In this article:
Mold inspections aren’t usually a part of regular home inspections, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one before you close on a home. Mold growth can pose a threat to your health and can cause damage throughout the property. Not to mention, if mold is left untreated it can spread, and the problem can become much more serious - which isn’t good for your well-being or your home resale value.
Buying a house with mold may not be worth your health and wellness depending on how extensive the contamination is. You should at least try getting the seller to pay for professional mold remediation if there's a problem, but being proactive and getting a mold inspection when buying a home can let you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
How to know if there's a mold problem
Before you close on a home, you want to know if there are any skeletons hanging in the closet - or in this case, if there are any mold issues. A professional mold inspection will be necessary to confirm the presence of mold in the home, because even if it's not visible to the naked eye, it might still be there. Before you get an inspection though, you can try to identify any signs of mold growth.
To start, look for signs of water damage, like warped walls and peeling wallpaper. Leaks, water stains, and wood rot all commonly lead to mold. Even if mold hasn’t formed in the home yet, these issues, if left unattended, can mean mold is on the way.
Check damp areas where condensation can easily form, like crawl spaces, basements, and attics. Older homes are particularly prone to mold since they may have experienced wear and tear from leaks, floods, and intense rain.
You can also trust your sense of smell. Any musty or woody odors can also indicate mold, which could spread through an HVAC system and compromise air quality. You may even spot fungus, fuzzy spots, or mildew on vents.
How much does a mold inspection cost?
How much a mold inspection costs varies greatly, as the size of your home and where you live can play a very big role in what you spend. You may pay anywhere from $100 to over $700 for a mold inspection - the cost of which can include mold testing and a complete report of all findings.
If extensive work needs to occur in order to complete the mold inspection, this can drive up the cost. For example, the mold inspector may need to remove drywall. If you have concerns about mold being in the air ducts, you can get a HVAC mold test that costs a lot less than an inspection for the whole home (usually up to $75).
Not only is mold bad for your health, it’s also bad for your wallet. You'll need to deal with mold found after an inspection before you close on the sale. If the inspector uncovers a problem with the house, mold remediation can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. Similar to mold inspections, the larger your house is, the more expensive the mold removal service. In some cases you'll have to get rid of items (like furniture) when they can't be salvaged by upholstery or carpet cleaning.
Homebuyers typically pay for a mold inspection, but if you discover mold in the home before you close on the home, you can try to negotiate with the seller and have them pay for mold remediation. If they don't agree, you can always choose to walk away from the sale.
Does mold affect getting a mortgage?
If you need to take out a mortgage loan in order to buy a home (which most people do), then mold can cause some big financing issues. Lenders require that homes are habitable before they will approve a mortgage loan.
If signs of mold show up during an inspection, the lender will require you or the seller to eliminate it or fix the cause of it before they extend the loan. If the seller won’t pay for these repairs, the buyer can choose to pay for them. Selling a house with mold can be challenging though, so buyers may have more negotiation power than they think.
Buyers who can’t afford mold remediation services can see if their mortgage lender offers renovation loans. This type of loan allows the buyer to add the cost of the mold remediation or other repairs to their mortgage.
Should I get a mold inspection when buying a house?
While a home inspector isn’t a mold inspector, they can still look for signs of water damage and mold growth during the home inspection. (All mortgage lenders require a home inspection, but if you’re buying a home in cash, you shouldn’t skip the inspection.) Home inspectors tend to get a closer look at a home than a buyer does, and you’ll want their opinion regarding whether or not you need to hire a mold inspector.
If the home inspector suspects any mold growth or thinks the home needs a closer look, then you should hire a professional to conduct a mold inspection. Even if the regular home inspector isn’t concerned, you can still hire a mold expert to scope things out. It’s generally a good idea to do this no matter what, since only a professional can detect signs of hidden mold.
Spending a few hundred dollars up front to make sure your house isn’t riddled with mold is a sensible way to protect your finances and your health in one fell swoop. The last thing you want is to settle into your new home only to discover you have a mold issue on your hands.
Dangers of buying a house with mold
If you’re wondering why people and lenders make such a big fuss about mold, there’s good reasons for their concern. Living in a building that contains excess moisture and poor ventilation can lead to a toxic mold infestation, which can damage your health. Mold is especially dangerous for infants, young children, senior citizens, people who are immunocompromised, and people who have respiratory conditions like allergies or asthma, since indoor mold can negatively affect air quality.
When exposed to a large amount of mold spores continuously, you can experience the following symptoms that can feel similar to allergies.
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Difficulty breathing
The more mold exposure someone faces, the worse these symptoms can become and this exposure can eventually lead to more serious illnesses. Be careful when buying a home with mold, but especially when buying a house with black mold, which is especially highly toxic.