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Is it OK to buy a home that has mold in it?

buying-a-home-with-mold

After searching forever for that perfect Chicagoland home, you finally find the one of your dreams. But just before signing on the dotted line you discover one tiny issue — the home has mold in it. And thus, you ask yourself: is it OK to buy a home that has mold in it? 

The short answer is, it depends. Buying a home with mold might not be a bad idea if you’re willing to temper your expectations; but buying a home that has mold in it could be a terrible idea if you were hoping not to put any work into your new dwelling. Since mold is a type of fungus, it covers a wide variety (thousands, to be exact!) of species. In homes with mold, most of those species could possibly be represented — from the kind of mold that grows on bread and fruit to the kind that inhabits humid spaces. It’s the wide variety that makes buying a home with mold in it an ambiguous task — some types of mold are more toxic than others, and constant exposure to large quantities of mold may cause health problems such as breathing difficulties, coughing and worsening asthma. Brief exposure to nontoxic mold is unlikely to cause serious problems, but either way, you’ll need to get the mold removed from the home as soon as possible to be safe.

Before buying a home with mold, you should be sure to have it professionally inspected to identify the types and causes of the mold.  Insist that the inspection contains a contingency clause (which defines a condition or action that must be met for a real estate contract to become binding). Never take a seller’s or real estate agent’s word about the presence of mold. Even if you’re getting a steep discount, be sure to get an inspection, because the cost of removing mold from a house can put a large dent in your savings. If mold is exposed during the inspection, you have a bargaining chip. 

Finding out more information about the nature of the mold gives you a leg up in negotiations about the home. As you’re buying a home with mold, be sure to either:

  1. ask the seller to reduce the asking price
  2. ask the seller to fix the problem
  3. walk away from the deal

Sellers are required under Illinois state real estate disclosure rules to disclose if there’s an ongoing mold problem in the house or if it’s been previously flooded, but they don’t always do so. If they do not, the owner may be liable to you for failure to disclose. Buying a home that has mold in it could actually be an OK move if you’re willing to pay removal costs given that they do not outweigh the savings you generate using mold as a bargaining chip. (See this Nolo article for useful advice on determining who’s legally responsible for home defects and how to file a suit.)

If you do buy a house with mold and decide to tackle the cleanup yourself, here are a couple of sites the include advice on mold removal:

But the Illinois Department of Public Health points out that even dead mold can cause allergies, so simply killing the mold with bleach or other substances isn’t enough. The mold must be completely removed, and for that, specialized equipment is needed. So, unless you have considerable experience in cleaning mold, you would be better off contacting ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons. We specialize in mold removal — give us a call if you’re planning to buy a home that has mold in it!

There’s no right answer for whether it’s OK to buy a home with mold in the Chicagoland area. Your primary concerns should be your budget, your health and how soon you need to move in. For example, if you suffer from allergies and there’s a lot of mold in a home, it’s ill-advised to buy it if you need to move in right away. On the other hand, if you’ve got the time and money to get rid of the mold, purchasing a home with fungus growth in it could save you money, especially if your home is appraised lower because of the mold.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2018 Chicago Business Journal Influential Women in Business Honoree, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She serves on the board for the Civic Federation, is the Government Liaison to the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, and the serves on Advisory Board for Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.