Over half of all American homes have some degree of mold contamination. Since mold can hide behind walls, under floors, and in HVAC systems, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to be unaware that they have mold problems.
But what about homeowners who do know? If you know your house contains mold, can you sell it? Do you have to clean it up first?
These and similar questions can leave homeowners stressed and confused. Fortunately, we have answers. Here’s what you need to know about selling a house with mold.
A Lot of Houses Have Mold
The first thing to know about selling a house with mold is that you aren’t alone. While it may not be openly talked about, mold is a very common problem. It can be caused by mundane things like:
- Leaking roofs or pipes
- Storms or floods
- Ventilation problems
- Naturally damp environments
Having mold in your home doesn’t mean you’re a bad homeowner or that potential buyers are going to judge you. What it does mean is that you need to consider the presence of mold and its effects on the sale process when you’re ready to sell your home.
Is Selling a House With Mold Legal?
Selling a house that contains mold is legal. Lying about the presence of mold during the sale is not.
Specific laws on this topic vary from state to state. Universally, however, homeowners are required to disclose any “material defects” in a home when selling. The presence of mold usually qualifies as a material defect and thus must be disclosed.
Disclosure is further important because:
- Some types of mortgages and loan insurance do not cover homes with mold
- Inspectors may discover undisclosed mold and bring the sale process screeching to a halt
- If your attempt to sell the home without disclosing mold is discovered, realtors and buyers may distrust you and refuse to work with you
- If the buyers find undisclosed mold after the sale has gone through, they can potentially sue you for the cost of remediation
Importantly, you should disclose any incidence of mold in your home at the time of sale even if you have already remediated the problem. In some states, this is required. In all states, it provides you with legal protection should the buyers have future problems with mold in the home.
Do the Details Matter?
Many homeowners wonder if the type or location of the mold makes a difference. For the most part, the answer is “no.”
Stachybotrys or black molds present more of a threat to human health than other types of mold. But other molds can attack wood and other structural features within the home, causing it to become dangerous in different ways. All molds present a health risk to individuals who are allergic or sensitive to them.
In this respect, it is important to be upfront about the type of mold so that buyers can make informed decisions. But one type of mold is not more of a problem than another, legally.
Similarly, the location of the mold matters in terms of its effect on remediation costs. Having mold in isolated locations like crawlspaces and attics is not materially better than having it somewhere such as a bathroom, however.
Options for How to Sell Your House When It Has Mold
“Okay,” you may be thinking. “My home has mold. How do I sell it?”
If you find yourself in this position, you have two options:
- Remediate the mold and sell your home for top dollar
- Sell your home “as-is” and let the buyer deal with the mold
Each option has its benefits and its drawbacks.
Mold remediation is the process of removing mold from your home and remedying the conditions that led to mold growth in the first place.
EPA guidelines suggest that homeowners can attempt remediation themselves if they have less than 10 square feet of mold in their homes. Homeowners remediating mold themselves must wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
They must also use cleaners and cleaning methods proven to remove and kill mold. Using other products or methods can cause mold to spread rather than getting rid of it.
You will need to hire professional remediation services if the mold in your home:
- Covers more than 10 square feet
- Has entered your HVAC system
- Is outside your ability to safely and effectively remove
Professional remediation services can be expensive. They are also your best choice if you want to sell your home for market value.
Using a professional service allows you to prove to buyers that the work was done up to code. It also creates a protective buffer for you. Should the buyers have future mold problems, the remediator will be on the hook instead of you.
How Much Does Remediation Cost?
The actual cost of remediation varies depending on:
- The type of mold you have
- The extent to which mold has spread
- Your geographic location
In mild cases, mold remediation can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. Large-scale contamination, such as after a flood or when mold has infected HVAC ducts, can cost upwards of $10,000.
Costs tend to be higher in densely-populated areas with high costs of living, as well.
Selling a House With Mold “As-Is”
Selling a house “as-is” means that you fully disclose the state of the home to the buyer and they choose to purchase it the way it is. These sales can be ideal for homeowners who need or want to sell their homes without the hassle and cost of remediation.
Houses sold this way, however, often sell for discounted prices as the buyer will need to pay for remediation post-sale. Often, sellers exploring how to sell a house “as-is” find that the easiest way is to sell it to a cash house buyer rather than a private buyer.
Since these companies expect to flip a home anyway and do not need to live in it during remediation, they can be far more willing to take on homes that need some work.
It is important to be aware that selling a home “as-is” does not absolve sellers of the need to fully disclose their mold situation. Material facts must still be disclosed and the property will still be inspected.
How to Decide
So your home has mold and you aren’t sure whether to remediate or sell “as-is.” How do you decide?
The first step is to get a handle on the scope of the problem. Contact a mold inspector and have them assess your home. Their report will tell you:
- How much mold you have
- Where it is
- What the causes are (if possible)
- What remediation is needed
- A cost estimate
The report can also serve as part of your disclosure documentation for your future home sale.
If the problem is small, it may be financially in your best interest to invest in the cleanup and repairs. That will allow you to sell your home for its full market value.
If the problem is larger, or if you cannot or do not want to address it yourself, you can sell “as-is.” The mold inspector’s report will give you a clear idea of how much it will cost to remediate the mold. That will tell you about how much below market value you should expect to receive for your home at the time of sale.
Do not use at-home mold test kits instead of getting an inspection. They are less reliable and cannot provide the details you need to make the best decision.
Selling a house with mold can feel overwhelming, but it is not something you need to tackle alone. In addition to mold remediation specialists, there are several other parties who may be able to assist you.
Your Insurance Company
Depending on the source of the mold, your homeowner’s insurance may cover some or all of the costs of remediation. Review your policy carefully and speak to a representative if you have questions.
A Local Real Estate Expert
A person who is an expert in real estate can help you understand your local market. They can advise you on:
- Buyer priorities
- Your competition
- Market pricing trends
These factors all play a role in whether you will come out ahead by remediating or selling “as-is.” Having this information can help you make the best decision for your home.
A real estate expert can also help you disclose your mold issues in the most positive light possible. Done well, this can attract buyers rather than scare them away.
Regardless of what you choose to do, home stagers can help you present your home in ways that highlight its best features. This can emphasize how well remediation work was done, or redirect buyers’ focus to other desirable features that might balance out the inconvenience of buying a property in need of remediation.
Mold Doesn’t Have to Kill Your Sale
Selling a house with mold is something that homeowners across the country do successfully every day. If your home has mold, don’t let it kill your sale. If you’re concerned about selling your house quickly, get in touch. We buy homes as-is and can close within a matter of days so you won’t have to worry about mold issues any longer.