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Buyers Of Foreclosed Homes Finding Disturbing Surprises

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It was something a Twin Cities couple never expected to find in their new home.

Deanna Nybeck pulled a bag of meth from her fireplace a few months ago. Now, more and more buyers are finding all sorts of surprises when they move into what were once foreclosed homes.

Not asking the right questions before buying a home could be a costly mistake.

The home seemed to be just what Nybeck and her fiancé were looking for last winter: three bedrooms, three baths on a corner lot in Coon Rapids. At first, the foreclosed home felt fresh and new.

But It didn't take long to learn its history. Once she moved in, her neighbors warned about rumors, and strangers started calling and stopping by at odd hours.

Still, she wasn't convinced until she found three ounces of meth worth thousands of dollars.

"This is where I found it right in this little hole," said Nybeck as she showed WCCO-TV photographers a brick under her basement fireplace mantel. "If I found that that easily, where else may they have it hidden?"

We checked and found the man and the woman who lived at the home before the Nybeck's moved in. Both were arrested for having meth.

"I was very surprised," Nybeck said. "I was under the impression [the bank would] have to disclose that information."

Turns out they don't. In Minnesota, when you buy from a regular homeowner, they're legally required to disclose anything they know about the home. But when you buy a bank-owned property, the bank doesn't have that history, so you won't know.

Foreclosures have made up about half of Matt Mclaren's business these last few years at Guardian Realty in Coon Rapids.

"There are a lot of risks, and they are buying it as is; and if they don't do some of that extra research, they're going in totally blind," Mclaren said.

Before they buy, he tells clients to talk to neighbors, get a professional inspection and run the address by the local police department. It's as easy as a phone call.

"I would have never thought about that," Nybeck said.

But she wishes she would have done the check. Since, in the end, it may have changed her mind about her decision to buy.

"I probably wouldn't have," she said.

Mclaren, the realtor, said that buyers looking at foreclosed homes should pull past permits from the city office. They will tell you about any past remodeling or repair work that's been done. Tat way, you're able to check if it's been done the right way.

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