Beware of Mold When Buying a Foreclosed Home

Written by Vickie Swenson of Minnesota Mold Inspectors
Updated November 20, 2013
Investors can avoid a precarious situation by cleaning the house of mold before the carpet has been installed and the walls have been painted, says Swenson. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Christopher A. of Colorado Springs, Colo.)

There are a lot of investors who purchase foreclosed homes, fix them up and sell them. Some investors handle mold removal effectively, but others do not.

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It's no secret that there has been a good amount of foreclosed homes for sale over the past several years. Many of them sit for months or years at a time and develop mold as the result of frozen water pipes, sump pump overflows or humid conditions that arise when the air conditioning has been off.

There are a lot of investors who purchase theses houses, fix them up and list them for sale. Some investors handle mold removal effectively, but others do not. The best practice involves removing sheet rock, carpet or insulation that has developed mold and cleaning wood and concrete where mold is present. Most investors will take these basic steps.

However, mold releases spores into the air. The spores can remain in a house for a long time if HEPA air filters and HEPA vacuums are not used to reduce the levels. You cannot see the spores, so the only way to know if they are there is to test. The spores can carry allergens and elevated spores increase the risk of mold spreading if conditions become humid.

Many times, a potential buyer of a home may see pictures of the house before it was rehabbed and order mold testing as a result. If the spore counts are high, action must be taken. Even after installing new carpet, it takes extra HEPA vacuuming to ensure that the spores are removed.

These homes eventually become clean from mold problems and can be sold. However, investors can avoid a precarious situation such as this by cleaning the house before the carpet has been installed and the walls have been painted. Testing the house for mold spores before these projects are completed can save a lot of time and hassle.

In the end, buyers shouldn’t be afraid to purchase a re-habbed foreclosure. They can all be returned to a clean, livable condition. However, you should ask if there has been mold, how it was cleaned and if it was tested before listing the property. 

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About this Angie’s List Expert: Vickie Swenson is the owner of Minnesota Mold Inspection, providing mold testing and remediation in Minneapolis. Since 2005, Minnesota Mold Inspection has specialized in mold and moisture testing, mold removal reports and more. Swenson is a certified residential mold inspector.

As of November 20, 2013, 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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