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View Poll Results: Buy or walk?
Push forward, work with sellers to repair mold during transaction 9 29.03%
Walk away, but stay open to re-engaging after remediation 5 16.13%
Walk away forever 17 54.84%
Voters: 31. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-20-2017, 09:47 AM
 
1,408 posts, read 807,001 times
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I had a home inspection yesterday on a potential home purchase in upper Westchester NY. The home is 2,800 square feet; the original portion of the home was built in 1930 (1,200 sq ft) and a large addition and total renovation occurred in 2007 which was added on to the back of the house.

At the inspection, there was mold in the attic. Well, "organic substance subject to testing"- the inspector took a sample and we'll find out on Monday if it was mold, but he said "I can't legally call it mold until after it is tested, but it's going to test positive". I saw it with my own eyes- it was creeping up from where the roof meets the attic floor, and it was in every spot between the joists where we could see it (about 10 sections were visible and all had visible darkening).

Here is my issue- the attic was FULL of junk. We were only able to see ~10% of the attic. The portion we were in was the portion over the newer section of house; we couldn't get through to see what the attic over the old part of the house looks like. This annoys me because they are pressuring me to move forward with contracts and put 10% down without even having seen most of the attic. In New York; we inspect before contracts.

Aside from the mold in the attic, the house was pretty tired. The exterior had a nearly completely rusted propane tank (owned, not rented), four rotted window frames, about 12 or 14 exterior light fixtures were quite rusty, and a wooden swingset was on its last legs. Inside, zero maintenance has been performed on the house. There are things like a shower hose sprayer with a heavily frayed hose (apparently stainless hoses have blue plastic hoses inside...), spindles missing in stair railings, outlet covers cracked and missing, large dings in walls, etc. Each on its own pretty minor, but on net, I just hate it when people don't take care of their houses.

So here's my question for the group- on net, would you walk away, or would you push forward and work with the sellers to remediate their mold and ignore the little stuff? We like the location, we like the house in general, but our offer is at the top of the range that this house is probably worth.

I'm leaning towards walking away but potentially re-engaging in the future after they've taken care of things. I won't be satisfied if they merely kill the existing mold, I want to see structural changes to prevent future growth- there are already soffit vents along the entire length and they aren't helping. Not sure if I'm overreacting though.

Last edited by NYCresident2014; 07-20-2017 at 10:05 AM..
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:58 AM
 
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I'd walk. Mold can creep up the whole house. To me, and I am not a construction expert....simply learned a lot after a flood in out area and working as a disaster related employee for 3 years. We did a ton of research on mold. We learned that it can eat it's way up through sheet rock and such....So, it could have come from the bottom of your home....Or it could be related to the roof. Either way, mold remediation is expensive.....then you have to cure whatever caused the mold....water leak at roof.. poor flashing, gutters, bad shingles....or at the bottom....past flooding long term seepage....All are possibilities....and there could be more.

And, the point is, this is what you could see. Mold is often where you cannot see it.....so in my opinion....there could be plenty hidden by the materials covering the walls, as well as the stuff in the attic. Also, insulation in those areas would be tainted if it has gone through the roofline.

If you want I'd have a mold remediation team come give an assessment....then you'll know what you are potentially getting into cost wise....and if they think it is salvageable....you can ask for that reduction in the home price.

Again....I am no expert. But, what I learned about mold made my husband and I walk away from our dream property back in 2001...because we uncovered mold in a rental house at the back of the property that we had been given access too as we were in the final stages before closing. There was also evidence of mold in the basement of the main house....which we were willing to cut the finished basement and still buy....until we discovered in the back house mold had grown up to the attic there.

So...hopefully the test isn't mold....but like your inspector I am guessing that it is.

Look for a sound house. Houses cost too much money to buy something that will be a money pit going in. Good luck
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Old 07-20-2017, 12:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JanND View Post
I'd walk. Mold can creep up the whole house. To me, and I am not a construction expert....simply learned a lot after a flood in out area and working as a disaster related employee for 3 years. We did a ton of research on mold. We learned that it can eat it's way up through sheet rock and such....So, it could have come from the bottom of your home....Or it could be related to the roof. Either way, mold remediation is expensive.....then you have to cure whatever caused the mold....water leak at roof.. poor flashing, gutters, bad shingles....or at the bottom....past flooding long term seepage....All are possibilities....and there could be more.

And, the point is, this is what you could see. Mold is often where you cannot see it.....so in my opinion....there could be plenty hidden by the materials covering the walls, as well as the stuff in the attic. Also, insulation in those areas would be tainted if it has gone through the roofline.

If you want I'd have a mold remediation team come give an assessment....then you'll know what you are potentially getting into cost wise....and if they think it is salvageable....you can ask for that reduction in the home price.

Again....I am no expert. But, what I learned about mold made my husband and I walk away from our dream property back in 2001...because we uncovered mold in a rental house at the back of the property that we had been given access too as we were in the final stages before closing. There was also evidence of mold in the basement of the main house....which we were willing to cut the finished basement and still buy....until we discovered in the back house mold had grown up to the attic there.

So...hopefully the test isn't mold....but like your inspector I am guessing that it is.

Look for a sound house. Houses cost too much money to buy something that will be a money pit going in. Good luck
Thanks for this really helpful reply. I feel the same way- houses are a huge, huge investment, so why start with one that could be a money pit. I'm not in any rush to buy right now (we have 9 months before our lease expires, but we can always extend); we thought this was our dream house but after we looked under the surface a bit we see that it isn't.
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Old 07-20-2017, 02:25 PM
 
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It wouldn't be a deal killer for me. Mold is pretty common, especially in humid climates.

If I wanted the property I'd take a look at the cost of getting rid of it -- it might not be a big deal at all.
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Old 07-20-2017, 02:40 PM
 
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You have to stop the water intrusion before you can address the mold. Mold doesn't scare me, depending on price of the home and what needs to be done to fix the problem, that can become scary. Really it depends and not nearly enough info is provided.

If you're not handy and or not getting an amazing deal you should probably walk. If you were ready for something like what you're probably describing you'd have a lot more info and details available after an inspection.

Mold really isn't a big deal though. So long as the price is right for the work that needs to be done and you're willing to do it those are some of the best homes to invest in. Replacement windows and wood is pretty cheap, so is insulation and a home in that much need of repair likely need a new roof anyway. Many people walk away from really easy fixes instead of leveraging repairs and an undesirable situation against the seller.

Now that said, there are homes that are so bad they need to be brought to the studs or leveled. As I said above, details are important and pricing has to be right for it to make sense.
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Old 07-20-2017, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Texas or Cascais, Portugal
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I'd walk.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:03 PM
 
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Again, more helpful info thanks everyone.

This house is probably worth about 900-915k based on comps and we offered 930k. It was listed for rent, not for sale, so we made a sweet offer to entice the sellers to sell. It's on a street where only 1 or 2 homes come for sale each year and we really, really want to live on this street. We definitely aren't getting a deal on this one though.

That said, there will be other homes on the street for sale in the future and we don't need to buy now. We already live in the town so it won't make a big difference in our lives.

This is in a town where the median home price is 1.1m-1.2m, so we're on the dumpier end of the price range. Knock-downs around here go for the mid-600's to low 700's.

Last edited by NYCresident2014; 07-20-2017 at 03:12 PM..
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:33 AM
 
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In my experience, mold is a boogeyman with far less actual teeth than many home buyers understand. People get very upset about it due to a lot of alarmist information that has been shared, but it exists most places that have semi-humid or more humid climate. It exists outside and inside many homes and you breathe it every day. Some mold is very toxic, but many commonly found species are harmless UNLESS you have an allergy. A lot of people hear "mold!" and run so they don't truly understand what it is, what it takes to get rid of it, when its harmful, etc.

I have purchased homes with mold and found remediation to be less the nightmare than many say. It really depends on what kind of mold is present. It sounds like you are looking at a bit of a "fixer" in an upscale community, so you may be stuck with some things that are not 100% desirable. If it were me, and it were my dream house, I would probably stick especially if the sellers were able to bear some of the cost.

The bigger issue as some have mentioned is water. Where is the water getting into your house? Fixing that could be costly or it could be as simple as doing a sump pump and buying some $200 dehumidifiers.
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Old 07-21-2017, 09:11 AM
 
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Quick update- before totally walking away, I've asked the sellers to remove their belongings from the attic and to let me go back and see the rest of it. My main concern is the condition of the attic space over the older portion of the house. I'm also nervous that there doesn't seem to be an obvious cause, like a leak. That will probably happen in the next couple days.

This seems to be a very moist neighborhood; both of the neighboring homes are in a flood zone due to a nearby river though this property itself is not.
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:54 PM
 
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Sounds like most of the houses around there are likely to be mold prone if that is the case.

I missed that this was in the attic. It's probably a leaky roof. That could be result in a pricey fix depending. What did your home inspector say about it?
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