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Is mold really something I need to worry about when buying a home?

Recognizing black mold before you buy

Not all buyers are aware of the dangers and expense of household mold. Unfortunately, mold spores are difficult to detect and some are hidden behind walls and beneath floors, undetected by the naked eye until it’s too late. An important step in your house hunting journey is to learn how to recognize mold growth and the consequences that go along with buying a home with potential mold problems. It’s essential to not only learn what mold is and what it looks like, but also learn about seller disclosure in relation to mold issues.

Why Mold Is a Problem

Mold is difficult to see until it reaches its advanced stages of growth and begins to destroy the structure of a home. It’s odorless, so it’s not really something you can detect by smell. Now, some mold does have an odor, but not all forms of it do. It can grow virtually anywhere there is moisture such as walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, attics, cabinets, and basements.

Where Mold Grows

You can find mold in these common locations of a home:

  • Windows
  • Roof
  • Flooring
  • Ceiling
  • Siding
  • Inside the walls
  • Sunroom areas with plants
  • Near pipes
  • Poorly ventilated rooms

Mold as a Health Hazard

Not only is mold dangerous to the structure of your home, but most importantly it’s hazardous to your health. In fact, mold can produce mycotoxins which cause severe respiratory illness as well as seizures and even brain damage. 

Finding Mold in a Home

Buying a home can be a complex and intense process involving many steps and legalities. The best step you can take is to make sure that a home inspection is performed on the home you are planning to buy. You’ll want the inspector to look for signs of mold or even the potential for mold growth. You, too, can look for these signs on your walk-through of the home. You’ll want to look for watermarks on the walls, cracking on the walls/ceiling, peeling plaster, peeling wallpaper, standing water in the basement, darkness around plumbing, stains, painted-over stains, and musty odors.

If the home you’re planning to buy is new construction, ask if it was built with synthetic stucco or Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS). Synthetic stucco offers an airtight barrier, but it can allow water to penetrate the home, causing mold to grow within the walls.

 Home Inspection

This is where a home inspector proves their worth. A professional home inspector will be able to spot obvious signs of water damage and mold and will be well-versed in building materials that are susceptible to mold growth like synthetic stucco.

When you do order a home inspection of the home, make sure to ask the inspector if they saw signs of mold or water damage. Ask the inspector to include any mold issues in the report. You may wonder why you’d have to ask an inspector to do this in the first place. Some home inspectors are leery to include potential mold growth findings in an inspection report for liability reasons. However, they shouldn’t have a problem with speaking with you about any areas they see as problems. 

Your real estate agent or real estate lawyer should ask the seller to disclose water damage or mold issues. They must disclose any problems that they know about or reasonably know about. In other words, they may not have the expertise to recognize hidden mold growth in the home. This is why it’s important to order a home inspection before you buy any home, and it’s wise to enlist the help of an experienced real estate professional to help you recognize potential problems with the home and the negotiation process.

Hiring a Home Inspector

It’s the buyer’s duty to hire a home inspector even if the seller already had a home inspection done previously. Sometimes a seller will have the house pre-inspected as a selling point before placing it on the market. However, it’s wise to hire your own home inspector to check the house before buying it. Remember, home inspectors are not federally regulated, but in North Carolina, home inspectors must be licensed.

When searching for a home inspector, check the local Better Business Bureau to ensure that the inspector does not have complaints on record. Also, it’s a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends as well as search local professional associations like the North Carolina chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. You could even ask the inspectors for references from prior clients as well as samples of previous reports so you’ll get a good idea of the extent of their inspections.

Home inspections range in price from $300 to $600 or more. You’ll most likely pay at the time of service rather than at closing.

A Property Management Company Can Help

As property managers, we have seen the good and bad of the real estate industry, so we know what can go wrong during the purchase of a home. Buying a home is most likely one of the largest investments of your life, so you don’t want to go into a purchase without the help of a seasoned real estate professional. We have a team of property managers who can guide you through any real estate transaction.

It’s a good idea to have a local real estate expert’s advice and knowledge of the market. Oak City Properties has decades of experience helping buyers and sellers find their next home.

Need Help?

At Oak City Properties, we approach each property from both a professional and personal perspective. Whether you are a first-time buyer or a seasoned investor, we manage your investment the same way we would manage our own. 

No matter your investment or buying goals, we want to help you succeed. Don’t hesitate to let Oak City Properties empower you by providing high-quality property management solutions. If you’re interested in learning more about how our team of real estate and investment professionals can help,  Contact Us or visit our website oakcityproperties.com.

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