Bank foreclosures and cheap homes have led to a surprising situation, marijuana growers moving into upscale homes in the suburbs.
When the housing bubble burst resulting in an economic calamity in this country foreclosures soared to an all-time high, leaving homeowners in a desperate situation. Homes have been abandoned all over the country and those who rent out their properties have become much more lax in doing reference or background checks!
Middle class and even more upscale communities are seeing a rise in homes used as grow houses. Marijuana growers will set up large-scale hydroponic marijuana systems in these homes, sometimes banking a million dollars or more annually from the plants.
One reason suburban homes are becoming a more likely target is their size and relative safety. Nicer neighborhoods are less likely to be hit with random raids and the neighbors tend to stay to themselves. Homes in these areas also tend to be larger, allowing growers to set up a bigger operation and thus better profits. Really smart growers will also live in the home and conduct their lives as “normally” as possible to avert suspicion, though most of the times the grow houses are visited infrequently.
In 2010, metro Las Vegas police reported confiscating plants, cash and guns from over 112 homes, which is twice as many as the year before. Bank foreclosures and cheap homes are not the only contributors to the rise in numbers you can also thank tougher border crossings, (harder to get marijuana across) and the financial benefit versus the cost. Currently it costs around $3,000 for bail when you are arrested for operating a grow house, compared to $300,000- $1 million in potential revenues! Officials are asking for tougher penalties in an attempt to stem the tide.
Is there an upside to all of this? Most homeowners would agree that they would rather not sell to individuals intent on creating a grow house for marijuana. However, this type of interest could spark a bit of an upswing in home sales, while buyers are still able to get a great house for about 60% of the value in wonderful locations!
Possible Grow-House Signs
Of course, if you are in the market for a home you will want to carefully consider your options. Inside marijuana, growth tends to leave behind some potentially dangerous side effects. Indoor watering systems leave a home vulnerable to mold growth, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to remove! Here are a few things to watch for when buying or even in your neighborhood:
- Darkened windows
- Neglected yard
- Odors- particularly skunk
- Abandoned appearance
- Condensation on windows (from indoor watering)
- Property that appears abandoned most of the time
When you consider the risk-to-profit margins of such clandestine operations, it is not very surprising to find marijuana grow houses in foreclosures and other such cheap homes . However, that does not mean buyers should fear purchasing foreclosed homes in nice neighborhoods.
Just ask the buyer who lived in a California neighborhood where a recent grow house was destroyed by fire, a 40% savings on the purchase of a home in an upscale suburban neighborhood was well worth it.