Buying or Selling a Home in Florida? What to Know About Mold

Mold can be a nightmare for homeowners. Even the cleanest, most well-kept homes can have mold. It’s important to remember that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Mold can hide in the walls, under the floor, and even in the ceiling. Mold not only causes damage to the structure of your home and assets, but it can also pose a great health risk, especially for people with chronic health issues such as asthma and allergies.

If you’re getting ready to buy or sell a home in Florida and are concerned about mold, we’re here to answer some of the commonly asked questions about mold and what to expect during the closing process.

What Does Mold Need to Grow?

Mold is a type of fungus that only needs a few things to grow and multiply. Any environment that provides nutrients, moisture, and a sustainable place to grow is at risk for mold. Various building materials, including wood or sheetrock, give mold a place to grow. The dust that has settled onto those materials is enough of a food source for mold to be able to multiply and cause an infestation in any home. Mold specifically thrives in areas where there’s moisture or high humidity. Because of Florida’s high humidity levels, homeowners should be particularly aware of mold and taking action to prevent mold growth in their homes.

How to Prevent Mold Growth

Controlling moisture in the home is key to stopping mold from spreading indoors. Aside from humidity, moisture can come from a variety of different sources. Flooding from outside due to natural causes such as a storm or overflowing lakes, flooding from the indoors due to a toilet overflow or burst pipe, water leaks from the roof, poor ventilation, and other factors can all cause moisture to build up in the home. In the cases of flooding or sudden bursts of water, it’s crucial to take action immediately to restore the area and prevent mold growth. Mold can take hold and start growing in just 24 hours. For other, more gradual occurrences of moisture, such as poor ventilation, you’ll want to try using a dehumidifier to control moisture levels. Keeping humidity below 60% is key.

How to Determine if There’s Mold in Your Home

In most cases, mold growth will be visible or give off an odor that’s a clear indication of a mold problem. The first step is to look at vulnerable areas, such as the basement, attic, kitchen, and bathroom. Look for visible growth on the ceilings, walls, furniture, or anything made from wood. Mold usually appears as a staining or fuzzy growth and can be white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or green. You’ll also want to look for signs of water damage, such as condensation, water stains, or leaks, as this can be a clear indication that mold may be present. You’ll also want to be aware of any musty odors, which can also be a sign of mold.

Should You Buy a House With Mold

If you’re in the buying process and determine that mold was found in the house, this may throw a wrench into your plan. Depending on the size of the infestation, mold can be expensive to remove. However, it’s certainly worth taking care of, as mold can pose a major health issue for babies, the elderly, or persons with chronic health conditions. This is something you’ll want to discuss with the inspector, and determine if you have a specific mold contingency. Oftentimes, you can ask the seller to reduce the asking price, hold them responsible for fixing the problem, or ultimately, you can choose to walk away from the deal.

In Florida, the standard contracts do not require the seller to clean up the mold. If during the inspection period, the buyer wished to terminate the contract due to mold being found, they can do so under their sole discretion. For this reason, a Mold Inspection Addendum (known as form CRSP-16) can be signed by both parties. This says that the buyer has a certain inspection window to test for mold, at the buyers’ expense. If a significant amount of mold is found, typically defined by a dollar value agreed upon by buyer and seller, the buyer can cancel the sale at any time under their sole discretion with no penalty to them.