Home is where families spend most of their time together. When searching for the right house, home buyers are looking at aesthetics, yard size, kitchen appliances, and bedroom arrangements. Buyers find the right house, fall in love, hire the inspector, and are devastated when inspection reveals the presence of mold.
North Carolina requires sellers to disclose known “material facts” about the property, including the presence of water damage and mold. However, often mold is not discovered until the property is under contract. For real estate agents, education is key to closing sales despite the presence of mold.
Real estate agents do not have to be surprised by mold. Your best bet whether you’re representing the buyer or seller, is to proactively look for mold. There are several key signs of mold in a house:
1) Existing Water Damage
Central and eastern North Carolina recently experienced its second 1,000-year flood in just twenty years. Mold can develop within 48 hours of the occurrence of water damage. If water damage is not repaired quickly and properly, mold is likely. When walking through a home, there are several signs of existing water damage:
- Discolored ceilings, walls, and carpets
- Spongy or springy flooring
- Roof damage and missing shingle
- High water marks in the basement
- Ponding water in the crawlspace
- When plumbing appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, toilets, and water heaters fail, homeowners may replace the appliance while neglecting potential water damage. Look for signs of water damage around and underneath new appliances
2) Roof and Pipe Leaks
Water leakage creates an environment conducive for the development of mold. Leaks are common around pipes, plumbing appliances, showers and bathtubs, toilets, and roofing. Encourage sellers to repair active leaks and have the immediate area inspected by a mold remediation professional.
3) Musty Odors
Odor can be one of the clearest signs of mold. If you and your buyer enter a home that smells like a week-old, wet gym towel left in a hot car, the presence of mold is almost certain. However, the odor may be subtler and isolated to a specific area of the home. Mold is commonly found in attics, basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, and kitchens.
4) Excess Condensation
Lingering condensation on windows, window sills, and in bathrooms are signs mold may be hiding. Even if the mold itself is not identifiable, the presence of excess moisture is enough evidence to encourage a seller to have their home inspected by a mold remediation specialist.
5) Existing Mold Growth
The most obvious sign of the presence of mold is seeing it with your own eyes. However, mold is often misidentified as dirt or stains. You can find out more about identifying mold here.
In brief, molds are usually green, pale blue, grey, white, or black. To distinguish grey and black colored mold from dirt, examine the texture. Molds are bumpy, velvety, or slimy. They tend to colonize and will often manifest like splattered paint-balls. If there is any concern, contact a mold professional for more information.
Mold allergies are different for everyone and less likely to manifest during a short viewing of the home. However, if you or your clients experience an onslaught of allergies in a particular home, it could be indicative of the presence of mold if you can, rule out other allergens like pet dander, pollen, and dust. If other environmental triggers are not present, pay close attention to the other signs of mold in a home.
If you find mold during a transaction, do not panic. The sellers will be frustrated and the buyers will be devastated. However, mold can be remedied. Work with the seller and buyer to hire a reputable mold remediation company who will assess the situation, remediate the mold, and correct the source of the moisture.
The remediation process is an opportunity to negotiate with the seller and the buyer to ensure both parties are satisfied. Education is key to making a successful transaction out of a moldy situation.