The series Breaking Bad just finished up yesterday. Everyone is talking about it, so I wanted to pitch in a few thoughts from a real estate angle.
Buying a Meth House: Would you buy a house that was previously used as a meth lab? Most people probably wouldn’t because of the fear of chemicals and their impact. It is possible to clean up a former lab of course, and you can read a 122-page report from the DEA on how to do that, but still many former labs simply end of being bulldozed so a new home can be built.
Meth labs do sell on MLS, but it’s not always easy to spot the sales. This is thankfully in part to there being few drug labs in Sacramento County, but otherwise since the lab details are often summed up in a matter of words or one sentence, it’s easy to gloss over at first glance. These homes can usually be found though by searching MLS under property description or client confidential remarks for “meth lab”, “drug lab” or something to that effect. Here is a sampling of comments from agents who sold meth labs over the past decade or so in the Sacramento region.
Meth House Comments on MLS:
“Clean report from Dept of Health on file”
“Past use as a meth lab. Has been cleared per sellers”
“Property had a meth lab”
“Per County there was a drug lab”
“Home was used for meth lab. Needing to bulldoze & maybe rebuild”
“Property was an illicit drug lab. It has been decontaminated”
DEA National Lab List: If you didn’t know, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a database called the National Clandestine Laboratory Register. In the DEA’s own words, “It contains addresses of some locations where law enforcement agencies reported they found chemicals or other items that indicated the presence of either clandestine drug laboratories or dumpsites”. Here are the addresses that came up for Sacramento County (you can search your area here):
Meth and Neighbors’ Property Value: We all know meth houses sell at a severe discount because of the clean-up and stigma involved. It’s interesting to consider though that meth labs can actually significantly impact value for surrounding homes too. In an extensive study of meth labs, economics professor Joshua Congdon-Hohman found that surrounding properties to meth houses sold anywhere from 4.5%-19% less over a two-year period after the discovery of the lab. Read The Lasting Effects of Crime: The Relationship of Discovered Methamphetamine Laboratories and Home Values (PDF). By the way, I found the link to the study through this blog post last week.
I hope this was interesting. I’d love to hear any comments or further insight below.
Question: Would you buy a meth lab? Is meth a problem in your area?