Formerly Mold Infested Home?

My wife and I have been curious about this 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath West Town home at 1844 W Huron ever since we walked by and noticed that it was vacant several months ago. It was a couple of doors down from another home we were seriously interested in for ourselves and we noticed that the gate was open so we walked in and looked in the basement windows. What a horror show! I've seen some pretty bad mold before but this was one of the worst (but not THE worst). Every square inch of that basement was covered with mold up to (if I recall correctly) a clear line that seemed to indicate that at one point the basement might have been completely filled with water.

I don't know all the history of this home other than the fact that back in December 2007 it went on the market for $1.6 MM with the following description:

FINALLY FINISHED...200K IN UPGRADES THRU-OUT IN FALL. STUNNING & ELEGANT SFH BRK+STONE, 3000SQFT OF LUXURY IN BUCKTOWN WITH 4BED/3.5BATH/2FPLS WIDE & OPEN FLOOR PLAN. GORMET KITCHEN WITH SS VIKING APPL/GRANIT COUNTERTOPS. NEW PATIO & FINISHED ROOF DECK. FULL FIN BSMNT, STEAMROOM/WETBAR. SMART HOME HAS 4 FLAT SCRN TV'S & BOSE SPKRS.

Now, the description says 3,000 square feet but usually homes with this kind of footprint have about 4,000 square feet.

Interestingly, the home went under contract in January 2008 and was immediately pending, which means it was ready to close quickly. But by May it still hadn't closed and the listing was cancelled. Then in August 2008 it came back on the market at $1.0 MM. There were several price drops over the course of the next few months until in May 2009 the listing was cancelled with a list price of $900K. During that time period (March 2009 to be exact) a Lis Pendens was filed, which means the developer was in trouble with his bank and they were starting the foreclosure process.

By December 2009 it was back on the market as a short sale for $550K with the following description:

Be the First Owner. Great for buyer's looking to fix to their specification. Needs improvements. Great Area at a Great Price.

Hmmm. So what happened between the original listing and the short sale? It actually went under contract immediately (fishy) and went pending in February but apparently never closed because the listing expired in December 2010.

So a couple of days ago it went back on the market, now listed at just under $800K with no description whatsoever but some curious showing instructions "Disclosure & Release form must be signed before allowing showings." Hmmm. What does this form say? Here are a few excerpts:

WHEREAS, Seller has been informed that as result of a water leak, mold and/or other microscopic organisms may exist at the Property and such microscopic organisms and/or mold may cause physical injuries, including but not limited to allergic and/or respiratory reactions or other problems, particularly in persons with immune system problems, young children and/or elderly persons ... Notwithstanding this disclosure, Releasor still desires to enter the Property ... Releasor hereby acknowledges and agrees that Seller, its officers, employees, agents, successors and assigns shall not bear any responsibility (financial or otherwise) for any loss or damages or injury or inconvenience sustained by Releasor caused by, related to or in conjunction with the inspection of the Property or arising out of the conditions of the  property.

Sure sounds scary doesn't it? Well, it's a standard release and I'm sure someone is just trying to cover their ass but we are not typically asked to sign something like this before seeing a property.

My wife and I went by on Saturday to check it out (look in the windows) and the basement is gutted and filled with the debris from the gut job. It looks like they are doing work on the main level - finishing it out. But it looks like the kitchen won't quite be up to the new construction standards of West Town - e.g. small range and small refrigerator.

But at the end of the day the big question is what is someone willing to pay for this place? I assume the bank is doing the mold remediation and finishing but who is doing the work for them, what procedures are they following, do they know what they are doing, and do they provide a guarantee? Mold remediation of this magnitude is tricky business. Presumably those mold spores have been scattered through the entire house and what are they doing to address that? Obviously, if someone was going to purchase this house they would have to not only get answers to a lot of questions but also conduct a full range of mold tests.

So, what would you pay for this place?

 

Comments

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  • Probably no one is going to pay anything for the place, except its value as a teardown.

    Besides what you mention (will the mold remediation pass inspection, and a buyer sure should have an independent inspection of the place), there is the state residential real property disclosure law. Also, unless the buyer is stupid enough to close without a lawyer, no reputable lawyer is going to recommend that a buyer (other than CPS buying from the Vrdolylaks) sign this kind of gobbledygook, but would probably draft his own counter agreement.

    Finally, unless the buyer is independently wealthy and stupid, one has to find a lender who will write a mortgage on this. 99 to 1 what happened to the first contract was that the mortgage contingency was not met, so the buyer was legally entitled to walk away.

    Sounds like the current mortgagee or a tax scavenger gets the place.

  • Don't give up on this one until you know certain facts! We at MoldPro.net suggest you get a detailed report on exactly what was done to kill, remove and prevent mold. Never presume that any previous owner has asked any previous contractor to do ALL the right things.
    Once you've received details on what work had been performed, present that to a mold professional company and ask that air samples be taken on each level of the home. A good visual inspection, reviewing what work had been previously performed, and receiving test results from a good laboratory will give a Mold Pro what he needs to help you to determine if the home is a lost cause.
    It is very valuable information to receive an assessment report from a Mold Pro telling you exactly where the problems lie (if any), what remedies are needed, and what the costs would be for remediation. This information helps you determine IF you want to purchase, and HOW MUCH you can bid given the fact that remediation costs would be incurred.
    This is NOT the time to look for the "free estimate". It would be way costlier to get this wrong than it would be to spend $199 on a good mold professional to give you all the details you need to make a good investment decision.

  • In reply to MoldPro:

    So, a couple of questions. Regardless of how bad the basement was there is a process that can be followed to make the home safe? And with the house closed up for so long is there any way the house can be remediated without ripping open the walls upstairs (they showed no signs of damage I don't think)?

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    There is a national protocol (the IICRC S520), that if followed properly, will bring any space to a level of what we call "Acceptable Fungal Ecology". The space would be safe! This protocol must include killing mold, removing it and preventing it from returning. So, depending on where the mold is, wall-removal may very well be necessary.
    Certainly, if you have visible mold on the front of drywall, the drywall ought to be removed a minimum of one foot in every direction from where mold is no longer visible. But is there mold within the wall cavity? This can be determined with wall cavity air samples.
    Ambient air samples will also help determine whether the mold in the basement has ridden the air currents to upper levels, or parhaps even been distributed throughout the home by the HVAC duct system. Mold spres move with the air, so testing is the most definitive way to assess the entire home.

  • In reply to MoldPro:

    Acceptable Fungal Ecology? Just what I was looking for in my new home. This place should be demolished and the debris sent to the bottom of the lake.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    I hear you. I think his point is that there is no such thing as a mold free home so the best you can do is find one with an acceptable level of mold.

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