When it comes to your home, you don’t want to mess with mold. Even if an issue is minor and harmless, it literally grows and can quickly become a bigger problem.
If you’re selling your home then buyers will be turned off by ugly spores that taint the home’s appearance (and possibly threaten its structural integrity) and worry whether the mold is going to have them coughing and sneezing upon move in.
By following these tips from experts in mold remediation and real estate, you can take your best shot at recovering the deal while still getting the money you’d hoped for.
When To Inspect
There are many types of mold, but only three main classifications for them: pathogenic, toxic, and allergenic.
- Pathogenic can cause serious infections because it affects both weak and strong immune systems.
- Allergenic is not severely harmful in small quantities but can trigger allergies in people who are susceptible and cause symptoms for those with asthma.
- Toxigenic mold refers to a batch that has mycotoxin, which is what makes it harmful to a person’s health.
So, mold can show up in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Some of it’s toxic, some of it isn’t.
But the important thing to remember is that if you can see visible mold, there’s no reason to spend the time or money on getting a mold inspection—you already know it’s present.
In these cases, you can simply skip to the cleanup stage, either by cleaning it up yourself (only for very small infestations—more on this below) or calling in a mold remediation company.
Bigger Than You Can Handle?
The do-it-yourself method involves a bleach mixture and small hand tools. There are also several ways to clean mold without harsh chemicals, including using vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil.
But DIY cleanup is typically not a long-term solution. This is because cleaning up mold, whether with bleach or another gentler solution, will only handle the mold growth—not the spores. After the area builds up a resistance to the homemade mixture, the mold will drink up any water you are feeding it.
Additionally, having someone qualified to remediate the mold will save you money in the long run; ensuring someone will do the job correctly to preserve structural integrity.
If removed incorrectly, a mold infestation can grow and become a very expensive project. Aside from the financial impact, negative health effects increase significantly when cross-contamination occurs.
Even Cleaned Mold Can Return
Since mold often grows in attics and crawl spaces, if you don’t check those areas out regularly, you may have no idea you have a mold problem until it shows up on the buyer’s home inspection report.
If mold is detected, the buyer will most likely request remediation. Usually, it makes much more sense to go ahead and fix the problem, rather than fight it.
Always Let Buyers Know
No matter how big or small your mold problem, and whether or not it’s been remediated yet, you should always disclose mold using the proper disclosure forms.
This is one of the many reasons it’s important to use an experienced real estate agent. An agent’s guidance can help prevent any inadvertent lack of disclosure on the seller’s part, and ensure that any disclosures are made properly.
Document, Document, Document!
Speaking of disclosures, it’s in your best interest to document any problems you’re aware of and the steps you’ve taken to fix them. That applies to mold just as it would to a leaky roof or termite infestation.
Proper documentation could include:
- Photos of the mold infestation prior to any cleaning or remediation
- Written documentation of any steps you took yourself to clean it up (through using a bleach solution, for example)
- Reports and receipts from the mold remediation company you used
- Ongoing efforts to dry out the area, such as using a dehumidifier
Since each state has its own rules on disclosures, a real estate agent will be able to guide you through your state’s disclosure process and requirements. You can also find out what forms and documentation are needed by visiting your state’s Department of Real Estate website.
Vet The Pros
Selling a home with mold is a lot easier once you have certification from a reputable remediation contractor, so you must choose wisely.
Don’t be afraid to ask how a remediation company disposes of waste materials if they’re insured, how they document their work, and what their opinion is regarding mold is a health hazard for a fuller idea of hiring potential.
Regular contractor liability insurance doesn’t cover environmental contamination, which is the category for mold. He points out that the typical homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover that type of contamination either.
Even if you are selling a home with a mold problem, it can help to have an idea of how to avoid it in the future and make sure you’re not creating any additional problems before closing.
After the removal is complete, keeping the house as dry and well-ventilated as possible is the best line of defense. Using dehumidifiers, fans, and open windows, you can significantly reduce moisture in the home.
Selling a home with mold can present certain challenges, but if you take the right steps to identify, remediate, and above all, disclose the problem, you’ll be on your way to a smooth home closing.