Buying and Selling a Home With Mold
It is important for anyone interested in buying and selling a home to know that almost all real estate transactions can be saved when mold is discovered. Buying and selling a home with mold is not only possible, it is often far easier and cheaper to resolve than most people realize.
There are really two primary concerns for both buyers and sellers of homes regarding mold:
1. Health effects of mold
2. Cost to fix the mold problem
Consider health effects of mold when buying real estate. Let’s tackle the first issue: Health effects of mold. Despite media hype, most health effects related to mold are exaggerated and unproven. To the best of our knowledge, there is no existing scientific proof that mold exposure is related to the onset of deadly diseases like cancer .
However, this is not to say there are no health effects from mold exposure. There can be health effects and they are typically allergy related and similar to how someone might respond to other allergy irritants like pollen. Thus, mold symptoms can include a runny nose, nasal congestion, coughing, skin rash, eye irritation, sore throat, and sneezing.
If you have allergies like us, these above symptoms can make you feel miserable. So the mold problem should be taken care properly before you move into your dream home. But two other really important points for buyers and sellers to consider mold health effects:
What to consider when buying a home with mold.
1. Everyone responds to mold differently. There is a spectrum between those people who are very sensitive to mold vs. others who are not and those in between. The highest risk populations to mold exposure include infants and children, pregnant women, the elderly, people who are already sick or have existing health conditions and those who have respirator conditions like asthma.
2. If a mold problem is fixed properly, you can rest easy. It is not going to suddenly come back without warning in 5 years … Unless: the water problem is not fixed. In other words, the cause of all mold problems is: WATER! The presence of mold indicates a water problem. If the mold is properly removed, but the water problem remains unfixed, it is likely that the mold problem will return.
Mold Is Discovered During a Home Inspection. What Is Going To Cost To Fix?If mold is uncovered during a real estate transaction, how much is it going to cost to fix it? The answer depends on several factors discussed below. But in some cases, believe it or not, you or someone else might be able to remove the mold yourself without seeking professional help.
Whether or not you can fix the mold problem yourself is based on several factors:
Size of contamination area. According to the EPA, if the mold area is less than about 10 square feet it may be manageable without professional help. This is not a hard and fast rule but just a general guideline and other factors such as the extent of the water damage overall need to be considered.
How handy the individual is. You should be comfortable and experienced with doing house hold repairs because even many minor mold jobs (less than 10 sq feet), usually involve using tools, taking down drywall, etc.
Susceptibility to mold health effects. People who are sensitive to mold or who fall into the high risk group above (Pregnant women, the elderly, etc) should not be around mold and should leave the removal to professionals.
Location of the mold. Confined spaces like crawl spaces and attics often have mold. Due to the tight space, reduced ventilation and higher risk of injury it is recommended to seek professional services for mold removal in these areas.
Buyers and Sellers, take note: Attics and crawlspaces are without a doubt the two most likely places that a home inspector is going to find mold. This discovery often catches buyers and sellers by surprise because neither probably looked in these spaces beforehand. Our advice to sellers is for you or someone else to take a quick look at your attic or crawlspace before you put your home in the market to check for mold. If mold is discovered, much better to fix it before you list your property.
If mold is discovered during a real estate transaction and the parties decide to hire a professional to fix it, how much is it going to cost? The answer: anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand or more. It just depends on the extent of the mold problem and how much work is going to be needed. But based on our experience, most mold problems in real estate transactions are usually on the smaller size and cost far less than most sellers and buyers would assume.
Mold is discovered during a home inspection. Is a mold inspection needed? Buyers – what happens if your home inspector finds mold? Should you pay for testing. The answer is usually no. The reason: once you know you have mold, you just need to get rid of it. This is the same advice the EPA provides.
Mold Disclosure LawsOne final thing to note is that mold disclosure laws vary from state to state. This means some states require sellers to disclose the presence of existing mold or prior mold, while others do not
What does all of this mean if you are buying or selling a home and mold is involved? To summarize:
• If you are a buyer of a home, don’t walk away from your dream home because a little mold is discovered. In fact, you may even receive a great deal on a home with mold because other buyers will lose interest due to lack of education. And you can usually skip the mold inspection.
• If you are a seller of a home, don’t panic. Many mold problems are far cheaper to fix than most realize and can sometimes be done by the homeowner.
• If you are the buyer or the seller (or anyone else for that matter), health effects of mold are typically allergy related and other symptoms are often unproven. Also, mold disclosure laws vary from state to state.