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Tips for Spotting a Meth Lab

Every year, thousands of homebuyers buy former meth labs, unaware that the homes they purchased are contaminated with poisonous substances that permeate the insulation, flooring and surfaces. With many buyers in today’s market looking at foreclosures and short sales, it is not uncommon for banks to be unaware of properties’ conditions. In fact, some states do not require meth labs to be disclosed to potential buyers, but yet the long-term effects of being exposed to these harmful toxins can be devastating.

Annually, police uncover thousands of meth labs, yet even more go unreported and undetected. The federal government has strict regulations about lead-based paint disclosures, yet there are no federal disclosure regulations dictating that meth labs must be disclosed.

In fact, some states do not even require sellers to determine if a home has been contaminated with meth, which makes it even more common for homebuyers to unknowingly purchase this type of environmental and health hazard. Some states also recognize a decontaminated meth lab as having a clean bill of health, one that does not need to be disclosed to potential buyers. But for many unsuspecting homebuyers, this simply isn’t acceptable.

The National Association of Realtors® has their members pledge to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. This is the main difference between a Realtor® and a standard real estate agent, the latter of which do not have a mandatory Code of Ethics to adhere to. While a Realtor® must disclose all known property defects to a buyer, if something is unknown to an agent, he/she is not responsible.

Therefore, buyers should conduct their own due diligence and feasibility tests on properties. Buyers can check with the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) National Clandestine Laboratory Register, state and local officials, police departments, sheriffs’ offices and local health departments. Many of these government agencies have a list of properties that have known or suspected meth contamination. Local police departments also offer insight into crime-ridden areas, including those suspected as current or former drug sites.

When looking at purchasing a home, buyers can minimize their risks by looking for signs of former meth lab use, including packages or bottles of acetone, brake cleaner, old cans, iodine, muriatic acid, phosphorus, drain cleaner, rubber gloves, paint thinner, rubber tubing, dust masks, propane tanks, coolers and camp stoves. If no visible signs are present, potential buyers may want to consider purchasing an inexpensive meth lab cleanup test kit. If the kit tests positive, buyers should then decide if they would like to pursue professional meth testing, which can cost $500 to $700.

The dangers of buying a potential or former meth lab aren’t simply health and environmental hazards, but also how expensive the cleanup costs are, in most cases far exceeding $10,000.

My Hard Money Lenders specializes in offering fast loan funding for investors and homebuyers. They offer an array of financing options, ideal for foreclosures, including apartment building loans and commercial building loans.



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