Selling a House With Mould and Fungi
Damp in your house can reduce your sale price
It’s hard and stressful enough selling a house. When you also have something in that house that can cause problems for future buyers, it becomes even more difficult. Mould and Fungi are two of the biggest deal breakers a homeowner can face when they're trying to sell a property.
Identifying mould and fungi
The problem with this is that there are literally hundreds of different types. All of them, if left untreated and unchecked, can cause serious health problems for the people living in a property. And if you’re trying to sell that property, it can prevent a sale from taking place.
Alternaria, for example, is a very common mould that forms in properties. It generally grows outdoors, but can be found indoors where it can cause huge problems. The mould is particularly dangerous for sufferers of asthma.
Fusarium is another type of mould. This grows in cooler temperatures and can be incredibly difficult to get rid of. This type can cause considerable difficulty for people who are exposed to it, including allergies, and respiratory problems.
So, while mould and fungi are quite easy to spot, they can be very different to each other. This is why, if you're planning to sell a house with mould or fungi, it's always a good idea to bring in a professional who knows the different types. They'll be able to identify what it is you’re dealing with, and advise accordingly. The good thing about having someone in to inspect the problem means that you can gain a quick understanding of what needs to be done and how long it will take.
Whichever way you look at it, mould and fungi just looks bad. Damp in a house manifests as spots of dark and light colour, with similarly coloured patches surrounding these spots. If you want to be absolutely sure that the mess on your wall or ceiling is actually mould or fungi, then you need to bring in an expert.
Because mould and fungi are synonymous with damp, there are some easy ways to identify the presence of such a problem. Take a look around your property, and if any of the following are present, you will have to prepare yourself for some hard work:
- Stains or residue on the walls
- Rusty nails or screws around the property
- A damp, musty smell
- A ‘tidemark’ on the wall, which signifies rising damp
- Paint cracking and general deterioration
Why and how it spreads
There are always anomalies in homes, and mould does spread in different ways sometimes. However, some theories on how mould and fungi become that huge problem just make perfect sense.
Essentially, moisture in the home is the key reason for mould developing and then spreading, so one of the very things you can do is reduce the amount of moisture in the property. It’s through having excess moisture that the problem gets worse. The moisture is a problem, and it is made even worse when you realise that such moisture comes from a variety of different places. Having this knowledge is vital. If you know where mould makes it’s home, you know what to clean up.
One of the most common ways in which mould enters a home is through roof leaks. This is particularly prevalent after a spate of bad weather. Sometimes the speed and density of rainwater can even make it happen on an otherwise sunny day. If you’ve got a damp basement or area that is off the main area of the house you will most likely see mould here too.
An interesting and shocking area for consideration is clothing that is dried indoors. Whether this is via a drying machine, or just on an airer, this can create damp in the air.
Effects on Health
This is a big area for consideration. If left unchecked, mould and fungi can lead to serious health problems for certain vulnerable groups. It is for this reason that two things happen when the problem is discovered. The first of these is the need to get rid of the problem. The second is the need to ensure that the problem does not ever come back.
There are a few groups of vulnerable people that mould and fungi can have a detrimental effect upon:
- Babies or very young children
- Anyone with an existing skin problem, such as eczema
- Anyone who is suffering from a weakened immune system, due to a serious illness for example
- People with existing allergies that affect breathing, such as asthma
- Elderly people, who are particularly weak
The health issues start because of the unique nature of mould and fungi. Mould can actually produce allergens. These produce an allergic reaction in anyone who is sensitive to them. Hence the problem that Asthma sufferers have.
If someone touches mould or fungi then it can quite easily lead to a swift and comprehensive allergic reaction. However, even being in the room and breathing in the spores that these two problems generate can lead to a strong reaction.
Allergic reactions are not always catastrophic, but they can be highly annoying, and can lead to sufferers feeling weaker. Some of the milder reactions are sneezing, a runny nose and sometimes even a skin rash.
In extreme cases, where the person is especially vulnerable, a strong asthma attack can be the result of simply inhaling the spores that mould and fungi release into the atmosphere.
It's a serious problem, and can lead to other long-term health conditions. A recent report by Shelter highlighted the impact on children’s lives.
Will it affect my house sale?
Mould or fungi are simply not good news. If you consider that they can take a lot of money to get rid of in a property, it is obvious that selling a property with these problems will be an incredibly challenging task.
Also, to make matters worse, lenders will most likely not lend you money through a mortgage or other loan on the property if the problem is there. It literally reduces the value of a property and means that you have to factor the cost of dealing with it into your moving plans.
The act of getting rid of the fungi or mould is just the first step really. You'll need to have some kind of external verification that the job has been done properly and verified that this is the case. Basically, if you want to sell and move, mould and fungi has to be identified, removed, and then certified as being gone.
If you're looking to sell a property quickly on the market, by all means get it listed. However, you must expect prospective buyers to find the situation very worrying. They'll most likely bargain a lower price if they know there is a problem.
This doesn’t sound too bad at face value, but buyers can pay the price they feel is right, and their offer with mould and fungi could well be significantly lower than what you expected.
How to get rid of damp
There is one simple solution, and that's to find a contractor who is able to treat the problem. This is notoriously expensive (ranging from £50-250 for one room and £800-1000 for a full house), and it's for this reason that many homeowners looking to sell choose to ignore the problem. They may paint over it, for example, or cover it with something else.
The problem is, this doesn’t work anymore. Buyers can commission a building survey that will inform them of the problem. This could easily affect the sale, and even your relationship with an estate agent.
In fact, the following process is now very common if damp is an issue:
- Buyer makes an offer on the house
- Their surveyor values the house and carries out an inspection for structural issues
- The surveyor identifies that there is damp in the property and then reports this to the mortgage lender for the buyer
- The lender will only make an offer ‘in principle’ and will continue if the problem is fixed
- You get the damp treated and fixed
- The surveyor will return and approve that the property is structurally sound
- The lender will release the funds to your buyer and the sale can complete
To get rid of it, the professional approach is usually the best. However, if money is not available, it's worth looking around the property to find the source of damp. If it's a leak, this may be something you can fix yourself. If the damp has been a problem for some time, then work on making sure the ventilation in the house is adequate, effectively reducing moisture.
Sometimes, the solution professionals in the field will recommend using chemicals to get rid of the problem. It's a good idea to try and ensure that ventilation isn’t the problem, or that there isn't a hole or gap that can be fixed, before you allow chemical spraying.
If you want to sell your home quickly then it is a very good idea to get rid of damp. Not doing so can lead to delays, because it's highly likely that a surveyor will be commissioned, and that they'll find damp.
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