Many of us would laugh at the idea of mold entering into a real estate transaction. I mean, who ever heard of a home not selling because of mold or a “mold contingency”?

A few years ago, no one ever heard of such a thing. But today, mold gets more media attention, and homes on the market need to have a mold inspection. Here’s why.

Legal disclosures

Mold litigation is on the rise. More and more attorneys are handling cases relating to mold exposure. In these cases some pretty hefty judgments and settlements have been awarded.

Real estate agents need to inform their sellers that, legally, they need to disclose any mold problems. This is especially true if that homeowner knows there’s a mold problem that may not be apparent from a basic home inspection.

Although mold exists everywhere, it prefers dark, moist places, such as inside your wall cavities. A roof that has slowly leaked for a long time creates moisture and encourages mold growth.

By the time you see mold growing on the outside of the wall, it’s usually pretty thick on the inside. Combine an elevated mold condition with a particularly sensitive person, and you may have a lawsuit.

Mold-related health effects

Mold has a necessary place in our environment. Without it we’d be overrun with debris, such as fallen leaves.

However, there are times when mold can be a problem for us. This includes when mold invades our indoor environment, including homes, schools, or workplaces. When mold enters these environments we can suffer from adverse physical symptoms ranging from respiratory problems (sneezing, runny nose, or asthma) to headaches and memory loss.

The media likes to blame “toxic mold,” also known as “black mold,” for mold-related illnesses. Stachybotrys chartarum is the mold claimed to be the “killer mold,” but this particular mold, although possessing many mycotoxins (a chemical released by the mold that has the potential to cause illness in humans and/or animals), is no more toxic than, let’s say, Aspergillus niger or Trichophyton rubrum, which can also be found in homes.

According to research, approximately 10 percent of the population is allergic to mold. Children younger than age 5, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, such as chemotherapy patients, can be severely and even fatally affected by exposure to mold. Susceptibility varies with the quantity of mold present and length of exposure.

About this Experts Contributor: JoAnne Greenstone is a licensed and insured Certified Mold Assessor in the state of Florida. She works for On-Site Mold Analysis in Plantation, Florida, which provides mold inspection services in Miami and surrounding areas. You can follow this service provider on Facebook.

As of Dec. 13, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie’s List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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