Black Mold Affects Home Value – What to do about it for Buyers and Sellers
How does black mold affect home value? Can you sell a home with black mold? What should buyers know about black mold? We answer all your questions, and arm you with the knowledge you need for your next real estate transaction.
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You know many things affect your home’s value: the neighborhood, the age of the home, improvements you’ve made, the current real estate market, and the condition of the home. Home value is somewhat subjective. One thing you can count on, of course, is the better condition your home is in, the more likely buyers will be excited about it.
In this article, we will talk about what happens for both buyers and sellers if mold is in the picture. Can you sell a home with mold? Should you buy one or is it a deal breaker? We tell you everything you need to know.
What Is Black Mold? Where Did It Come From?
From the arctic to equator and all the places in between, mold lives literally everywhere. Molds are fungi, and grow from microscopic spores that are everywhere in the air. Molds are important for recycling organic matter (such as leaves). The recycling process they perform returns nutrients to the soil, and is important for plants to grow. In order to grow, molds need four things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and the right temperature range (ideal is between 77F – 86F). It is difficult to impossible to control the temperature and amount of oxygen in the unconditioned spaces in your home (attic, crawlspace, behind cabinets, etc). So, let’s think about the things you can control when it comes to mold.
Molds grow inside of their food sources. They penetrate deeply into drywall, carpets, floors, cabinets, underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, etc. Anything with carbohydrates in it could be considered a food source for molds.
Moisture is the one thing you can reasonably control when it comes to mold. A dry home equals a home with much less mold growth. Keeping areas dry, especially areas that use water frequently (like bathrooms), is important to prevent mold growth.
How Fast Do Molds Grow?
Moisture behind baseboards and cabinets, wet carpet tack strips, in crawl spaces, basements, and other hard to reach areas are a ticking mold time bomb. Once enough moisture is present, molds can begin to grow in less than 48 hours! Even with fans going and mopping up the water, it may not be enough to prevent mold growth.
How Do I Know I Have a Black Mold Problem?
Sometimes you can visibly see mold growing, but other times it is more difficult to detect. Tight spaces such as in attics, behind cabinets, and in crawl spaces are not places people are likely to venture, unless they are buying a home. You might notice a musty, wet dog, old gym sock kind of smell. What you are smelling are called MVOC’s or Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds. If you smell those musty smells in a home, it probably has mold. The best way to know if you have mold is to get a comprehensive mold inspection performed.
Is mold dangerous?
In one word… Yes. Whether you are buying or selling, mold is NOT something you want in your home! It hides in places no one ever thinks to look like under cabinets, in crawl spaces, and behind furniture. People may spend weeks, months, and even years fighting illness, and never know what they are really fighting…mold. Many of our customers find us after a recommendation from their doctor, that they may in fact have a mold problem, and not just an illness.
Mold is most often associated with allergies, but mold is much more menacing than people know. While all molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms, molds can also cause much more dangerous health problems including: fungal poisoning and mental health problems.
Black Mold – A Misnomer
Before we go any further, let’s clear up the confusion about ‘black mold.’ When you read about ‘toxic black mold’ it is kind of misleading. The thing is… dangerous and toxic mold is not just black, it can be many different colors. Toxic molds can appear to be green, yellow, brown, and black.
All molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms. It is important to note that the longer you are exposed to the mold, the more pronounced your symptoms become. At first, it might just be allergy symptoms, but over time (weeks, months, years) mycotoxins build up in your system, and can make you sicker and sicker.
Not all molds are toxic, but many are. Mycotoxins can cause health problems ranging from poisoning to cancer. You can be affected by mycotoxins even if you are not allergic to mold.
So, What is a Mycotoxin?
Mycotoxins, literally ‘fungus poison’ in Latin, are secondary metabolites that can be produced by molds, and are not living organisms. Mycotoxins are a byproduct of mold. Not all mold spores produce mycotoxins, but some do. So the molds that produce mycotoxins are the ones that could be categorized as toxic or poisonous.
So, where is the line between an allergic mold and a toxic mold? That line is defined by the presence of mycotoxins, and is NOT defined by color. Mycotoxins are invisible and cannot be detected just by looking at the mold growth.
What Do Mycotoxins Do?
These chemical substances can cause many health problems ranging from mild to severe. Even if you are not allergic to mold, you can be affected by mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins can be absorbed by the body in a number of ways including: through the skin, the airways (inhalation), and through the intestinal lining (ingestion). Detrimental health effects caused by mycotoxins can range from “acute poisoning to long-term effects such as immune deficiency and cancer.”2 Chronic disease sufferers, such as people with immunosuppressive disorders or underlying lung disease may be more sensitive to molds and mycotoxins in their environment.4
One of the main ways people and pets become poisoned by mycotoxins is through eating contaminated foods. Foods such as apples, cereal grains, coffee beans, nuts, spices, dog and cat food, and more can become contaminated with fungi that produce mycotoxins.
To learn more about mycotoxins in foods check out the World Health Organization’s article: Mycotoxins.
Did you know that toxic mold can affect your pets as well? To learn more about how mold affects your pets check out our article: Mold and Pets – 10 Things You Most Likely Didn’t Know.
To learn more about mold and your health check out our post: The Health Effects of Black Mold.
Please remember that this blog is NOT intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Always talk to your doctor about symptoms of any medical condition you are experiencing. It is unlikely to experience all the symptoms listed, but many of these symptoms could be cause for concern. An open dialog with your doctor is important for any medical condition. Ask questions to be sure you understand your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process.
To learn more about how mold can affect your health check out our post: Health Effects of Black Mold.
What is the Difference Between a Home Inspection and a Mold Inspection?
Home inspections are an important part of any real estate transaction. They make sure the home is in good working order, the trim is not rotting, the appliances are working, the roof is sound, and the foundation is sturdy.
Mold inspections are different from home inspections. While most home inspectors will report mold they see through the course of their inspection, they aren’t going to go out of their way to find it. They certainly aren’t going to take any responsibility for it because home inspectors are not legally required to report mold. A fact which most home buyers and sellers are unaware.
A comprehensive mold and indoor air quality inspection (like ours) should give you vastly more information about possible mold than a home inspection. Mold usually forms when there is a moisture problem or leak. Until the leak is fixed (and even after it is) the mold will continue to grow unless the mold is removed.
Unscrupulous sellers will often try to hide mold by cleaning the surface of an area and adding fresh paint. This is NEVER a good idea! It its both a nightmare for the buyer, and legal headache for the seller. With a comprehensive mold inspection like ours, you gain the knowledge that every part of the home from attic to foundation has been thoroughly checked for mold.
It is worth every penny as a buyer or a seller to have a comprehensive mold inspection performed. As a seller, you can add the inspection report to your home’s disclosure statement increasing buyer confidence. As a buyer, you have the knowledge you need to negotiate if mold is found, or to know that this home is safe. No matter if you are a buyer or seller, you gain peace of mind.
How Do You Choose A Mold Inspection and Removal Company?
Do you know what to ask mold inspection and removal companies before you hire them? Have you ever had mold removed from your home? What do mold removal companies really do?
As a mold inspection and removal company, we know what you should expect and what the industry standards should be. Some of our competitors offer “free” mold inspections. Which basically means that the inspector shows up and hands over a price to fix a symptom, without truly knowing the nature of the problem. The primary reason that we charge for our comprehensive mold inspections is the time and resources that go into each one.
If you think you might have a mold problem, you’re far better off with a thorough inspection like ours. We analyze the symptoms to determine the root cause of your problem, and will only recommend solutions that will solve the actual problem.
Be sure to check out our post: How to Choose the Best Mold Removal Company. We let you know all the questions to ask mold inspection and remediation companies, so that you can hire the right company for the job.
Mold Affects Home Value – Seller’s Perspective
You’ve been doing home improvement projects for weeks, and are so excited to finally sell this house! What if the buyer or home inspector finds mold? Will you loose potential buyers? Will you loose money on the sale? What if you know about the mold and don’t tell anyone? Are there legal ramifications?
It is possible to sell a home with mold, but be sure you know how to do it right. Keep reading, and be sure to talk with your real estate agent ASAP. The sooner you deal with the mold, the better.
Is it Legal to Sell a House with Mold?
There are no state laws that prohibit sales of homes with mold, including homes with toxic mold. However, what matters is how much you disclose to the buyer. If you know your home has mold, and try to hide it, you could be sued based on intentional non-disclosure.
Also, when buyers find mold during home inspections, they tend to panic and walk away. Mold is a big problem! One which most people tend to avoid. Be sure to talk with your local real estate agent to determine what to disclose about your home.
What do I have to tell the buyers?
Always err on the side of honesty. Telling buyers upfront about any problems with the home (including mold) will save you headaches of broken contracts and lawsuits later. In this case, disclose, disclose, disclose! You may lose a few potential buyers, but the buyers you want will be glad for the extra information.
I thought my house was perfect, but the home inspector found mold. Will I lose the sale?
It’s possible and probably likely. Mold is a deal breaker for most buyers. However, it doesn’t have to be. Take the following actions to save the sale, or attract the next buyer.
Your Number One priority is to get your own comprehensive mold and air quality inspection performed. Maybe the problem is very small and you could DIY a solution. Maybe it takes over the entire downstairs! You won’t know without your own comprehensive mold inspection report.
Do you know what to ask mold inspection and removal companies before you hire them? What do mold removal companies really do? Especially if you live outside our service area, check out our post: How to Choose the Best Mold Removal Company. We let you know all the questions to ask.
Options for Dealing with Mold
You asked all the questions, and hired a mold inspection company. They have given you a comprehensive mold inspection report, and you do indeed have a mold problem. Their report should contains all their findings, photographs, and recommendations… or it should. Here at Branch Environmental, we make sure you see everything we saw in your comprehensive mold inspection report, and help you understand what work needs to be done.
When we inspect your home, we look at everything from attic to foundation, and leave no stone unturned. If the mold removal company you interview doesn’t offer you a comprehensive inspection report, they probably aren’t the company you want.
Can I DIY or Do I Need Professional Mold Removal?
Once you have had a mold and indoor air quality inspection, you may wonder if professional help is really necessary. Customers often ask us, “Can I clean the mold myself or do I need a professional?”
Our answer depends several factors including:
- how extensive the mold problem is
- what building materials, furnishings, and belongings are affected
- where the mold is located
- whether or not you mind being in confined spaces such as your crawlspace, basement, or attic
If you’re familiar with our blog, you know that the first thing to do when cleaning mold is to fix the moisture problem that led to the mold growth. Until you fix the moisture problem, mold will continue to grow and spread.
It’s time to call in the professionals when:
- you smell a musty odor in your home you can’t identify
- there is an area of mold larger than 10 square feet
- you have health problems associated with mold
Mold is great at hiding in hard to detect locations such as in drywall and insulation. If the area of mold covers more than about 10 square feet, there is a good chance the mold problem is more than an isolated issue.
If the area of mold is less than 10 square feet, you may be able to handle it yourself. To get all the details check out our post: Cleaning Mold: DIY vs. Professional.
Option 1 – Dealing With Mold Now
You have a large amount of mold and need professional help. You have decided to deal with the mold now, remediate the property before selling, and fix all the problems. We highly recommend this option, since it will eliminate the issue from your real estate transaction. This choice can be expensive depending on how extensive the problem really is, but shows to potential buyers that the house is safe.
Be sure to include a copy of all the information about the inspection and remediation in your disclosure statement. By including the information in your disclosure, you have given buyers the knowledge they need to make a good decision.
Lenders also can see that you have fixed potential pitfalls for buyers to receive a loan to buy the house. Many lenders want nothing to do with a sale that involves mold. Honesty goes a long way toward reassuring buyers and lenders that the home is safe!
Option 2 – Is it Possible to Sell a House with Mold?
What if you own a house you just have to sell, mold or no mold? Can you sell a home without fixing mold problems?
It is possible to find buyers who will purchase a home with known mold issues. In this case, you should disclose what you know, including a copy of the comprehensive mold inspection report, and get an estimate for the mold remediation costs from the inspection company.
Informed buyers are happier buyers. Especially if you lower the price of the house to accommodate the remediation costs, buyers much more likely to be willing to tackle the problem. You have essentially done the homework for them, they just have to wait until the home is finished to move in. They also get peace of mind that the home is in excellent shape when they do occupy it.
Mold Affects Home Value – Buyers Perspective
You’ve found your dream home, and hope to live in it forever! But you’re smarter than the average home buyer, and you paid for a comprehensive mold inspection during your due diligence period.
Your inspector wrote a comprehensive report and this is what they found:
Scenario 1: No mold. Home is in excellent shape. Go for purchase! This is of course the scenario everyone wants, but is not always the case.
Scenario 2: There is a little mold in a small area (less than 10 sq. ft.). Recommend that the seller fix the water leaks that led to the mold, clean the mold, and have the property re-inspected to be sure the mold is gone. Also, a good scenario and relatively easy to fix.
Scenario 3: The home is infested with mold, and whole floors or ceilings will have to be removed and replaced. This is every buyer’s worst nightmare. Here is where you have to make hard choices.
Knowledge is Power!
By this point in this article, we hope you have seen the value of the comprehensive mold inspection report separate from a home inspection or appraisal. Your wise decision to purchase a comprehensive mold inspection report along with your home inspection was money well spent. Knowledge is power! You have the power in the negotiations with the seller at this point, armed with the inspection report knowledge.
Knowing what you know now about mold, you could choose to walk away. But if it’s your dream home, that could be very difficult! What you might be willing to pay for the home now, and its appraisal value, may change now that mold is a major problem. Sometimes lenders will not allow you to purchase the home without fixing the mold issues.
You could ask the seller to remediate and repair the property. You could also negotiate a lower the price for the home, so that you could have the remediation and reconstruction performed. Knowing what needs to be remediated and repaired, and how much it will cost, makes a big difference!
The Branch Difference
At Branch Environmental, our company slogan is that “Nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick!” When we perform an inspection, we work tirelessly to determine the root cause of your problem.
If you think you need a comprehensive mold and indoor air quality inspection, get in touch with us, and we’ll get down to the source.
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants, we can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness – CDC
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – Branch Environmental
- 3 Big Ways Mold Removal Services Can Make Your Life Better – Branch Environmental
- What’s that musty smell? MVOC’s
- Should I Get a Mold Inspection When Buying a Home? – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose the ‘Best Mold Removal Company Near Me’ – Branch Environmental
- Mold Exposure Symptoms – Branch Environmental
- How Your Home Can Affect Your Allergies – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – Mycotoxins – Branch Environmental
- Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults – Branch Environmental
- Health Effects of Mold – What You Probably Don’t Know – Branch Environmental
- Water Leaks Contribute to Mold and Health Problems – Branch Environmental
- Black Mold Removal Near Me – 7 Things You Should Know – Branch Environmental
- Cleaning Mold: DIY v. Professional – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose a Mold Removal Company – Important Facts That You Should Know – Branch Environmental
- Cost of Mold Removal – 5 Important Facts You Should Know – Branch Environmental
- Mold from a Water Leak? – Everything You Need to Know – Branch Environmental
- 10 Things You Need To Know Today About Black Mold From a Water Leak – Branch Environmental
- The Health Effects of Black Mold – Branch Environmental
- Black Mold on Carpet – 12 Things You May Not Know – Branch Environmental