Clearly, I have been preaching to the choir. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: People use meth (methamphetamine) ... even in Utah.

It is a sad reality, especially given the damage that this drug can do. I have preached about it regularly. As a quick review, straight from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Also known as meth, blue, ice, and crystal, among other terms, it takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.” This drug takes a disastrous physical and psychological toll on the body because it works fast, is inexpensive to make with easily accessible products, and affects both the brain and the body ... permanently. When meth is smoked, injected, snorted and/or cooked in a home, the home also becomes infected with the toxins and also needs to go through a pretty extensive and expensive “detox.”

Just a few days ago, my young first-time homebuyers, after months of looking, were finally able to win a bid and get a home under contract. This home was an obvious “flip,” meaning it had been purchased as a fixer-upper and then rehabbed (read: “Lipstick on a Pig”) and resold. These homes in particular should be subject to meticulous and exhaustive inspections. New paint and carpet are fun, but having to replace a roof, windows, a furnace and a water heater within the first couple of years of ownership is not. Nor is having sudden symptoms of compromised physical and psychological health. That is why a meth test is imperative in this type of home. (Frankly, it is a good idea in any home; meth use is not discriminatory.)

My clients determined that they should spend the few extra bucks to ensure their safety and they had the home inspector run a meth test during inspections. Unfortunately, it came back positive. Under Utah Rule 392-600, the current standard for required remediation is 1.0 microgram of meth per 100 square centimeters of surface area. Several areas were tested and it came back higher than 1.0. As a result, my clients decided that they no longer wanted to move forward with the purchase (for obvious reasons) and we sent over their notice of cancellation. The list agent was, incidentally, also the owner. She had purchased the home to rehab just a few weeks prior. When I pulled the old listing from the purchase prior to hers, the home looked the same as it did when my clients walked through, but it had been recently repainted. Thus, the “flip” was minimal at best. However, my clients still loved the layout and saw some great potential.

When I sent the cancellation over, I also included the meth test results. I told her that this was the reason my clients were cancelling. As a simple courtesy, I reminded her that she now has knowledge that the home has tested positive for meth and I would leave the ball in her court to do what needed to be done about that for the next buyers. Of course, she is obligated to either have it mitigated or disclose it. Unless it is mitigated, a lender will not lend on a property that has tested positive.

Less than 15 minutes later, the listing was up and active again. For the record, meth clean up takes one heck of a lot longer than 15 minutes. Nothing was disclosed in comments. I guess the ball is back in my court. I have to be able to sleep at night, and knowing a home that is contaminated with meth is being sold as if it is not is not conducive to sleeping at night. Meantime, as part of the choir, feel free to sing it out.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com

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