As a real estate agent, it's important to protect your clients and keep them "in the know." While there are many boxes to tick when buying or selling a home, two important factors are mold and pollen levels. Both can impact the sale to varying degrees and should be on your radar. Read on to learn more about mold and pollen, how they impact real estate, the damage they can cause, and how to protect your clients from them.
Will Mold Stop a Real Estate Transaction?
Nobody wants mold in their home, so if a mold issue comes to light, it can wreak havoc on a real estate deal — especially if it comes up late in the purchase. Not only is it unsightly, but it can present a danger to those living in the household. About one in five asthma cases in the U.S. are attributed to mold and dampness exposure, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Mold is a serious problem in the home buying/selling experience for both the buyer and seller," said Tal Shelef, Realtor and Co-Founder of CondoWizard. "It can result in price drops, bailing out of buying, and lawsuits if not addressed properly. As some types of mold can physically harm people, most buyers opt to not buy a home with mold."
Many states require that sellers disclose the presence of mold in a home. However, even when disclosure is not required, it's wise for sellers to check for the presence of mold and fix any issues before listing their property on the market. If mold is discovered during the sale, it can ruin the deal or extend the property's time on the market as the issue is resolved. Further, it can cause a drop in the home's value and disruptions as some lenders won't finance a home with severe mold issues. Worst case scenario, if the mold is discovered after the sale, it may lead to a lawsuit due to misrepresentation of the property.
While the cost to remove mold isn't cheap, averaging $2,500 for mold remediation on 200 square feet of walls and floor in a 1,000 square foot basement, it is often less than a buyer will pay in a lawsuit. However, whether a seller treats the mold problem or not, they will likely need to lower the selling price to account for the mold issue.
It can help to hire a mold remediation company that offers a warranty on their work that can be transferred to the buyer.
How Can Pollen Damage Homes and Impact Real Estate Deals?
Pollen is a major allergen that causes seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) leading to runny nose, sneezing, nasal itch and congestion, itchy skin, and cough (especially for those with asthma). It's a big problem, as allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
"High exposure to pollen can directly cause asthma symptoms, severe allergic reactions, and several medical conditions which leads to many homebuyers being extra careful with this factor," explains Shelef.
As a real estate agent, it's important to understand the levels of common indoor allergens present in a home. You can find out using allergen test kits that detect and identify common indoor allergens, including pollen, dust mites, and more.
Pollen can also cause physical damage to homes. When acidic types of pollen sit on a surface for an extended time and mix with moisture, they can start to oxidize and eat away at surfaces (like roofs). Additionally, dry pollen can accumulate in places like rain gutters, causing clogs.
"Pollen often stains surfaces," said Michael Kelczewski, Realtor and Broker with Kurfiss Sotheby's International Realty. "I have suggested pressure washing exteriors or hiring cleaners to wipe walls to remove it."
Worst Regions and Seasons for Mold and Pollen
Where and when are mold and pollen the worst?
Pollen becomes a problem as early as January and can last through July, due primarily to tree pollen. Then in the fall, ragweed pollen begins to spread along with other plants like sagebrush, tumbleweed, and burning bush.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the U.S. cities that are the worst places to live with allergiesare:
New Haven, CT
Oklahoma City, OK
The AAFA ranked 100 metropolitan areas based on seasonal pollen scores, over-the-counter allergy medication use, and the number of allergy specialists in the city. When looking a the results, there is a concentration of "worse than average" and "average" ratings from the central U.S. to the East Coast.
Mold is the result of a water problem. Being the case, when you think of the places most prone to mold, you may first think of those known for humidity (like Florida or other areas on the coast). However, some of the drier states have made it onto lists for the top states most prone to mold damage and contamination. The worst cities for mold, according to Quest Diagnostics research, are:
Riverside-San Bernardino, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Aside from climate, building practices and materials play a key factor in a home's vulnerability to mold. For example, if homes have poor ventilation, condensation will get trapped which leads to mold. As a result, mold can be a problem no matter where you live and it's important to get a proper inspection as part of the homebuying process.
Protect Your Real Estate Transactions with Mold and Pollen Awareness
As a real estate agent, you want each transaction to go as smoothly as possible. Part of that requires understanding a property's condition inside and out. By taking steps to understand how pollen and mold are impacting a home, you can protect both the buyer and seller while establishing trust with your clients.
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