Greetings and welcome back. We’re glad you’ve joined us as we continue our discussion on meth and stigma. For those who read last week’s blog, you know we discussed the role of visibility in stigmatizing meth houses. And, as we saw, there are specific ways the public can access information on your property. Of course, much of this access results from safety measures. And, while safety is important, you may find that visibility allows some people to form negative attitudes about your home.
However, there’s more to this story, and meth houses aren’t as obvious as you may think. To demonstrate what we mean, we’d like to tell you about a certain family. Naturally, we want to respect their privacy, so we’ll call them the Smiths.
Meth Houses and Stigma: Not as Obvious as You Think
The Smiths were a young couple moving to Utah from out of state. They had two children (three and five years old) with a baby on the way. Since they moved just before Christmas, you can imagine how eager they were to settle in and start making memories.
Now, before they’d purchased their home, the presale inspector recommended testing for meth. (He suggested this as a standard precaution.) But, based on the condition of the property, the Smiths decided to skip that step and move forward with the sale. Their realtor saw no reason to disagree based on her records, and so the family moved in without another thought of contamination.
Well, that is, until they found the pipe.
Neither of them had ever used drugs, so they didn’t know exactly what they were looking at. Unsure of what to do, they called the police. It turns out the pipe was probably used for marijuana, and the officer said not to worry about it. However, he also added: ‘Man, this was such a bad meth house. You know, we busted it over and over.’
That was it. Have a nice Christmas, you’re living in a former hotspot for meth, and all that implies. (And yes, when they tested, there were high levels of contamination). That’s particularly concerning with a pregnancy and young children in the equation.
Where Was the Stigma?
Let’s review what we know so far. This house didn’t appear on any databases related to meth. The realtor, title company, and inspector had no knowledge of any problems. Furthermore, when the Smiths told their story, the neighbors were floored. Even though the police came to the house many times, nobody knew why.
This, you might expect, is not a unique situation. In fact, we frequently hear from owners wondering how meth could possibly have entered their home. Unfortunately, this drug is extremely prevalent, and you can’t judge anything (or anyone) by appearances.
So, while it’s true that some people might notice the sign on your door, we’d say stigma doesn’t usually stick. For good or ill, most people won’t remember or insert themselves into this type of situation. The ones that would, well, they can’t really do much harm. All they can do is report their suspicions to potential buyers. And, if your honest and following disclosure laws, that’s something you should probably do anyways.
All of that should mean your property value is quite safe, presuming the completion of effective decontamination. Then again, we’re not realtors. We can only speak to our own observations. From that perspective, it seems most buyers content themselves with knowing the home meets all state requirements. Indeed, our clients haven’t reported any trouble with property value once a home is clean. It’s when the problem remains unaddressed that such concerns start to surface.
As for the Smiths, there’s much more to their story. But that isn’t specific to stigma and meth. That part of the tale relates to finding the right person for the job. (We’ll cover that in the upcoming weeks.)
In the meantime, remember to test for meth any time you buy or sell a property. For the most accurate results, we recommend hiring a professional in your area. Depending on your situation, that might be a Certified Decontamination Specialist. If you’re in Utah, give us a call, and we can help you figure out your next step. (801) 888-6698.