Caveat emptor: Mold house auctioned off

The house on 2207 Wayne Avenue that was supposed to be the dream home of Larry Butler and Judit Szaloki was foreclosed upon and sold at auction September 24. The family discovered within days of buying the house in February 2005 that it was infested with mold when one of their children became sick and had to be rushed to the emergency room.

The community rallied to the family's side, and volunteers remediated the mold. But the family couldn't afford to replace the walls, cabinets, and appliances that were torn out, and they lived in the gutted shell for almost two years. And now the mold is back, says Szaloki, who moved into an apartment two months ago with the children.

"All my kids have really bad asthma and now depression," says Szaloki. "Now I have a place with a kitchen so I can cook for them, and a bathroom to take a shower."

Both Szaloki and Butler are bitter about their home buying experience, and bankruptcy remains a possibility in their future. "It's a sh*tty deal," says Butler, a former Marine who is the proprietor of Uncle Larry's Toy Shop. "No one got punished, and without a lawyer, that's hard to do."

Szaloki filed suit against the former owners, Steve and Betty Dudley, the real estate agents, and home inspector in February, but the suit was dismissed.

"What amazes me is how the city allows the house to be sold when it has mold," says Szaloki. "It has toxic black mold." She says an underground problem prevented water from draining from a sink and would have cost $35,000 to fix.

The couple paid $249,000 for the property, which sold at auction for $229,000. "Honestly, I was shocked it even sold," says Butler.

A woman answering the phone at the Richmond company that handled the sale says the lender bought the house back.

To the new owners, Butler has a message: "I want that person to know you bought a whole lot of heartache."

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1 comment

Same thing happened in California, at the RW Hertel & Sons development know as RANCHO OBISPO, Hertel built 53 Homes tried to cover up the leaks and Mold the State investigated found 51 homes to have defects over 20 homes with MOLD. Builder bought one back that had massive leaks and MOLD, then he sold it again.... Hertel is a well known cheap builder and is still under several investigations and has numerous Lawsuits, he even tried to silence some of the buyers from disclosing the leaks and Mold he sued his own buyers, he lost and now he facing legal action..