Can You Sell a House With Mold?

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Mold. Four little letters, one big problem. Homeowners ready to sell their home may have mold on their minds, especially if they fear it will make it harder for them to close the deal. 

So, can you sell a house with mold? The short answer is yes, you can. 

Read on to understand better how mold affects your ability to sell your home and what your next steps should be if your home contains mold. 

Why is mold such a concern?

Not all mold is cause for concern, but some types of mold are dangerous for your health. This doesn’t mean that mold is necessarily dangerous or life-threatening as soon as it appears, but long-term exposure can lead to health issues.

Because mold spores tend to be airborne, we breathe them in, which is harmful to our respiratory system and lungs. Immunocompromised individuals, infants, and elderly adults, are more likely to develop a health issue from repeat mold exposure, but no one wants to live in a home with mold, even at their healthiest. Especially since mold can make your house smell “old.”

According to the State of Rhode Island Department of Health, mold may lead to the following health issues:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itching
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

What causes mold?

Mold stems from a few different causes and can form anywhere where there’s oxygen and water. Even though mold can form in any area of a home, there are a few particular sweet spots it tends to pop up in and one overarching cause — moisture. 

  • Wet roof: When you have a wet roof, moss can grow, which can lead to mold that can get inside the home and spread.
  • Leaking roof: Keep a close eye on the attic, where a leaking roof can lead to enough moisture to encourage mold growth. 
  • Leaking pipes: Pipes also leak, which can cause water damage and mold growth. 
  • Damp crawl spaces: Particularly, crawl spaces near moist entities like dirt or soil can cause mold to grow. 
  • Windowless bathrooms: All that humidity after your hot shower can stick around and cause mold, especially if you don’t have a bathroom fan or the ability to open a window to let that moisture out. 

As you can see, water is your number one enemy when it comes to your fight against mold, so pay extra close attention anytime you discover excess moisture in your home. 

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Do you need to disclose mold before you sell your home?

In most states, sellers need to disclose any known defects to the buyers in their paperwork — including whether or not the home has a history of mold and if the home received professional treatment to resolve the issue. California is an example of a state with strict disclosure requirements. If the homeowner is aware of the presence of mold (or water damage that indicates potential mold contamination) in their property, they have to disclose that fact to buyers.

Your real estate agent will have a better idea of your specific state’s requirements when it comes to disclosing mold. Even if you aren’t legally required to disclose a current or prior mold issue, this is something you should be frank with the buyers about. Because there are serious concerns around living in a home with mold, the buyer deserves to know about it before closing on the home. It’s the right thing to do. 

How does mold affect your home’s value?

The extent of the mold problem in or outside of your home will be what truly determines the effect on your home’s value. 

Mold on the home’s exterior isn’t likely to have a substantial impact on the property’s value, as it doesn’t pose much of a health or safety risk. The exception to that is if the mold damages the outward appearance of the home. If possible, try to remove any exterior mold before you put your home up for sale.

When it comes to interior spores, you have a more significant issue on your hands. While buyers won’t be as deterred by mold or mildew found in areas with regular exposure to moisture, such as a bathroom with a shower in it, they will be more likely to raise concerns about mold found in otherwise dry areas of the home such as floors, ceilings, and walls. 

Because mold remediation is an expensive problem to resolve, buyers typically want to pay less for a home with mold since they will have to spend more on remediation services. 

The cost of mold remediation depends greatly on how many areas of the home have mold. A mold remediation specialist will search every area of the home, including crawlspaces and ductwork. Mold remediation can cost anywhere from $500 to $6,000.

Who pays to resolve mold issues?

If there is mold in a home that’s for sale, the buyer can’t require the seller to pay to fix the issue, but they can ask them to pay for it. If the seller won’t cover mold remediation costs, there’s a chance the buyer will walk away from the sale. 

How this negotiation goes depends greatly on what the real estate market looks like. In a seller’s market, homeowners will find that buyers make certain accommodations they wouldn’t make if there were more sellers than buyers on the market. Your real estate agent should be able to take a temperate check of the real estate climate in your area to give you an idea of how much power you have in these types of negotiations. 

What should sellers do if they have mold?

When it comes to mold, the best time for buyers to address it is before they even put their house up for sale. It takes time to resolve mold issues and you don’t want interested buyers to associate your home with an ongoing mold remediation. It’s better if they come in once the mold is behind you and in the past. 

If you’re unsure if your home has mold, you need to search your property for signs of mold. Review any areas of the home where moisture accumulates. Don’t forget to take a peek at somewhat hidden areas, such as the basement, attic, and behind the water heater. If you don’t see mold growth on an exterior surface, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. If you uncover any areas of the home where major water infiltration occurred, you need to confirm no mold is brewing. 

If you have concerns about mold contamination, hire a mold inspector to take a look to give you some clarity on the situation. If the inspector finds mold, you can make a plan to deal with it. If they don’t find any signs of mold, you’ll have a record of your home’s clean bill of health to show off to potential buyers. 

Home sellers don’t need to be afraid of mold. It’s a pain, but in all likelihood, you can deal with it and go on to sell your home for a great price.

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