Massive Mold in Home - Deal breaker?

26 Replies

There is a house that I see a listing for that seems to have a massive amount of Mold and water damage in the finished basement which includes a bathroom. It looks as though the mold is from floor to ceiling. I have not taken a look at the house in person yet and I don't know what the root of this damage is. At this point I am only going off of the photos. The rest of the home "seems" to be unaffected although without an inspection I couldn't know for sure. The home is listed well below market. My questions before I go see it are:

•Is mold a deal breaker for anyone?
•What is the best way to find a trustworthy mold remediation company?
•Is it safe to assume that I (and my agent) will need some sort of hazmat suit or respirator while viewing the property?
•How expensive is a typical mold remediation service in general? I'm sure it greatly depends on the extent of the mold.
•I was once told that there is no true test for black mold. Is this true?
•if this seems like a great deal after carefully running the numbers, should I still proceed as a first flip?

Thanks in advance for your help.

I'm certainly not an expert on mold, but I would tell you that nothing should be considered an automatic "deal breaker" in my opinion. Everything can be fixed somehow. The only part that matters is if it can still be profitable. 

Find out what it'll take to fix the problem, if the numbers still work then proceed. Many of the questions you're asking can only be answered by a mold expert. Just hire one, even if it becomes a sunk cost I guarantee you'll learn a ton about mold that will benefit you greatly in the future. 

I feel the same way. I think the mold scares off a lot of people which can spell possibly a good opportunity for me. Thanks for the response @Alexander Felice .

We looked at several homes that had severe mold in basements, etc., and ultimately decided against them even with huge discounts as not only can it be expensive for mold remediation, but I believe you are then forever after required to disclose that there was mold in the house and that remediation was done, so a lifetime strike against the property, like a car with a history of damage from accidents or flood.  Also, unless you're 100% certain you know the exact cause and fixed it, it could turn out to be a recurring problem.  

Yes mold should not be a deal breaker. Due your due diligence. You may be able to drive the price down because of it

@Lynn M. I was not aware of this. So even if the mold has been completely removed and the home has been tested to show that it no long has mold, you would have to disclose this to the buyer? I wonder if that would affect the resale value of the home.

We were told that we should be prepared to disclose and show receipts for remediation and testing if we were to sell or rent property that we knew had mold or we would be open to future lawsuits from buyer or tenants.  We were told this both in NC and MD.

@Sean S. Never let mold be a deal breaker as long as they are willing to negotiate price on your finding, just make sure to do your due diligence, some of your best profits will be from problems that no one else wants.

Agree with all of the above. As long as you account for the cost it will take into correcting the mold problem, and let the seller know as to why you're coming in with what you offer due to the cost it will take to fix the mold, then it shouldn't be an issue. As with everything, due diligence is the key to success. 

Thanks for the info everyone. I'm going to take a look at the home with a specialist and begin crunching numbers.

Sean contact Greeners cleaners in Middletown, De . He is one of the best in the business when it comes to mold. Remediation is not cheap so make sure you get a long term warranty. You will have to disclose the mold problem when you sell in Delaware.

Mold in the basement is very bad because it suggest an ongoing problem.  This is very different  than mold above ground.  I have had my dealing it more than once.  I think you are doing the right thing about getting someone in to look at it.  Just make sure you are accounting for both the mold remediation as well as removing the source of moisture.  

One other tip.  Once your done with the remediation, run your dehumidifier at all times.  Once mode gets a foothold it can come back real quick.  This of course in not suppose to happen with proper remediation but it is better to be safe than sorry.

You can easily remove mold yourself. Some protective gear and some bleach with water and a good air purifier you'll be good. We had an unbelievable problem. I can show you pictures. It looked like it was an inch thick and hairy. I had never seen Black mold until then ( the stuff in the shower seems edible after that stuff) .

@Leroy Kerr Thanks for the referral. I will definitely see what this company has to offer.

Robert LaBrie I will take your warning into consideration. The last thing I want is to have the actual source of the mold become more expensive than I anticipated. I will be sure to do my due diligence.

@Bryan Williamson I've been told this in the past. I'd like to get a professional to do the work. What this tells me though is that the mold issue (if handled properly and purchased at the right price) is not the end of the world so to speak.

Sean are you looking at foreclosed property? If so a lot of time the power is turned off so the sump pump doesn't run and the basement floods resulting in mold. That maybe the source of your problem.

@Leroy Kerr Yes this is a foreclosure. You make a good point about the power being off. I can't wait to see it to find out. From the pictures, it looks as though there was some water damage nearly halfway up the wall.

By the way, would you happen to have a contact at greener cleaners? I was unable to find a company by that name in Middletown. I see a similar name of a dry cleaning company in Wilmington.

Dr. Shawn greener . Text him first with your info and tell him you are the investor I contacted him about. 

Originally posted by @Leroy Kerr :

Sean are you looking at foreclosed property? If so a lot of time the power is turned off so the sump pump doesn't run and the basement floods resulting in mold. That maybe the source of your problem.

So very true that electric will be off up north, that when it isn't off it makes you start to wonder why. So my favorite REO that had electric on was so that the sump pump could run. And boy did it run - constantly even though there had been no rainfall for a couple of weeks prior. I guessed it was a spring or well feeding water into that basement, but whatever it was I didn't want to be the one to have to figure it out :)

Thank you for the contact and thanks everyone for the info.

Additional question: How could you really estimate the ARV on a home with previous mold exposure? It seems to me that having mold in the history would lower the value and reduce the number of prospective buyers. I just fear that even with the proper test results showing the home has no more mold, any ARV based on a market analysis I come up with will be questionable because of the history.

contact local real estate agents , they should be able answer your questions. I'm sure they've come across the mold issue more than few times, especially with foreclosures. They should be able to give you comps. on houses in the same area with and without mold history.

If the issue has been fixed and everything else leading up to the cause has been repaired I don't feel as though you would need to adjust for the ARV. As long as you're forthcoming on your seller disclosures and can provide professional documentation for the remediation you should be fine.

Get an estimate from a national professional company.  It wont be cheap!

Submit a low offer for purchase with the high estimate for remediation

Then have a qualified local contractor only remove the debris and treat but not rebuild.

My sister in Alabama Had an Estimate from a much advertised company for $45,000 but it only cost $5000 to strip and essentially sterilize the basement.

@Lisa Kohl Thanks. I just need to make sure I buy as low as I possibly can or walk away from the deal.

@Richard Dunlop Great idea. You mentioned "not rebuild". Did you say that because you think I should have a separate contractor do the rebuild.

Originally posted by @Sean S. :

Lisa Kohl Thanks. I just need to make sure I buy as low as I possibly can or walk away from the deal.

Richard Dunlop Great idea. You mentioned "not rebuild". Did you say that because you think I should have a separate contractor do the rebuild.

Yes you can find 100 qualified to rebuild for every 1 qualified to remove the mold.

It makes the project much more understandable on your level and their level.

 YOU  "So its going to take you 3 days to remove and dispose of debris air out and what else are you doing for your $5000? 

CONTRACTOR  "Um ah Lots of Things um ah"

Make sure you're not paying your $2000 a day crew to do the $400 a day work. 

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here