News Release Date: January 31, 2005
Ten Tips To Avoid Mold Problems and
Lawsuits in Selling and Buying Real Estate
LONDON, ENGLAND. Mold Inspector Laboratory International, Ltd. recommends that real estate sellers, buyers, and real estate agents/brokers, in the UK, USA, Canada, and worldwide, follow ten steps to avoid mold problems and lawsuits in the selling and buying of real estate properties.
- A property owner should not even offer the property for sale, or list it for sale with a RealtorĘ or other real estate agent/broker, until after a thorough mold inspection and mold testing of the home, rental property, or commercial property. Hire a Certified Mold Inspector (USA and Canada), or use a do-it-yourself mold inspection checklist and mold test kits.
- If the owner discovers visible or hidden mold problems, he should do safe and effective mold removal and remediation prior to offering the property for sale. Hire a Certified Mold Remediator (USA and Canada), or follow the recommended steps for safe and effective do-it-yourself mold remediation. Re-inspect and re-test the building after remediation.
- The owner should avoid hiding or camouflaging mold problems by deceptions such as painting over mold growth; concealing mold growth behind stored items, furniture, furnishings, and decorations; and masking the distinctive smell of mold growth with air fresheners and deodorizers. The smell of mold is from the digestive gases of the mold eating the building materials.
- The real estate sales contract should include an environmental inspection clause that grants at least a 14 to 21 day inspection period. The buyer should hire an independent inspector such as a Certified Mold Inspector, Certified Environmental Hygienist, industrial hygienist, and/or home inspector with mold expertise to inspect and test thoroughly the property for mold and other environmental dangers.
- The mold inspector or the buyer himself should do an all-around physical examination of the building for both visible and hidden signs of water damage and mold growth. In addition, the inspector or the buyer should mold test the air and visible mold growths in all rooms, the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, plus the outward airflow from each heating/cooling duct register.
- Mold testing requires mold laboratory analysis and mold species identification of the collected mold and air samples. In building locations with previous floods or leaks, the examination should also include fiber optics inspection to look inside water-penetrated surfaces for hidden mold infestations.
- The seller should disclose in writing to all prospective buyers any previous or present building water and mold problems, and what the owner has done, if anything, to correct such problems. These water damage and mold disclosures should be attached to the real estate sales contract so that the buyer acknowledges receipt thereof.
- If the property for sale is a USA residential property (home, condominium, co-op apartment), the seller should order ahead of time and provide to all prospective buyers the insurance industry's C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) Property Report that provides a five-year insurance loss history for a given address.
Every U.S.A. homeowner insurance claim inquiry or loss report by a homeowner (even including those that do not result in any loss payment) goes into the C.L.U.E. database. In some states (including California) it is becoming standard for sellers to provide Realtors® with a copy of the C.L.U.E. report up front so that there are no unpleasant surprises at closing or afterwards.
- In consideration of the seller's accurate and complete mold disclosure, and the buyer's full and unrestricted opportunity to inspect and test the property thoroughly and carefully, the sales contract may include a seller's requirement that the real estate property is being sold "as is" with no implied or express warranties as to the physical, mold, and environmental condition of the property.
- Similarly, the sales contract may also include a seller-requested clause that releases the seller, lender, and real estate agent/broker from all mold liability to the buyer. This release of liability should be contingent on the accuracy and completeness of the provided details in the seller's written mold disclosure and on the buyer's full and unrestricted right to do mold inspection and mold testing prior to completing the property purchase.
For more mold inspection, testing, and remediation information, please visit:
Posted with permission of the author Phillip Fry.
Due to the complexities of law and medicine, Dr. Schaller can neither support nor oppose the ideas mentioned above. They are merely offered for individuals to reflect on to form their own positions after consultation with their attorney and real estate agent.