The garden of pot pulled out of homes in Aurora made for some wild photos Wednesday. The damage these illegal grows eventually leave behind can be a big problem for the next owners. Sometimes the buyer doesn't find out until it's theirs.
The DEA says it's finding more illegal grow homes in the Denver Metro area since they started tracking the issue more closely in 2014. To make way for pot, the DEA said growers can change things like electrical wiring, plumbing and the HVAC system.
So we asked Matt Leprino with the Colorado Realtors Association and Bryan Rose, a home inspector with Rose Inspections for some perspective.
1.) Can you tell before buying if there was an illegal pot grow that damaged homes?
Leprino said in some cases yes you can in others it's hard to tell.
It can depend on the size of the grow.
Leprino, Rose and the DEA said sometimes people like to cover the tracks.
Rose gave the example of mold, which he said can get behind walls and is hard to detect, especially if someone painted the walls before selling the home.
2.) How often are damaged homes detected?
The DEA says illegal home grows are a growing problem in Colorado.
But Leprino said he hasn't noticed an uptick.
In fact, both he and Rose said while they've both dealt with homes that used to be grow houses, it's not very often.
Both men also said they may not always know that a home was a previous grow house.
3.) Why isn't it obvious or made public that a home was once a grow house?
Leprino said a seller doesn't have to disclose that information because home grows are legal for up to 12 plants for recreational use. Leprino said it’s also not disclosed even if the owner or tenant went beyond the legal limit.
He did mention sometimes the home owner may not know what was going on if their tenants were illegally growing marijuana and they never got caught.
4.) Are there are any signs potential buyers can look out for to indicate there was a grow that could have caused damage?
Yes, Rose said many times a wall may be removed to make a larger grow area.
He also said electrical wiring and HVAC systems might be altered to better suit growing marijuana inside the home.
Leprino also said if there are sinks in unusual places, like in the basement without a wet bar, that could be a sign too as well as mold.
In addition to real estate agents and home inspectors keeping an eye out during home walkthroughs, if there seems to be an issue potential buyers can also bring in specialists to inspect the home for damage.
5.) If sellers aren't obligated to report home grows, how do potential buyers know to even ask questions?
Rose said he had a client who talked to other neighbors.
If there was something fishy going on or a raid, neighbors may have seen it and then a potential buyer knows to ask more questions.
6.) Does this impact house prices?
Leprino said he personally hasn't seen that.
He also said some people don't mind if the house they are looking at was previously a home grow and might be looking for a deal.
Also, because sellers don’t have to disclose if marijuana was grown there, it may never come up and therefore impact prices.
Rose said he had a client that opted out.