August 25, 2011

How to sell a house that has mold?

For many real estate sales people, Mold is a four letter word that should not be spoken. Granted, it isn’t the best situation to get stuck with a moldy listing, though it isn’t necessarily a lost cause. If you handle the situation properly, you may even provide additional value over other similar homes.

How do you know if your listing has mold?

Well as any busy foreclosure listing agent can tell you, sometimes it is fairly obvious. Homes get neglected when they are the result of a foreclosure, leaving obvious and visual damage. That’s not always the case. Many times mold can be hidden to the occupants and you the real estate professional. So what do you do then?

Well the best first defense is to get upfront inspections when taking a listing. If you have a suspicion that there is a mold issue, then a mold inspection with sampling would be appropriate. Although in most cases, getting a pest and home inspection will uncover any visual mold issues. Inspectors look at homes different than a homeowner, and put themselves in places a typical homeowner will never go. So a lot of time it doesn’t necessarily take a mold inspector to locate mold. And yes, most times “fungus” and “mildew” are just fancy words for mold.

When a suspicious discoloration is found, the next step is to confirm that it is actually mold. This takes a trained professional that may go by many names. “Mold Inspector, Hygienist, Indoor Environmental Professional”; the list goes on. All are designations that certifying boards give to individuals who pass an education requirement as well as a test. Very similar to the designations realtors get, these are not required to do business though show a certain level of education. There are currently no educational requirements, tests, or licenses in California or Nevada to be a mold inspector or remediator. (mold contractors need a contractor’s license in most states)Scary Huh!

So what do you do after you find mold?

Well, now that the inspection you requested has identified mold, I am sure you are regretting following my advice, though just think, this would have been found out later on. At that point, you may be throwing away a deal with the only buyer this house will solicit in your listing period. So the pest inspection that says they will “scrape the fungus and treat the area with Timbor and charge you $2,500 for section 1”, throw that out unless there is some actual pests activity or rot. Pest companies should not be remediating mold without containment and air scrubbing, and they should especially not be treating the mold with pesticides.

The below statement is a description of Timbor from a retailer:

“Timbor is an insecticide, fungicide and wood preservative for the protection and treatment of lumber against fungal decay and wood destroying insects. Timbor is a water soluble, inorganic borate salt with insecticidal and fungicidal properties. It is an effective treatment for wood to kill and prevent infestations of decay fungi including white rot, brown rot (i.e. Poria) and wet rots. Timbor does not treat mold or prevent mold from growing.” Read more.

So chemicals are not the solution. Don’t water down the bleach and start spraying unless you like poisoning yourself and your family. Call a professional that is experienced and certified to give you an estimate on the work. The work should include containment, air scrubbing, and post remediation verification (where a 3rd party inspector, not the contractor, does an inspection of the work after the mold removal is done and before the containment is removed or reconstruction starts). Stay away from contractors that want to use encapsulants and coatings. They are most likely doing your customer a disservice. Look for contractors with an IICRC certification in applied microbial remediation. This is the certifying body the insurance industry recognizes.

So, why is this better than having a house with no mold at all?

Well it isn’t. The truth is, there is no house without mold. Mold is necessary for life to exist. Homes are built with moldy lumber, and many of your listings already have mold, you just don’t know it. You already are selling moldy houses! The difference is the homes that professional companies like Tahoe Mold and Water have remediated have been scrutinized, inspected, pulled apart, and repaired. Our houses come with a 2 year warranty against mold returning, and we are there for the life of the home to answer questions the home owner has, and deal with any issues that arise in the future. This puts the responsibility on our shoulders, so you can sell more homes.

Please feel free to call Ned Riley to answer you and your client’s questions about mold, water intrusion and leak issues, as well as radon issues. Call 530-448-6494 or e-mail If you have a water emergency or need us to get on something ASAP, please call our 24-hour emergency call center at 888-583-MOLD (6653).

Tip of the month
How to know if a mold inspection is needed?
Are you representing a buyer with past mold issues?
Are you listing a home with a musty odor?
Has the home had a roof leak?
Do you know of a previous pipe burst/leak?
Are there visible water stains?
Do you experience allergy like symptoms after being in the home for a while?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should probably get a mold inspection.
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P.O. Box 5187, Tahoe City, CA 96145
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