Mold house foreclosure Friday

Two years ago, Larry Butler and Judit Szaloki had just purchased their first house after saving for years to enter the expensive Charlottesville housing market. At 5pm Friday, what was once their dream house will be auctioned off at the Charlottesville Circuit Court, and the family of six will continue the downwardly mobile slide that began when they set foot in the mold-infested nightmare at 2207 Wayne Avenue.

"We knew it was coming," says Butler, who hopes that whoever buys it will rent it back to them for a couple of weeks.

Butler and Szaloki contracted to pay $246,000 for the 2,200-square-foot brick rancher off Angus Road that seemed perfect for their four kids and for Szaloki's day care center, which had been a prime source of income for the family. Two days after they closed on the house February 10, 2005, one of their asthmatic daughters ended up in the emergency room after going the house.

The community rallied to the family's plight, and the mold in the 1960 dwelling was remediated. But the process left walls stripped of sheetrock, kitchen cabinets and working bathrooms. Because of the condition of the house, Szaloki was not able to get her daycare business going. The couple's cars were repossessed, and they fed their children using food stamps, while Butler struggled to keep his Ivy Square business, Uncle Larry's Toy Shop, afloat.

Butler and Szaloki say their realtor at Real Estate III should have warned them, and that previous owner Steve Dudley did not disclose the house's history of flooding, nor did his agent at Montague Miller. Real Estate III contends the couple was advised there was mold in the house.

"It still kind of angers me people higher up in the community didn't do anything for us," says Butler. "I have no faith in the court system."

According to an ad about the foreclosure auction, the buyer should bring a deposit of $15,000 or 10 percent of the winning bid, whichever is lower, and closing is within 15 days of the sale. The ad does not note that the new buyer is going to have to do some work to make the house habitable.

The family of six is looking at squeezing into a two-bedroom apartment. "Three bedrooms go for $1,500, $1,600, and then you add in utilities," says Butler. They've found a two-bedroom for $815 that's "tiny."

Butler concedes there will be some closure to getting out of the house that has been such a horror story. "But it saddens me because we're never going to be able to own a house in Charlottesville," he says.

"I don't know who in their right mind will buy it," he adds.

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