Tips To Avoid Mold Problems and Lawsuits in Selling and Buying Real Estate
consultants Phillip and Divine Fry recommend
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 mold
lawsuits in the selling and buying of real estate properties.
1. A property owner should not even offer the property for sale, or list it
for sale with a Realtor® 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, Canada, Asia, and Europe), or
use a do-it-yourself
use do-it-yourself mold test kits available from
a large hardware, home improvement, or safety store.
2. 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, Canada,
Asia, and Europe), or follow the
recommended steps for safe and effective do-it-yourself
mold remediation and
Re-inspect and re-test the building after mold remediation is supposedly
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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
6. 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
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
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