OSO, Wash. — A nurse missing in the Oso mudslide had closed on the purchase of her home on East Steelhead Drive 11 days before the slide came crashing down on her home and three contractors working on it.
The KING 5 Investigators have learned that Amanda Lennick purchased a foreclosed property, and that means that she likely did not receive the standard disclosure notices that sellers are required by law to give to buyers.
And many other buyers of foreclosed properties in hazardous areas may face the same situation.
“That’s a sad, sad thing because the consumers they don’t understand or they’re not aware of the situation,” said Herbert Burkhart, the owner of the ReMax real estate office in Arlington.
Snohomish County records show that lender Fannie Mae foreclosed on 31325 East Steelhead Drive in June of 2013.
It sat vacant until Amanda Lennick purchased it earlier this month.
“She was happy,” said Norm McFarland, Lennick’s boss at Providence Medical Center in Everett.
On Friday, she was gushing about her new home.
“She was telling me, ‘Hey I’ve got the house. I’ve moved in. It’s great,’” said McFarland.
The day after that conversation, the slide hit.
The law says that homeowners must disclose any problems with the properties to potential buyers.
But in foreclosures, the bank often has no information about the property history or natural hazards.
Banks do not have to fill out the form 17 that discloses all those hazards to a potential buyer in the sale of a foreclosed property.
Burkhart says even the banks realtors aren’t required to report any potential problems to a buyer.
“The agent could know all there is to know about it and they don’t have to disclose it. They should (but they don’t),” said Burkhart.
He says it’s even more troubling because of the number of foreclosed properties in Snohomish County that have been sold in recent years.
“Over 50 percent of the listing that were listed in the last year and a half, two years, were foreclosed properties,” said Burkhart.
That’s a lot of properties in a county with lots of flood and landslide zones.
In 2006, there was a large slide on the riverbank across from Steelhead drive, and the area has a long history of landslides.
The Department of Natural Resources has an interactive map that allows users to view natural hazards in their neighborhood.
Burkhart recommends finding a trusted realtor who is familiar with the area in which you wish to make a purchase.
He also says buyers should knock on doors and asks lots of questions of neighbors.