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?