If you’re selling a house with mold problems, you need to understand your options to get the best possible price. Mold removal can cost as much as $6,000, and that’s just part of the mold remediation cost.
You’ll need to get it appraised and stage the house afterward to make it presentable for showing.
Here’s everything you need to know about selling your house with mold problems.
Step 1: Understand the Health & Structural Risks of Mold Damage
Mold affects both the structure of your home and your health, and it can grow visibly on the outside or inside your walls, where it’s invisible.
Different types of mold affect you and your home differently, which is to say a mold that causes allergies won’t damage the wood.
Mold thrives in dampness and grows on wood, paper, cardboard, carpet, even food.
Common sources of mold problems include:
- Roof leaks
- Leaky plumbing
- Damp crawl spaces, attics, and basements
- Wet clothes in the laundry room
Avoiding or controlling/limiting these moisture sources goes a long way in preventing mold spores from growing and creating problems indoors.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention points out that mold enters your home through doors, windows, and long-term exposure can cause asthma and respiratory allergies, especially in children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
California’s Department of Public Health goes even further, correlating mold exposure to the risk of eczema, eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and congestion.
The agency points out that dampness in living spaces leads to a code inspector marking your home as substandard.
In fact, the California Residential Building Code specifically lists dampness and mold in the following passage:
"Any building or portion thereof including any dwelling unit, guest room or suite of rooms, or the premises on which the same is located, in which there exists any of the following listed conditions to an extent that endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants thereof shall be deemed and hereby is declared to be a substandard building:
(11) Dampness of habitable rooms.
(13) Visible mold growth, as determined by a health officer or a code enforcement officer, as defined in Section 829.5 of the Penal Code, excluding the presence of mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their properly functioning and intended use."
As mentioned above, however, there are thousands of different species of molds, and each affects your home and health in different ways.
Black mold is most often cited when selling a house with mold problems, but it only affects your health. Other molds cause wood rot, which compromises the structural integrity of a house.
Step 2: Assess the Damage – Where and How Bad Is It?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service differentiates between mold fungi, which discolors wood without damaging it, and decay fungi, which causes brown rot, dry rot, and other structural damage to the wood.
Locating and diagnosing the damage from these different mold types can be difficult since one is more visible.
1. How to Find Mold in Your House
Black molds, like the infamous Stachybotrys chartarum, are easy to see. They’re dark black in color with a rough, fuzzy surface that discolors whatever surface they’re on.
These molds often grow on walls (especially in cracks where moisture builds up), on tile mortar, ceilings, and in furniture and carpets. The discoloration left behind is referred to as mildew.
Musty odors are a strong indication of mold, especially invisible molds inside your walls. A flashlight can help find discolorations, and a thermal imaging device is often used to detect mold beyond the naked eye.
Other common locations for mold are around air conditioning units (inspect drain pans, drain lines, evaporator coils, and anywhere you see leaks), vents, sinks, kitchens, bathrooms, leaky windows, laundry rooms, and anywhere consistently damp or recently flooded.
More than just wood, mold loves the cellulose contained in drywall. Be wary of any areas with exposed drywall, wet carpet, and other telltale signs of mold.
2. What Does Mold Look Like in a House?
Many forms of mold are visible, and they show as fuzzy, leathery, textured surfaces. They’re often circular and overlap to create a polka dot pattern, and you’ll find these patterns on walls, floors, and ceilings, both inside and out.
While black mold is obvious, decay fungi is a lot harder to diagnose. Dry rot has four stages and exists as a microscopic spore in the beginning.
As it builds up, it resembles fine orange dust that can easily be mistaken for sawdust. If those spores are given moisture, they grow white hyphae strands, which germinate to form mycelium, which becomes a fruiting body that produces more spores.
Once you begin seeing the fruiting bodies of this mold, it’s necessary to remove all the decayed wood and spores, which raises the mold removal cost. This is much more expensive than black mold, which can be cleaned with soap, water, bleach, and elbow grease.
Dry rot is particularly damaging when it affects the structural integrity of the house. In these cases, it’s unlikely your house will pass inspection and ever sell to a traditional buyer.
Although different types of mold cause varying levels of damage, any signs of any species of mold will throw up red flags on any home inspection. This drastically reduces the selling price and even your ability to sell your home.
Step 3: Legalities of Selling Your House with Mold
When selling a house with mold in California, you’ll need to disclose whether you’re aware of the problem in writing. This is done using the California Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Form.
In addition, mold is listed in California Civil Code 1102-1102.17, and the state maintains a Code Enforcement database of whom to contact to report mold problems.
If you don’t disclose the existence of mold, don’t for one second think the next owner is going to be ok with it. Once they discover the mold (and they will), they’re going to want remediation.
If mold is not disclosed, this can put you in a lot of legal hot water, as the buyer can sue you for the existence of mold in the house if he or she can prove it was pre-existing.
Also, if you’re hoping to rent out your home instead of selling it, your tenants have two legal pathways in the state of California: “rent withholding” and “repair and deduct.”
In each case, you will lose revenue if you don’t keep your house in a habitable condition according to state law.
Don’t even think about selling or renting a house until after mold remediation.
Step 4: Mold Remediation – Is It Worth the Cost?
Deciding whether to get mold remediation isn’t a decision at all – it’s going to need to be done one way or another. Like cancer, the faster you fix a mold problem, the less damaging it is. Mold remediation costs vary wildly though.
A small mold issue can be cleaned with a pair of rubber gloves, a face mask and goggles, a scrub brush, and some mold-killing cleaner like Tilex.
A few additional cleaners you can use are:
- hydrogen peroxide
- baking soda
- tea tree oil
- and detergent
Are also powerful mold killers. While these cleaners kill mold, it doesn’t always fix the mildew stains that it leaves behind. Stained areas of carpet, grout, and drywall may need to be replaced.
Dry rot and large areas of mold require professional inspection and cleaning. These inspections cost an average of $300-$400 for houses below 4,000 square feet, while the average cost for mold remediation is $2,226. The price range is anywhere from $50 of cleaning supplies up to $6,000 with several experts involved.
After mold removal, it’s important to change the environment in the house:
- Remove moisture, dehumidify, and fix any sitting water or leaks that make ideal hosts for mold colonies.
- Improve the airflow and ventilation in your home and install HEPA and active carbon filters wherever possible.
- Make sure your house is fully dry and clear of mold before listing, or you risk a sale falling through after the buyer’s home inspection.
- Then you have to repair or replace the affected areas.
If mold was living on the walls, you may repaint. Mildew-discolored grout can turn off buyers, so this will need to be refinished. The hidden costs of mold damage can be extensive.
Step 5: How to Sell a House with Mold Problems
Now that you know the costs involved, the ultimate question is what to do?
There are three options for selling a house with mold.
You can either:
- fix it and list it
- drop the price and list
- or sell the house as-is.
Each has pros and cons, so let’s go over them!
1. Fix and List
Fixing and listing your house is the ideal solution for small mold problems. If it’s something you can simply clean (i.e. a small patch of mold on your shower tile’s grout), you can do so and list the home.
Of course, you’ll need a home inspector to validate that the mold is removed, and it’s best to do this prior to listing the house. If potential buyers and agents catch wind there’s a mold issue, they may be deterred from buying.
Fixing and listing a house gets you the most money possible on the sale, but it also requires you to do a full mold remediation job yourself. So long as there’s no structural damage, this is easy.
If the underlying problem (i.e. faulty plumbing or a leaky roof) still exists, simply removing the mold won’t be enough to get the full listing price.
2. Drop the Price and list
When fixing isn’t as easy, the reality is you won’t get the full listing price. There are times you’ll be able to remove the mold but are unable to afford the costs of fixing the root problem or cosmetic damages caused.
Dropping the listing price of a home below market value is a strategic move to roll associated costs of damage into the value.
This essentially admits to issues with the home (you will be disclosing them to the buyer) and giving financial concessions to give the buyer liquidity to fix these issues moving forward.
While this option can squeeze as much value as possible out of the home, you’ll still need to pay for a real estate agent, listing fees, staging costs, and other associated costs of selling your house on the open real estate market.
3. Selling the House ‘As Is’
The final option is to simply sell your house ‘as is’ to a real estate investment company like SoCal Home Buyers. This saves you time, money, and stress in both fixing the mold problem and selling your house, and it’s the quickest way to get cash in hand for your house.
Even if you fix the mold problem, residual effects of it can leave your house sitting on the market longer, costing you every minute.
We give you a cash offer for your house in ‘as is’ condition to make selling a house after mold remediation or before, easy. Selling a house with mold problems can cost you thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, especially when it involves broken plumbing, roof leaks, and other detrimental problems.
Regardless of what you choose, you need to get started now.
The longer mold is left alone, the more spores it releases into the air and the further it grows into its life stages. Once mold reaches the fruiting stage, it’s a lot harder to fully remove from your house.
Mold is a term used to describe hundreds of thousands of species of microorganisms that live everywhere around you. It lives on your clothing, in the wood of your home, and even in your food.
Some molds cause wood rot that damage the structure of your house, while others are toxic to humans, causing allergies, respiratory issues, and possibly even death.
Cleaning mold can be a hassle. First, you have to scrub everything clean with a mold-killing cleaner. Then you need to fix discoloration caused by it while also reducing moisture and improving airflow, ventilation, and filtration in your home.
From there, it’s necessary to fix the underlying problem that caused the mold. This can be faulty plumbing, leaky roofs/windows, or flooding.
At SoCal Home Buyers, we understand the difficulty of selling a house with mold problems. We buy houses ‘as is’ for cash, so you not only can sell a house with major mold damage, but you get the most money possible as fast as possible.
You don’t have to fix the problem yourself or shoulder the burden of the mold removal cost, which includes cleaning, repairs, staging, listing, and related closing costs.
If you’re interested in selling your home with mold ‘as-is’, contact us today. We serve homeowners in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Orange County. You can either fill out our online form or call us direct at: 951-331-3844 to find out how we can help you with selling a house with mold problems today!
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