If you’re thinking of selling a home or in the real estate industry, you’ve heard about mold and the health dangers it poses. You’ve probably also heard that finding mold in a home can be the kiss of death for a sale that would have otherwise gone through. Takes these steps to avoid unknowingly selling a house with mold problems.
Realtors need to arm themselves with knowledge about mold including the many types of mold, which kinds can be dangerous to a person’s health, remediation steps that need to be taken once it’s discovered, and what a buyer and seller options are once the mold has been detected.
Real Estate Agents: Save the Sale by Catching Mold Before the Home Inspection
Before we get into the guide, it’s important to point out that not all mold is deadly or even dangerous. There are many different species of mold. One of the most serious and toxic species is Stachybotrys (otherwise known as black mold).
This is one of the molds real estate agents hate finding because it can kill a real estate deal. Not all black mold is the deadly Stachybotrys, and the only way to tell is to have it tested.
Places Where Mold Can Grow
Mold can grow anywhere the environment suits it. Mold thrives in consistently damp and dark environments. Spilling water one time in a dark area is not usually going to cause mold to grow. Consistent leaks into a warm, dark space will.
There are numerous places around a home where these conditions are more likely to create a mold issue.
Bathroom shower: The shower and tub in the bathroom is an obvious starting point for mold to grow. Showers and bathtubs are typically made of materials that are not suitable food for mold species however the wood and drywall around your tub and shower are nutrient rich for microbes. Realtors should be looking for cracks or openings in or around tubs and showers as potential areas where mold can grow. Bringing a flashlight with you on any pre-inspection home visit can help you see inside areas where water has been leaking.
Mold Under sinks: Over time, faucets can loosen allowing small amounts of water to leak out. If left unchecked, water can cause mold to grow far up under a sink where the faucet attaches to the counter or where the plumbing from the slab enters the house. This spot is hard to see without laying on your back and getting under the sink, so it’s a likely place for mold to form. It’s also consistently dark and damp under sinks in general.
Hot Attics: The attic is a likely area for mold to form after leaky roofing shingles allow water to seep in. It’s also an area that we seldom go so mold infestations can spiral out of control. Realtors need to remember to check the attic before any inspection (hint: a flashlight comes in handy here too).
Water Heater Closets: Water heaters can also leak when the seal inside them become old and deteriorate. If your water heater is located in the garage or a closet that is also loaded with other stuff, it may be difficult to see the leak or mold until it has progressed to dangerous and costly levels.
Garages: Water from leaks, water softeners, irrigation systems, vehicles and outdoor gear collects on garage floors. Any type of grade issue or pitting can cause standing water in a garage which then can cause mold on wood or drywall surfaces inside your garage.
Behind Drywall: When water gets trapped behind drywall that creates the perfect environment for mold to grow. The bad part about this is that you cannot see it even if you try. You may notice a peculiar smell from time to time or staining or “shadows” on the wall. These are all signs you may be selling or buying a house with mold issues.
Spotting Mold in a Home
Now that you know where to look for mold, you have to know what you’re looking for. There are a few different ways that mold can be detected. Those are visual, smell, and health indicators. As a successful realtor, you won’t have the time or the opportunity to notice any health indicators. These are typically noticed by homeowners over long stretches of time.
Visual mold indicators: This is one the easiest methods for noticing mold in more accessible areas like in bathrooms, garages, under sinks, or other similar areas. Visual indicators can be discoloration, the presence of water or dampness, peeling or bubbling paint, or ceilings or walls that are bulging. Some of the visual signs are just indicators of water damage, but where there is water damage for prolonged periods, there is almost always mold to follow.
Smelling Mold: Molds create a noticeable odor. This smell is especially true in tight, confined areas that such as attics and closets. Realtors evaluating a home should keep their noses open for musty smells. Note that just because there is a musty smell does not automatically mean there is mold. You should look for visual indicators as well and call in a mold inspector for certainty.
Verifying A Mold Infestation
Even experienced realtors cannot say for sure there is mold in a home. Contact a licensed professional to take samples and determine if a substance is a dangerous mold or not. Realtors should have this done before the formal inspection by the buyer, so they can prepare their seller for how to handle the situation.
How Home Sellers Should Handle Mold Issues
If the inspector discovers mold, keep in mind that honesty is the best policy. Homeowners that try to cover up a mold infestation expose themselves to potential liability down the road should the new homeowner get sick. In many states, there are legal documents call mold disclosures that sellers are required to sign and give to a buyer letting them know they have no knowledge of mold in a home.
If you discover what you think is mold in your seller’s home, recommend that they get it tested to confirm the type of mold it is. Once you learn that it is in fact mold, the best course of action is to tell any potential buyers that you know there is mold in the home and that it is being remediated by a professional remediation company. Selling a home after mold remediation happens all the time.
This absolves the home seller of any future liability and can help move the sale of the home along. Home buyers that discover mold in a home and that a seller has tried to hide it from them will never want to work with the seller on fixing things. Once trust is broken in a real estate deal, it is lost for good.
Mold in homes for sale is never a fun situation and can delay or crush a closing but if you are proactive, honest and seek the help of a professional mold removal company in Tallahassee, you should be able to close a successful deal.