Mold is a hot-button topic in real estate sales. Today’s tightly-sealed, more efficient buildings provide an ideal environment for its growth, and as public awareness of the issue grows alongside multi-million-dollar mold settlements, it pays to stay on-point when it comes to evolving mold legalities.
You Aren’t Required to be a Mold Expert – But You Can’t Stick Your Head in the Sand
While it’s not up to you to detect and diagnose mold issues, you must be knowledgeable and aware of the basic signs of mold to protect your clients (and your reputation). Red flags include:
– Musty, mildewy odors.
– Stained walls, ceilings, and baseboards, from common to multi-colored varieties.
– Plumbing leaks and drainage problems.
What to Do if You Suspect Mold & Why You May be a Target
Unfortunately, for most states there are no standard practices in effect – though that is rapidly changing. California recently enacted the country’s first mold legislation, listing standards for acceptable indoor levels and requirements for home seller disclosure.
In the wake of recent lawsuits and legislation, home inspectors and pest control operations are rapidly adjusting disclaimer legalese to limit their liability, with homeowners insurance companies commonly limiting compensation. Thus agents should be prepared for the possibility of agent liability with buyer clients in real estate sales involving mold issues.
Tips to Reduce Liability and Protect the Health of Your Real Estate Career:
1. Be diligent about checking for red flags, including odors and visual cues.
2. If you notice mold, carefully word disclosures, avoiding ‘black mold’ and ‘toxic mold’ verbiage. You’re not offering expert analysis. Be generic: Note ‘mold-type’ or ‘mildew-like’ staining/odors and their location(s).
3. Refer clients to ‘contact a qualified specialist for review,’ insisting potential buyers have their own, independent home inspection conducted.
4. Get to know mold experts in your area. Provide a list, but do not recommend particular vendors.
Real estate sales problems growing like mold? PropertiesOnline can help.