Selling a House with Mold
Picture this: you’re about to sell your house, so you conduct an inspection of your basement. You notice a black spot on your wall and ceiling, and an unpleasant smell in the air, resembling wet socks and rotting wood.
You realize, with mounting dread, that you have a mold issue on your hands. Your former dream home is now a problem property.
Mold is a microscopic organism responsible for breaking down organic matter and returning the nutrients to the environment. Moisture, oxygen, and food sources such as drywall, wallpaper, insulation, the cellulose in wood, can encourage mold growth.
Left unchecked, mold brings with it a host of health issues, and when it gets bad enough, mold can even affect the structural integrity of your home.
Can You Sell Your House with Mold Issues?
The short answer is YES, you can sell your house with mold issues.
It can be surprising to learn that there are no legal restrictions preventing you from selling your house with mold issues. However, depending on the severity of the mold issue, retail buyers may not be able to get financing. If you don’t want to eliminate the mold issue, you will need to find a buyer who can pay cash.
Further, disclosing you are selling a home with mold is required whether you sell to a cash buyer on the market or off-market. More on disclosing mold later.
Despite mold being a common problem in buildings and homes, the discovery of mold can still present as a homeowner’s nightmare. According to the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), there are over a thousand species that have been found in homes across the United States.
Having mold in your home is not the end of the world.
It also doesn’t mean that you are an irresponsible homeowner. Mold spores are in the air all around us both indoors and outdoors, but it doesn’t grow until it attaches itself to a surface that could foster mold growth.
Damp, moist environments are a hotbed of mold infestation. The amount of moisture determines the extent of mold colonization and the types of mold that may be present.
Doing a professional inspection by hiring a mold inspector before listing your home can save you headaches down the line and would allow you to address mold problems before they get bigger and cause further damage.
The presence of mold can put a damper on real estate sales. It is advised to remove mold first and address all other issues such as necessary repairs before looking for a home buyer. This will ensure that any buyer who requires financing will get approved by their lender.
What are the Signs of a Mold Problem?
As mold thrives in humid, airless surroundings, check areas of your home where moisture accumulates. These areas include basements, crawl spaces, attics, air-conditioning ducts, areas underneath the washing machine or behind water heaters and water tanks, and other hidden, hard-to-reach areas.
Black mold, also known as toxic mold, can be easily identified. They can appear as spots in your home’s walls or ceilings. It is greenish black in color, with a rough, fuzzy surface and a distinctive musty odor. Visible mold growth can be seen on walls where cracks have formed due to moisture seeping through (such as in flooded basements), tile grout, carpets, and ceilings.
Mold contamination can also make a house “smell old”. Reminiscent of musty gym socks, the stench in the air can be an indicator of the frightening prospect of mold growing inside your walls.
According to the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), infrared cameras can be used in the detection of mold that may be invisible to the naked eye.
Telltale signs of mold also include discoloration of walls and ceilings. You can use a flashlight to help locate these problem areas.
If you think your house has a mold problem, call a home inspector right away. A few hundred dollars of investment in a mold inspection is definitely worth it regardless if mold is found or not. On average, a home inspection costs $648.
If there is mold present, you can make plans on how to deal with it. Always remember that you don’t have to be scared of mold. You can fix the issue and find a home buyer to whom you can sell your home for a great price.
If no mold is found, your home can then be given a clean bill of health, which you can show to potential buyers so they can have a peace of mind when purchasing your home.
What are the Hazards of Mold?
Different types of mold can affect your home in different ways but they can be dangerous all the same.
Present Mold Issues is Harmful to Health
Mold exposure can pose serious health risks.According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mold causes coughs, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, burning eyes, and skin rashes. It can even trigger asthma attacks and severe allergic reactions. In the worst case, people with compromised immune systems can even get respiratory system infections from mold.
Mold can Affect Your Home’s Structural Integrity
Dry rot is a specie of mold that feeds on the cellulose and moisture found in wood. It can cause structural damage which can result in costly repairs.
It is harder to diagnose than black mold since it starts off as a fine orange dust which can be mistaken for sawdust. Moisture exacerbates the problem as it encourages the growth of mold until the spores become a fruiting body which produces even more spores.
Removal of this type of mold is more expensive as all decayed wood and spores must be removed to get rid of it entirely. This would involve not only the mold removal company, but a general contractor especially if it entails major structural repairs. It is therefore best to check for dry rot routinely.
If quick mold remediation is not performed, and dry rot continues to eat away at your home’s structural elements such as beams and columns, they will lose strength over time.
You risk racking up tens of thousands of dollars in costly repair costs, not to mention risking life and limb in the event of a collapse.
It is recommended that mold removal be done by professionals to ensure the problem does not come back.
What are the Causes of Mold Growth?
Mold grows in an environment that can provide it with moisture, oxygen, and a food source such as wood and drywall insulation.
A major water infiltration, such as a flooding event, can leave water in nooks and crannies of your home, providing the best conditions for mold growth.
A leaking roof, if not repaired as soon as possible, can let moisture into the rafters and your ceiling joists, causing wood rot which can develop into major structural damage later on.
Other causes of mold include: humidifiers, windowless bathrooms and basements, poor ventilation, damp crawl space, and broken pipes and plumbing fixtures.
Regular home inspections can enable you to nip the mold growth in the bud and prevent it from transforming into a problem beyond your control.
What to Do About Mold Spores?
Mold spores get into the home by way of windows, doors, vents, and heating and air-conditioning systems.
Interior spores typically don’t do any damage as long as they don’t have a moist environment to land on. They are also harmless to people with strong immune systems.
However, once it finds ideal conditions in your home, such as a recent flooding event, leaking pipes, or a wet roof, mold can start growing in as fast as 24 hours. In the event of a flood or a major water leakage, prioritize getting everything dry first.
If you catch the mold early on, the easier and cheaper it is to fix, and the less damage it can do.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if the moldy area is less than 10 square feet, you can handle the job yourself using a scrub brush and a mold-killing cleaner such as bleach.
Make sure that you are wearing protective equipment such as rubber gloves, N-95 face mask, and goggles before you go about scrubbing mold. However, going the DIY route may not fix the stains that black mold may leave behind, so you would still need to hire renovators to fix cosmetic issues and repair the root cause of your mold problems.
If the mold problem is too extensive, you must leave it to the pros. Mold remediation companies charge between $13 to $28 per square feet.
How Do You Prevent the Growth of Mold?
According to the CDC, after mold has been removed from your home, it is required that you fix the environment to prevent mold from making a comeback.
First and foremost, remove moisture and dehumidify.
Repair roof leaks and waterproof the basement to prevent moisture from getting in places it shouldn’t be.
Improving airflow and ventilation by installing exhaust fans in basements and bathrooms can also allow the moisture to dry out faster, eliminating the dampness. When cleaning, you must use mold killing products.
Getting rid of carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and unable to be dried will also eliminate conditions conducive for mold growth.
Can Mold Affect Your Home’s Market Value?
If you find mold on your home’s exterior, it won’t have a negative impact on your home’s value. Mold on the exterior also won’t pose much of a health or a structural concern. However, from a curb appeal perspective, it’s best to remove the mold to prevent it from spreading and becoming a problem.
Mold found on the interior, on the other hand, especially in areas expected to be dry such as ceilings, walls, and floors, are a significant issue. Some interested buyers are instantly turned off the moment they find out about a mold issue.
Ongoing mold problems can devalue a home by as much as 23% according to financial adviser Jack Schoppa. In some cases, such as in the state of California, visible mold growth can instantly deem your house to be substandard.
Should You Undertake Mold Remediation?
If you’d like to get a fair price for your home, it is recommended to hire a professional mold remediation company to eliminate the problem and prevent further mold damage.
Selling a House with a Mold Problem
Depending on real estate market conditions, selling houses in perfect condition can be challenging enough. But selling a house with mold? It can be daunting, but not impossible.
Here are 3 options on how you can go about selling your home with mold issues:
Option #1: Fix the Mold Issues then List with a Real Estate Agent
Before putting your home up for sale, you must undertake mold remediation first. You don’t want potential buyers to associate your house with an ongoing mold remediation as it can take a while.
After the mold remediation, confirm that black mold is indeed gone by having your home inspected and the mold inspection results documented.
A traditional buyer looking for their dream home typically wants the house to be move-in ready. Therefore, in addition to mold remediation, you must get a reputable contractor who can do the repairs and renovation necessary to help you get top dollar from your home sale.
If you choose to do a traditional sale by listing with a real estate agent, they can help you price your property appropriately. They can also suggest improvements to boost your home’s value and increase its curb appeal. They will also be the ones responsible for handling the real estate transaction from the negotiating to the closing.
However, do note that this convenience comes at a price in the form of commissions and other associated costs. After factoring in your initial investment with the mold remediation and the subsequent renovation, you may not be able to profit as much as you’d like.
You can then consider going the For Sale by Owner or FSBO route. By doing so, you have full control over the entire process, but also full responsibility. This means you will be the one to market, negotiate, and close the deal on your property.
Option #2: Drop the Price then List with a Real Estate Agent
There are cases when, although you may be able to afford the mold remediation costs, you may no longer have funds left over to fix the other the issues in your home such as replacing the roof, waterproofing your basement, or repairing the busted plumbing.
In this case, it may be a strategic move to lower the selling price so that you can compensate the potential buyer for the repairs they need to make after purchasing your house.
Keep in mind that while this can increase the fair value of your home as compared to selling as-is, you’ll still need to pay for the real estate agent’s fees, listing fees, staging costs, and other associated costs if you do a traditional sale.
Option #3: Sell As-Is to a Real Estate Investor
If you don’t have the time, money, or energy to resolve the mold issues and whatever issues that need fixing in your home, a real estate investor can handle these hassles. A real estate investor will let you walk away with cash in hand to start anew elsewhere in as little as 7 days.
Selling to real estate investors is the quickest way to get cash for your home with mold problems without having to do anything for your house. Unlike traditional home sales, you can leave all of your mold issues behind when working with a cash buyer.
Real estate investors generally seek out problem properties that they can purchase below market value. That’s not to say that they are not buying it for a fair price, they just have the repair and renovation costs factored in the cash offer to make it a win-win for everyone involved.
As a cash buyer, they accept whatever condition the house is in: wet roof, black mold, flooded crawl space, mold contamination, and whatever problems which can cost thousands of dollars to rehabilitate.
In selling your house with mold as-is, due diligence in selecting your buyer is a must. Unfortunately, there can be scammers mixed in with legitimate buyers looking to prey on unsuspecting sellers. Do your own market research and get offers from more than one real estate investor.
Tips on Selling a House with Mold Issues
Disclose Mold Right Away
Real estate transactions require trust. Most states’ disclosure laws have made it mandatory to disclose mold due to the dangers associated with mold. Nondisclosure of this type of information can land the seller in legal hot water once it is proven that the mold problem is pre-existing.
Furthermore, even if mold remediation has been undertaken, there are states in which the seller must still disclose the situation to potential buyers. It is better to err on the side of goodwill by being upfront with this information.
Offer Credit to the Buyer for Mold Remediation
Although the buyer cannot compel you to fix the issue yourself, you can cover the mold remediation costs to make the sale more attractive. However, most retail buyers will need a loan, and most lenders will not approve a loan on a house with mold issues. This strategy is best for a cash buyer.
Rehabilitate your House after Mold Remediation
If you’re planning to sell on the market, it is important to get to the root cause of the mold issues before listing. Making the repairs so it doesn’t cause problems later on, or worse, return with a vengeance, is recommended.
Getting your House Ready for the Sale
1. Start with a visual inspection
Before you sell a house, perform a thorough visual check starting with the basement and other areas of high humidity such as bathrooms, laundry areas, crawl spaces, and the attic. Inspect every nook and cranny for signs of infestation.
2. Do the repairs if you can
Remove the mold using a scrub brush and bleach. Restore the affected areas to halt mold growth. For areas that were stained, you can simply paint over them.
If the work needed to be done is too extensive for you, hire a professional mold removal team and renovation contractors to help you fix the mold issue.
3. Have your home inspected by a professional
Mold inspectors have tools and equipment that can detect mold that you may have missed. An inspection report showing that your house is free of mold is also beneficial in reassuring potential buyers that your home’s moldy past is far behind.
4. Keep all documentation
Having a record of all mold-related repairs performed on the house is helpful to give to buyers. This lets you disclose mold legally and transparently to avoid issues after the sale.
Final Thoughts: Can You Sell a House with Mold?
Selling a house with mold exposure is difficult if you’re trying to work with a real estate agent— retail buyers can’t get financing unless you resolve the mold problems. However, if you are open to receiving a cash offer from local real estate investors, you can sell a house with mold contamination as-is.
Here at Sell My House Fast, we can give you a quick, no obligation cash offer. We buy all kinds of real estate–in absolutely any condition. Bowed walls? Moldy basements? Mold growth from a leaking roof? You name it, we’ll give you a cash offer for it!
We cover closing costs and unlike working with a real estate agent, we don’t charge commission. Our closing process is as fast as 7 days.
We understand time is of the essence when dealing with mold. Our team is available 24/7, so give us a call to discuss how we can help you sell your home with mold problems. (844) 207-0788
Sell My House Fast For Cash!
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Author: Andy Kolodgie
Andy Kolodgie is an experienced real estate investor with a network that expands nationwide. As owner of Sell My House Fast, Andy’s goal is to provide home sellers with more options to their real estate problems than a traditional home sale. He’s been featured on multiple publications including Yahoo Finance, MSN, HomeLight, Credit.com, Apartment Therapy, Business.com, LegalZoom, Zolo, and Creditcards.com.