Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Something smells fishy

So I've been curious about the over-300% markup on the price of that big house (the one at 12525 Quicksilver Road), considering it was worth $200,000 just a few months ago, and tangibly the only thing that changed was they painted it and put on a new roof. That wouldn't justify going from $200,000 to $650,000, right?

I was also curious that the listing agent put in the notes on the property that it could have a Commercial/Industrial use but didn't list the property on any of the commercial real estate sites. Those are the code words for "marijuana can be grown here" in the Boulder County zoning codes right now. (Especially curious because the property actually CAN'T have those uses--it's not zoned for that). (I did try asking the real estate agent about this via email and got no response.)

And I was curious that someone would go to all the expense and trouble to get the change of use approved for the big building and then not bother to move in. Almost the instant the change of use was approved, the property was put up for sale with the exorbitant markup. But that change of use wouldn't justify the markup--unless you were trying to pass off the change of use as making pot-growing allowed on the property. (It's not, even with the change of use, because pot growing is controlled by zoning law, not by the site plan review board; also the change of use was approved for a specific business and with certain assurances in place about what that business was going to do with the property.)

So I emailed the potential tenant (the information on change of use is public record, so easy to find out who got the change of use and for what purpose) of the property to see why they decided NOT to move their business there after going through all the change of use process. I told them I would like to buy the property (I would, very much) and wondered if there was something wrong with it.

They emailed me back today that they didn't know the property was for sale and have been waiting all this time for the owners to get back to them about the change in zoning, and they're still planning to move their business there, but aren't interested in actually buying the property. (Curious because the change of use was approved--so why didn't the owners tell the tenants that? And why rush to put it up for sale with a huge markup on price immediately, before telling your tenants?)

Does this sound like I just uncovered fraud to anyone else?

What am I supposed to do about that?

Update: I emailed the realtor, and he said the deal on that property is you buy the LLC that owns it, not the property itself, specifically so that none of the permits and changes-of-use that were granted (to the company who didn't know they were granted) will be up for question like they would with a change of ownership. That way, he explained, the county can't cancel them and will have no reason to question them.

Probably the same reasoning was in play when they gutted the smaller building on the property without a permit--then you can re-do the inside without getting a building permit (supposedly) because nobody knew the drywall came down in the first place. (Although removing all the drywall in a building and stripping it to its studs seems a little excessive to get rid of cat smells. Makes me wonder if the small house had a meth problem.  One more thing for the list of things to check...)

So, theoretically, the people whose application got the change of use and site plan approved don't know that, and the people who do know are trying to sell it with the unspoken understanding that they won't tell the county you aren't the same people, and you can then use it for an "intensive agricultural operation" you don't want the county to know about...

I have no idea if the whole setup is legal, but I certainly wouldn't buy without talking to a lawyer first. Quite possibly their entire intention is simply for you to take over as property manager and let the tenants (who they haven't told about the change of use yet) move in and use it like they believe they are contracted to (even though the realtor had no idea there were tenants contracted in the place until I told him).

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