Grow Houses in Canada
A local Mortgage Broker told me No Canadian Bank will give a mortgage to a previous grow house

Grow ops make houses virtually impossible to sell

By DeLynda Pilon - Prince George Free Press
Published: September 08, 2011 11:00 AM
Updated: September 08, 2011 11:58 AM

Although it’s not impossible to sell a home formerly used as a grow-op, it is extremely difficult.

Banks are reluctant to lend money for mortgages on former grow-op homes and getting insurance is a real task, often leaving home-owners with an asset they just can’t move.

“Even if the seller has got an environmental engineer, banks don’t want to lend and insurance companies still don’t want to insure, though it’s not across the board,” said Joni Brown with Remax Realty.

She said both the real estate company and the seller has to disclose the property was used as a grow-op for years after the fact even if the owner has done extensive work on the property.

“We had a committee setting up forums in different communities to discuss this,” Brown said. “It’s not just a northern problem. Other real estate boards are involved, and the B.C. Real Estate Agency is getting involved to create a provincial standard.”

Brown firmly supports the first recommendation put forward by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB), supported by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) and decided in conjunction with seven municipalities after five years of inquiry.

Developing a centralized and consistent process for disclosure of property history information will ensure potential sellers, buyers and renters know whether the property they are interested in has a clear history or requires further investigation.

Brown would like to see everyone’s interests looked after, from the seller and real estate company to the buyer and bank.

The second recommendation deals with the problem of remediation and asks that a centralized consistent process for remediation of buildings used in drug operations be put in place.

Brown said problems can include electrical issues, since the people running the grow-op often jack the electricity, as well as moisture problems, something that can easily be hidden from an unsuspecting buyer simply by throwing up some new gyp-roc.

She suspects the issue is there is no provincial standard for what constitutes a remediated home when it comes to a grow-op, something the second recommendation, if put in place, will address.

When homes are damaged by fire or flood, there are set standards banks and insurance companies can refer to in order to determine the home is, once again, properly repaired. The second recommendation would mean former farmer grow-op homes have set remediation standards as well.

The final recommendation asked the the disclosures and the remediation process be implemented through existing B.C. legislation.

Until these recommendations are put in place, a home-owner, who in good faith rented a property to a tenant who abused it, is in a bad spot when he tries to sell. If a potential buyer can’t get insurance or a mortgage, the seller then has to rely on finding someone with enough cash to buy the property outright or try some alternative selling form like rent-to-own.

Sometimes the owner, put in this untenable situation, winds up having to let the home go back to the bank.

In this case, if the bank sells the home, it may not have to disclose its history as a grow-op.

“That is a grey area,” said Brown.

Generally it is left up to the buyer, in that case, to use due diligence when making the purchase.

If the home remains unsold, it can easily turn into a derelict property which will, in turn, bring property values on the entire block down.

“We all know there is a problem, but it’s going to take funds to fix it,” Brown added.

“People are working on trying to remedy the situation but there will be no quick fixes. It’s a multi-facetted issue with a lot of parties involved, but the wheels have been set in motion.

“The more pressure the government gets, the more likely it is that a solution will be found.”