Credit: Bradenton Herald-Tribune
The biggest court cases have been settled, and contractors have been working to fix houses built with defective contaminated Chinese-made drywall for years. But houses that contain the malodorous material are still appearing for sale on the Florida real estate market — with the problem undisclosed by sellers and unsuspected by buyers. That's because homeowners facing foreclosure may have lost their homes — or simply walked away — without addressing, or even knowing about, the contaminated drywall, reports the Bradenton Herald-Tribune ("Bad drywall still a problem for home investors," by Josh Salman).
"Surging demand from buyers has pushed lenders to rush distressed homes onto the market, many of which were built during the mid-2000s real estate boom, at a time when inexpensive Chinese-made drywall was abundant," the paper reports.
Estimates of the number of houses containing the bad material don't reconcile well with the amount of drywall known to have been imported into the country. "An investigation by the Herald-Tribune and the watchdog journalism organization ProPublica found that nearly 7,000 U.S. houses were built with bad drywall, yet enough material was imported to build at least 100,000 homes," the paper reports.
Now, houses are coming onto the market that have never been inspected to determine whether they have the bad material—even though left in place, it can destroy air conditioner coils, plumbing, wiring, and electronics. "I'm bidding on houses and I keep finding out they have Chinese drywall," Bob Tarlowski, an investor and contractor who buys and repairs homes in North Port, told the paper. "After I turn them down, they stay up for bid. The banks don't disclose it, and there's no recourse."