In the real estate market, mold is one of those terms that evokes an emotional reaction.
While it is a serious home condition to alleviate, there are many misconceptions. Understanding the mold found in our area, as well as ways to mitigate it, allows homeowners and potential homebuyers to minimize the fear and consequences of mold.
In the Four Corners, we do not often see the types of mold that cause serious health conditions. It is possible that a person with a compromised immune system or past reaction to mold will react to the types of mold we have. However, the mold we experience in real estate is less of a health concern, but a significant real estate issue.
Mold is most commonly found in attics and crawl spaces, said to Joe Bowden of CDS Environmental Services LLC, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry.
It is also found in damp areas behind washers, furniture on north walls and under enclosed sinks, along with rugs, plants, indoor wood fireplaces and bathrooms with showers. Moisture is the key growth component for mold to thrive. If a home has a water leak or moist areas, that is where the mold will grow.
In wood, mold growth occurs with as low as 15 percent moisture, and the higher the percentage, the more likely mold will grow. In order to remove it, the moisture problem must be alleviated. The mold will grow back if the moisture is not removed or minimized. Here are some ways to remedy a mold problem in a home:
Repair any structural damage to damaged wood, drywall and stucco. Typically, in the areas around the mold growth, the insulation must be removed and replaced.
Remove water and moisture with sump pumps and use a vapor barrier over the bare ground.
Provide adequate ventilation, and if necessary, use a humidistat and dehumidifiers to keep wood moisture below 15 percent.
To keep small areas of mold from returning, scrub using a natural fungicide such as vinegar or borax. Larger areas of mold should be mitigated by a professional.
In real estate transactions, sometimes the topic of mold will impact lenders, and it is often a concern for resale of the home.
In order to calm concerns about mold, homeowners should have a professional prepare a letter of completion and certification with photographic documentation after the mold has been mitigated. Of course, when property damage occurs because of mold in wood, it is important to repair the damaged property.
While mold types and levels of growth vary, it is usually a correctable issue and does not need to stop the sale or purchase of a home.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a short guide to mold and cleanup at www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html and professional services such as CDS Environmental Services can provide guidance when handling mold in homes.
Don Ricedorff is a Realtor at The Wells Group in Durango, and a past president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.