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Deep Cove and the dreaded Grow-Op

Blog by Patricia Houlihan - Personal Real Estate Corporation | May 4th, 2007


This weekend, the Globe and Mail contained an article about homes which had been marijuana grow ops potentially being great deals for home buyers.  It recounted the experience of a couple who had been able to buy a grow op at a reduced price.  As we know, BC is likely the grow op capital of Canada . Fortunately, perhaps because there are not as many rental homes as in other areas, it seems that the Cove has not been too plagued by this issue.  However, in other parts of North Van we see listings where the owner has disclosed that the home was formerly a grow-op and sometimes houses are sold for land value because there is no occupancy permit (in other words the house cannot be used for people to live in until work is done on it).  There are bargains to be had in this type of real estate-or so it appears.  However,  I would be very cautious in deciding whether to buy a grow-op.  While the couple in the article had had an inspection and apparently everything went fine, I would still be very hesitant to recommend a buyer buy this type of property unless they could do a lot of the work themselves, they could absorb additional unexpected costs and they had also had a good inspection and had secure financing.  It is important to realize that even the best inspectors cannot find everything in a 2-4 hour inspection.  There can be a number of problems in a home used as a grow-op; some of which can be potential health hazards (ie. mold in the home as a result of heat/moisture).  In addition, where there is no occupancy permit, work will need to be done to get the house up to the standards expected by the City and to pass all City inspections.  The buyers will need to have alternative accommodation until this work is done.  And of course before they get to this stage the buyers must convince the bank to finance the project…..So while it may seem like an attractive option in this high priced market, buying a grow-op in order to get a good deal, while it may seem attractive in this market, can be risky business!