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Chinese Drywall Found in Foreclosed Homes

Aug 3, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

For months, we have reported on homeowner complaints regarding Chinese drywall. Now, it seems, homes known to contain the toxic drywall are being put up for sale.

According to WINK News, a never occupied home in Northwest Cape Coral—four bedrooms and two baths—is up for sale for just $19,800. Despite that the home has been contaminated with toxic Chinese drywall, consumers are expressing interest. According to WINK News, an investor from out-of-town is in contract on the house.

"We are probably experiencing anywhere between 10-15 calls a day in addition to email leads inquiring about property with Chinese drywall," Realtor Jennifer Pentico said, quoted WINK News. "A lot of these consumers don't know the ramifications of Chinese Drywall and what it's potentially going to take to remediate something like this," Pentico added.

Earlier this year, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint, which were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), most of the 810 Chinese drywall complaints it has received since last December have come from Florida (621). The state with the second highest count is Louisiana (105). Others have come from consumers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Common features of the reports submitted to the CPSC from homes believed to contain problem Chinese drywall have been:

  • A “rotten egg” smell in homes.
  • Health concerns, such as irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks.
  • Blackened and corroded metal components in homes and the frequent replacement of components in air conditioning units.

Pentico says that potential home buyers should consider hiring an inspector and signing off when they are aware that they are purchasing a house containing toxic Chinese drywall, reported WINK News. For example, said Wink News, a couple who purchased a foreclosure said, "While we were down here on vacation it was all over the news about Chinese drywall, so we said to the builder, 'you would know if we had Chinese drywall in the house, wouldn't you?' And he said 'oh yeah, you don't have Chinese drywall',” quoting the couple. In that case, the air conditioning coil’s copper fittings were black, a symptom of exposure to defective Chinese drywall.

And, while WINK News was able to secure a copy of that house’s inspection, there is no indication that the problems are connected to defective Chinese drywall. WINK News said that based on its conversations with lenders and insurers, they are saying that loan or coverage approvals for Chinese drywall contaminated homes is difficult.

It’s estimated that more than 500 million pounds of possibly deficient Chinese drywall entered America between 2004 and 2008. An Associated Press report said that was enough material to build about 100,000 homes.

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