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What’s the Big Deal With Mold in Houses?

What’s the Big Deal With Mold in Houses?

Mold is ubiquitous in nature, making up approximately 25% of the earth’s biomass, and thrives in many outdoor environments.

Molds, yeasts and other certain related forms constitute the organisms (microbial agents) known as fungi.  We have all seen fungi growing on rotten fruit, bread and damp leather.  They may by green, black or white and may appear to be fuzzy or sooty. Fungi are plant-like & many consist of two parts – hyphae, which are fungal filaments that form the body – and spores, which are seed-like structures than can be used for reproduction.  Some spores contain mycotoxins and have been termed “toxic mold”.

 Fungi must subsist on organic matter such as wood or paper products.  In order for fungi to thrive, the following conditions are necessary: An ambient temperature range of 40-100 degrees F; a humid rich environment, generally greater than 60% humidity though usually greater than 70%.

Why is mold in real estate a potential concern?
I was once at a home inspection with noted indoor air investigator, Jeff May, and he gave me a copy of his book entitled “My House is Killing Me”. In it he says that mold causes four main types of illnesses in humans: allergies, irritation, infectious disease & toxic effects. Microbial agents may serve as irritants to the respiratory tract causing an increase in mucus flow and other types of symptoms.  These agents may cause infections in two manners: pathogenic infection – this can develop in a relatively healthy individual with a normally functioning immune system; and opportunistic infection – this can develop in an individual with a compromised immune system or those with or on chemotherapy, diabetics, asthma or antibiotics, HIV or AIDS, physical or mental conditions affecting the immune system.  Some factors responsible for the concerns are the ability of the agent becoming airborne in sufficient concentrations and the ability of the agent to be respired by the susceptible host.

Are there any buildings more vulnerable to mold growth?
Any dwelling with a history of current water infiltration problems as well as those structures with consistently high indoor humidity levels or those with poorly designed components such as inadequately vented attics and crawl spaces, as well as poorly designed or maintained HVAC systems.

How do I know if mold is present within a dwelling?
Mold growth should be suspected when surfaces are discolored i.e. “mildew” or if damp mildew odor is present which can represent mold by-products such as – microbial volatile organic compounds (or as I call it eau de mold). This is especially true on organic natural materials.

If mold growth is suspected what should be done?
A trained indoor environmentalist or mold remediation specialist should be consulted to determine the presence of mold, its cause and cure.

Are there any threshold limits in which mold is a concern?
Because all individuals have varying degrees of sensitivity to mold there are currently no threshold limit values.

What is toxic mold?
Toxic mold refers to certain mold species that have spores that contain mycotoxins such as stachybotrys, also called Black Mold.  Mycotoxins are opportunistic pathogens and may be a greater health concern for certain individuals.

If mold growth is confirmed within the indoor environment what should be done?
Depending on the amount and depth of the mold growth, the solutions may range from removing surface mold via HEPA vacuuming and washing.  To the extreme of removing and replacing all effected material, it is strongly suggested that only those with specific training and experience conduct any mold remediation work.

How can mold growth be prevented?
Mold requires several conditions to thrive.  An organic material (wood or paper), oxygen, appropriate ambient temperature, a high moisture content and/or a high ambient relative humidity of 60% or greater.  The most controllable factor of these conditions is the moisture content, which is usually controlled by removing moisture sources (water infiltration) and reducing and maintaining the indoor ambient humidity level to below 60%.

Need an expert?
Call me, I can recommend several.

How to Get Top Dollar in The Spring Market

How to Get Top Dollar in The Spring Market

Especially Helpful if you haven’t sold a house in a while

The best chance for selling your property is within the first seven weeks. Studies show that the longer a property stays on the market, the less the seller will net.

Below are some of the key things that you need to consider when pricing/marketing your home:

PRICING

It is very important to price your property at a competitive market value right when you list it. The market is so competitive that even over-pricing by a few thousand dollars could mean that your house will not sell. It’s interesting, but your first offer is usually your best offer. Here are reasons for pricing your property at the market value right from the start in order to net you the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time.

An overpriced home:

* Minimizes offers

* Lowers showings

* Lowers agent response

* Limits financing

* Limits qualified buyers

* Nets less for the seller

Common realtor stories hold that eighty percent of the marketing is done when we decide on what price to list your home. If you are unwilling to list at current market value, you would be better off not putting it on the market at this time.

CLEANLINESS

Most people are turned off by even the smallest amount of uncleanness or odor when buying a home. Sellers lose thousands of dollars because they do not adequately clean. If your house is squeaky clean, you will be able to sell your home faster and net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more. If you are planning on moving, why not get rid of that old junk now so that your house will appear larger? Make more space. Odors must be eliminated especially if you have dogs, cats, or young children in diapers or if you are a smoker. You may not notice the smell, but the buyers do! Most agents have a difficult time communicating to their sellers about odor. If you employ an agent to get the most amount of money for you, please don’t take offense if he must confront you about odor problems.

ACCESSIBILITY

The only way any agent can show a house is to have access to your front door key(s)!

I and other top buyers agents will not show your home if both the key(s) and access are not easily available. We do not have time to run around town all day picking up and dropping off keys or organizing around your, your listing agent’s, theirs and their buyers’ busy schedules . We want to show and sell homes!

If it isn’t easy to show you’re helping your competition, because their homes are.

While I’m at it, when your home is being shown  please do the following:

* Keep all lights on

* Keep all drapes and shutters open

* Keep all interior doors unlocked

* Leave soft music playing

* Take a short walk with your children and pets

* Let the buyer be at ease and let the agents do their job

PAINT & CARPETING

Paint is your best improvement investment for getting a greater return on your money. Paint makes the whole house smell clean and neat. If your house has chipped paint, exposed wood, or the paint looks faded, it is time to paint. If your carpet is worn, dirty, outdated, or an unusual color, you may need to seriously consider replacing it. Many houses do not sell because of this problem. Don’t think that buyers have more money than you have to replace carpet. They don’t. They simply buy elsewhere.

FRONT YARD & CURB APPEAL

Your front yard immediately reflects the inside condition of your house to the buyer. People enjoy their yards. Make certain that the trees are trimmed so the house can be seen from the street. Have the grass mowed, trimmed and edged. Walkways should be swept. Debris cleared away. Remove parked cars. This all adds to curb appeal. If a buyer doesn’t like the outside, they may not stop to see the inside.

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