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 also need to understand:
- The risks of mold to your health and your home’s structure
- What mold looks like and how to find it and identify it
- The legal proceedings to take declaring it in California
- Your three options to selling your house with mold, including how to appraise and stage the home for sale
On top of this (if you choose to list it) you’ll need to get it appraised and stage the house afterward to make it presentable for showing.
In this post we’ll cover everything you need to sell your house with mold.
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.
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 and food.
Common Sources of Mold Problems Include:
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 and windows and can grow from damp areas like un-ventilated bathrooms.
Long-term exposure can cause asthma and respiratory allergies, especially in children, the elderly, and those with bad 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 can lead 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 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 destroys the structural integrity of a house, and could lead to major and costly repairs.
Assess the Damage – Where and How Bad Is It?
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.
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.
What Does Mold Look Like in Your 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, fair market value and even your ability to sell your home.
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.
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.
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:
While these cleaners kill mold, it doesn’t always fix the mildew stains that it leaves behind.
Stained areas of carpet, grout, and drywall will be home improvements to make before selling.
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:
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.
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 the House
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.
As 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.
Don’t worry though; you can still sell a house that needs major repairs.
Dropping the listing price of a home below fair 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 or seller concessions to the buyer to fix these issues on their own 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 real estate market.
3. Selling the House ‘As-is’
This saves you time, money, and stress in both fixing the mold problem and selling your house.
It’s the quickest way to get cash in hand and walk away with having to do very little.
Even if you fix the mold problem, residual effects of it can leave your house sitting on the market longer, costing you every minute it doesn’t sell.
When you work with a cash buyer we’ll buy your house in ‘as is’ condition to make selling a house before mold remediation, 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 structural problems.
If you’d like to see what we can offer you for your house with mold contact us today or call us at: 951-331-3844 to discuss how you can sell your house with mold and walk away stress-free.
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 on a house.
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 and will end up costing you more money.