During a home inspection, home inspectors may note signs of mold or water damage.
However, home inspectors don’t specifically look for mold, so it is a good idea to get a mold inspection before buying a house.
Some inspectors are certified to perform mold checks. You can ask them to do both inspections at the same time.
However, you may need to schedule a separate inspection to guarantee no mold is growing in places you can’t see, like in the attic or inside the air ducts.
A mold inspection and sample testing can cost between $300-$600, depending on the size of the house, location, and other factors. Whenever possible, hire a mold inspector with favorable past client reviews.
If you’re buying a house and are concerned about mold, here are some things to consider that will help you avoid costly repairs.
Difference Between Home Inspection and Mold Inspection
A mold inspector looks for potential sources of and active mold, rather than inspecting the home for other issues.
A professional home inspector may note signs of mold or water damage, but they’re supposed to inspect the home structure for any issues the homeowners should know about.
It’s not the home inspector’s job to look for mold. Instead, they distribute their time on-site across the floor, foundation, electrical wiring, appliances, and other areas.
The goal is to give the homebuyer a holistic view of the property’s condition before finalizing the purchase.
If a home inspector finds an issue, the buyer and the seller must either negotiate new terms or hire a contractor to fix the issue.
Should You Get a Mold Inspection When Buying a House?
The more work you do at the beginning of the house-buying process, the better outcome you will have. Getting a mold inspection before buying a house is always a sound idea.
However, whether you’ll be able to do it depends on several factors.
The state of the market impacts whether you’ll do a mold inspection.
Over the past two years, for example, many homebuyers have had to waive the home inspection entirely to win bids on a house, so it would be difficult for a seller to agree to a mold inspection.
When sellers have all the leverage, they can easily deny mold inspections. Now that prices are starting to level off, buyers may have more flexibility with their requests.
Mold inspections are less likely for lower-priced homes.
Buying expensive homes typically takes longer, so homeowners and investors are more accommodating. However, there is less tolerance for mold inspection requests for lower-priced homes.
Home Inspection Results
If you find mold or water damage during a home inspection, you’ll have a better chance of getting a mold inspection before you buy.
Homeowners want to know how much mold there is, due to liability concerns.
What Happens If Mold Is Found During a Home Inspection?
A good home inspector will look for mold in drywall, vents, basements, and other ceilings. They won’t do an air quality test or conduct a video inspection of the ventilation system, though.
Getting a professional mold inspection is the obvious next step. Whether you or the homeowner pays for the mold inspection will depend on the price and how serious the problem appears.
How Much Does Mold Devalue a Home?
Severe mold infestations can obliterate the value of a home. Rampant black mold can make a house unlivable.
Most homeowners don’t proactively offer mold inspections or may resist potential buyers’ requests for inspections, because the presence of mold can lower their asking price.
How much the mold affects the sale of the home or its value depends on the severity of the problem.
Mild mold outbreaks can be managed quite quickly. However, large mold issues in walls, basements, and vents are expensive to repair.
The effect on price is one of the reasons why most homeowners react quickly to resolve mold problems once discovered. However, even homes with recent mold problems only experience mild price drops, if any, once the problem is eliminated.
How Long Does It Take for Mold to Destroy a House?
Mold growth depends on the amount of moisture present, local weather conditions, and other factors.
For example, in a humid house with no running air conditioning or ventilation, mold can grow exponentially in just a few days. Whether the mold becomes a health hazard or structural issue hinges on how quickly treatment happens.
When to Walk Away from a House with Mold
In most cases, mold is a relatively minor issue. While you should definitely use inspection results to re-negotiate terms, it’s probably not a reason to walk away from a house you love.
However, you’ll be spending money on mold remediation before you move in, especially if it’s black mold, so you need to budget these added costs in.
You’ll have to pay for a mold remediation service and possibly a hotel stay during the work on the house. Those costs can be borne by the seller or split between both parties.
Severe mold infestations that are a health risk or a seller’s refusal to let you inspect for mold are reasons to look for a new home. You never know whether the mold is a cosmetic issue or a serious concern unless you request a professional mold inspection.
Here are some options:
Reduce Purchase Price
Ask for a lower price anytime you discover mold. Whether your counteroffer is accepted will depend on market conditions, but you should always ask.
Ask the seller to fix the mold before the deal closes. A typical home closing takes around a month.
A home seller can save money by dealing with the repairs themselves, but they may not want to and opt instead for a price cut. You should ask for a professional mold inspection to determine the extent of the damage.
Sellers will be more willing to work with you after the mold discovery, because they must disclose these issues to potential buyers.
Telling other potential buyers about the issue could scare them away. Sellers may want to keep things quiet and deal with the mold quickly, rather than re-list the house.
Finding mold doesn’t have to be a deal-killer. Most mold issues are minor, and a good remediation company can clear out mold in a couple of days or less.
Do the work to find out where the mold is and get it taken care of before you move in.