The pot growing behind the tenant’s closed door

Since I talked about meth houses last week, I figured it would be fitting to follow up with some thoughts about a much more common scenario. Pot. Don’t worry, this won’t become the Sacramento Appraisal & Drugs Blog. Here is a conversation I had a while back that made me chuckle:

Me: May I see the last room now?
Tenant: Sorry, I don’t have a key to that room.
Me: Oh, too bad. So there is no way to get in?
Tenant: My roommate is traveling and won’t be back for a very long time. He has the key, and he doesn’t want me going in there (keep in mind this is a duplex in a sketchy area).
Me: What a bummer. My client will probably want me to come back when the harvest is ready your roommate gets back into town.
Tenant: That could be a while, but okay.
Me: No problem. I’ll let my client know.

It’s not surprising in situations like this to re-inspect the property a weeks or months later only to find that the “roommate” didn’t have a bed, but only paraphernalia for growing plants indoors.

pot growing in house - by sacramento appraisal blog

Does the appraiser have to inspect each room? Ultimately an appraiser is going to need to inspect all rooms in a house if the appraisal is for a loan. In fact, lenders these days want to have a photo of every single room in the appraisal report. This means if you’re growing pot, the appraiser is going to have to take a photo of the room at some point. If the appraisal is for a private reason, the client may give the appraiser permission to not inspect the room and make what is called an extraordinary assumption. This basically gives the appraiser leeway to assume the room is in similar condition with the rest of the house even though the appraiser did not actually see the room.

Here’s my take. As an appraiser I am concerned with the condition of the house. There is obviously a huge difference between a massive grow operation with hundreds or thousands of plants and a home owner with a couple plants (allowable by law). What I’m going to be looking for is anything that might make an impact on value or a health and safety issue – exposed wiring, over loaded plug-ins, poor ventilation, mold, etc…

Question: Would you have a problem buying a house where marijuana was grown? Would the amount grown be a factor for you?

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  1. Cecilia Karr says

    Love the locked rooms! Setting the appointment I always re-iterated several times that I HAVE to see every single room. Yet – “forgot”, “son/father/cousin/roommate is not here & wants to be present”, and – as with yours – “traveling”. Oh, “can’t find the key” – I almost forgot, LOL! Never ran into any grow operations, though, strangely enough.

    Yes, I’d buy a maryjane house – so long as the authorities were truly finished with it. Don’t want them coming back later & accusing ME of complicity, etc.

    33 years ago we bought our home without actually having seen the third bedroom! I imagine the appraiser gained access at some point, but we didn’t see it until all was said and done. Supposedly due to a day sleeper. Whatever… Room was as average as the rest of them, so lucked out, I guess!

    Great work, as always, Ryan – I salute you!

    • says

      There are so many reasons why a door can be locked (and some really legitimate ones as you mentioned). In this case my intuition and a few clues led me to believe it was pot behind the door. I was right in this case. I am always careful to not push the issue because who knows what is behind the door. I don’t want to upset anyone. If my client wants me to go back out there, I’ll do so. If not, then that’s fine too.

      Thanks for your perspective. It’s good to hear. I appreciate your kind words as always.

  2. says

    I would not have a problem buying a home that had been growing marijuana plants. That would probably add value to the neighborhood. I would hate to move into the house next door, though. Marijuana is so pungent that the smoke or smell can easily be detected in a neighbor’s yard or through their open window. I have heard of a couple families trying to deal with this problem and they are not having much success. Anyone have any ideas?

    • says

      Good point, Ray. That stuff is potent. Ironically, I smelled a little something this evening from a house on my street. I would have a problem if the smell was 24/7. I might suggest having your friend talk with the neighbor as a first measure just so communication is open (if of course that type of communication is possible). There are other things that can be done, but it seems like open conversation might be a relevant first measure. Or if it is only once in a while, the friend might need to chalk it up to one of the annoyances of living in close proximity with others.

      I wouldn’t have a problem living in a former grow house so long as everything was 100% resolved. However, one of the downfalls for me would be the unwanted traffic from people who might come by expecting to buy drugs or hang out at the house. I definitely wouldn’t want my kids around that. I’ve heard of such situations from real estate friends who have sold former drug houses, and that’s definitely a turn-off in my book. But I imagine that would fade with time though too.

  3. says

    Marijuana is illegal in Alabama so even if it was just a couple of plants there would still be a problem with that. Personally I would not want to buy a home where pot was grown due to possible smells. In addition, if they grew pot they may have also been cooking meth.

  4. says

    Marijuana in houses is actually very bad. Consider this. To grow pot you need water, specialized lighting and a contained space. The lighting gives off a tremendous amount of heat as a by-product. Sound familiar? How about to mold? Mold requires heat, water and no airflow. Pot grows in residential housing are a recipe for mold.


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