Grow-op costs former owner dearly

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A Toronto writer who used his house as a small grow-op for personal use took a big hit when selling the home but that was just the tip of the iceberg. His story serves as a reminder to brokers about the potential pitfalls of purchasing these properties.

In his memoir, written for Toronto Life, Paul Illidge details the price he paid for growing eight marijuana plants in his Scarborough home.

“My wife, fearing the government was about to confiscate our house, insisted we put it up for sale. We received an offer for the full amount we were asking, but the buyers weren’t able to arrange a mortgage once their bank found out the property had been used as a grow op,” Illidge wrote. “Another couple put in a bid, then lowered it by $49,000 when they learned of the house’s past. In no position to bargain, we signed the offer.”

Former grow-ops have long been a bane to brokers, with many admitting they would endeavour to dissuade clients from purchasing such homes.

“Over the past few years, the majority of lenders in Canada no longer finance former grow-ops,” Scott Dawson, a BC-based broker wrote in an article for CMP in 2013. “There’s a good chance that if you walk into your local bank branch they’ll turn you away.”

Dawson also wrote that although buyers may get a deal in purchasing a former grow-op, the property is likely to cost in the long-run, as the client would likely be stuck with higher rates at origination and renewal.

It’s too late for the buyer of Illidge’s home, though. As for Illidge? He still has to live with the experience.

“It took a long time to get back to normal. Nicky had turned 18 a month before the bust, so he had a criminal record; his chances of getting a regular job were slim to none,” Illidge wrote. “Angry and ashamed that I’d messed up my son’s life so badly, I slipped into a depression, one that brought dark days and sleepless nights.”
  • Janice Ashworth on 2014-10-20 2:56:34 PM

    Once a home has been remediated I think the title should be cleared and no disclosure required by sellers. Or all remediated homes should have to be disclosed. A hoarder's home with mould, animal feces and worse - once remediated is not required to disclose. Same with flooded propertied (exceptions apply). There are many house that are bought and sold that have much worse EXISTING issues than the remediated grow ops. It seems the only reason for sticking this on the property for life is to make property owners do more due diligence to avoid it happening. Unequal punishment for same crime it would seem.

  • Nick Slezinski Calgary on 2014-10-20 7:09:39 PM

    In my rather lengthy personal experience and OPINION as a licensed agent(1975) I find there is much BALLYHOO and hand wringing involved in the remediation of a former grow-op ! By this I mean everyone from agents, banks, health agencies and buyers ! I have seen a home ripped apart to the original wall studs, this is to say, drywall, insulation, flooring down to floor joists . Even plumbing fixtures and kitchen counters removed and replaced ! Only a shell left to start over again ! I did NOT OBSERVE even a tiny speck of black mold or any other signs which may be a health issue ! The air quality inside the home was slightly BETTER than the exterior air due to vehicular traffic artery nearby ! After some $150,000 was spent on Retrofitting the complete home PLUS installation of a $1400 air scrubber unit onto the furnace, NOTHING was changed or improved in the air quality - readings were the same as before ! Aesthetics was the only obvious change . This home was used as a grow op of some 80 plants for less than one year ! I am NOT making or suggestion a generalization of all grow-ops , however do feel that some "agencies" were rather heavy-handed and "over the top" . Not much would have been changed or improved with a Lipstick and Rouge renovation of the home ! Paint, flooring, underlay and ceiling texturing for example after a "spot check" of drywall and such in several areas ! Actual BIGGEST and most IRRITATING issue was Trying to get the property Removed from the Drug Grow Op lists from Health Dept, and other sites once remediated ! ( 3 sites in all ) Took over a dozen calls over a 90 day period !) Purchaser of the home was made fully aware of all work with photos and is 100 % pleased to be living in the home ! Regards, Nick Slezinski ReMax First, Calgary

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