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July 15th, 2011

Mold: The latest problem for foreclosed homes

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moldThe longer foreclosed homes remain on the market, the worse off we all are (simple as that). While homeowners struggle to stay afloat thanks to distressed real estate bringing down local home prices, potential buyers of these properties face different issues, seen and unseen.

As these foreclosures sit vacant, their landscaping becomes overgrown and they’re open to squatters and vandalism. However, another new problem is growing inside these homes: mold.

In some states, it’s estimated that more than half of foreclosed homes have mold and mildew issues. Realtors across the country say they’re seeing the problem in everything from bungalows to mansions.

Most of us have never considered how the simple transfer of air–the opening and closing of doors and windows, running the air conditioner and the heater–fights to prevent mold growth inside of occupied homes:

In most homes, as residents go in and out and the seasons change, natural ventilation sucks moisture up to the attic and out through the roof. It’s called the “stack effect.” And in many parts of the country, it’s driven by air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.

Furthermore, the lack of electricity means sump pumps aren’t running, and basements are backing up with water, spreading mold out across floors, up walls and over ceilings.

Repair costs can be extraordinary

According to the experts, even minor mold remediation can cost $5,000, and that’s just the beginning:

  • If the mold is confined to a surface area of no more than 10 square feet (about 3-feet-by-3-feet), the EPA suggests you can remove it yourself by scrubbing hard surfaces with detergent and water, then drying.
  • Removing mold from an average house crawlspace ranges from $500 -$4,000, according to Charter Oak Environmental of Connecticut. Overall, a typical mold remediation project to remove mold from the ducts, crawl spaces, walls and attic of a house runs around $2,000 -$6,000. And if the mold has caused widespread structural damage, repair costs can increase the total to as much as $10,000 -$30,000 or more.

In addition to the cost of removal, potential homebuyers face a number of known health risks.

Ask about mold

With all the distressed properties out on the market today, buyers need to be aware that rampant mold problems exist. While some realtors say they have drafted up disclosure forms for buyers to sign, it’s important that you still ask your realtor about the home’s mold issues, and that just doesn’t go for forecloses, but for all homes.

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3 Responses to “Mold: The latest problem for foreclosed homes”

  1. Public Health Alert | Fraudclosures and Sexually Transmitted Diseases | Foreclosure Fraud - Fighting Foreclosure Fraud by Sharing the Knowledge Says: August 12th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    [...] don’t want to talk about how many foreclosed homes in Connecticut may be infested with mold. By some estimates, half the foreclosed houses in the U.S. now have mold [...]

  2. Public Health Alert | Fraudclosures and Sexually Transmitted Diseases | Challenge Your Lender Says: August 19th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    [...] don’t want to talk about how many foreclosed homes in Connecticut may be infested with mold. By some estimates, half the foreclosed houses in the U.S. now have mold [...]

  3. A&A Mold and Allergy Inspections Says: November 15th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Excellent article. Often people are so excited to buy a foreclosed home for cheap and forget to have a mold inspection performed. This is true in Southern California and other areas where there’s a high inventory of foreclosed properties.

    With foreclosed homes, it becomes more important to have a mold inspection, not just mold removal, unless you know exactly where the source is. Sometimes the mold problem is hidden behind a wall or might even be starting when the home is purchased. That’s why the mold inspection is important — to find the source of the mold problem.

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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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