Man removing mold from ceiling.

Buying A House With Mold: What You Need To Know

March 01, 2024 5-minute read

Author: Sam Hawrylack


Not every house you look at will be in perfect condition. Some homes may even have mold growth, which can be scary. What if the mold growth is out of hand and causes your family physical harm?

It’s not a decision to take lightly and understanding the risks of mold in the house is important before you either buy a house or walk away from it.

Let a pro do it for you.

Compare multiple quotes for mold removal services with HomeAdvisor.

The Risks Of Buying A House With Mold

There are many risks associated with buying a house with mold problems. Understanding the risks can help you determine your next steps.

1. It Can Be Toxic To Your Family

The #1 risk of buying a house with mold is the toxicity to your family. Mold exposure can cause many health issues in humans, especially if there is black mold. While not everyone is affected by mold exposure, those who are could have a severe reaction.

Common symptoms of mold exposure include:

  • Congestion or a runny nose
  • Lung irritation
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

Currently, there are no tests available that show when and where you were affected by mold, so knowing your surroundings is important if you or your family members exhibit symptoms of mold exposure.

2. It Stains Your Home

Mold is also harmful to your home. Besides the health issues it can cause, it’s unsightly. Mold usually shows up in homes in a variety of colors, including black, green and brown, so there’s no way to disguise it or cover it up. Most people know what it looks like and would be put off if they saw it in your home.

Mold stains are usually tough to remove or even clean. Since mold grows fast and worsens over time, it can be time-consuming and nearly impossible to remove the stains from walls and ceilings.

If caught quickly enough, bleach may remove the mold stains, but if the stains remain there for a while or are in hidden areas, other methods may be necessary, including demolition in some cases.

3. It Can Severely Damage Your Property

Mold can grow in areas you might not even realize, such as HVAC systems, air ducts and carpeting. If the mold grows in the air ducts, it spreads the mold throughout the home, making the spread worse and increasing the risk of danger to your family members.

If the mold growth is severe, it can cause thousands of dollars in damage and even make certain systems, such as the HVAC system, stop working. Depending on the level of mold damage that occurs, it can even lower the property value of your home.

4. It’s Costly To Remove

Dealing with mold isn’t cheap. First, you need a mold inspection to confirm the presence of mold and to create a mold remediation plan. A qualified mold inspector will be able to tell you the type of mold in the house and help you determine how best to fix it.

The average cost to remove mold issues is $2,000, but the total cost depends on the depth of the mold damage, what it affected and what needs to be done to remedy it. The cost of removing mold depends on where it’s located (is it easy to access?), the type of mold, and whether it’s a simple treatment or if full demolition is necessary.

5. It’s Usually The Result Of Another Problem

Mold growth usually occurs because of a leak somewhere in the house. For example, if there is mold in the basement, it could be any pipe in the house leaking. This could get expensive and time-consuming to figure out where the problem is and what must be done to fix it. If the problem is complicated, it could affect other areas of the home too.

6. Mold Can Smell

One of the telltale signs that you have mold growth is a musty smell in the air. You might also consider the air dank or the feeling in the house seems “earthy.” If it’s a mild smell, it might not be as big of a job. Still, if the smell is overpowering, it’s a serious issue that might affect the entire house and requires professional care quickly.

Let a pro do it for you.

Compare multiple quotes for mold removal services with HomeAdvisor.

When To Walk Away From A House With Mold

Not all homes must be avoided if they have mold, but there are certain telltale signs that indicate when one should be avoided.

You should always consider a home inspection before you buy one. The inspector can give you details about what might be wrong with the home to help you decide if it’s a good investment or not.

These telltale signs should have you looking for another home fast:

  • The house fails all inspections because of mold growth, especially if there are foundation issues.
  • The seller doesn’t have the money to cover the cost of mold remediation and removal or doesn’t want to spend the money fixing it.
  • The seller doesn’t have the time or seem to care about fixing the mold issues.

You should only consider buying a home with mold issues when the damage is limited in scope and the seller is willing to rectify the issues, especially if they weren’t aware the home had mold issues.

Buying A Home With Mold: FAQs

Buying a home that has mold is a big deal. Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about mold in a house you’re thinking about buying.

Who is responsible for the cost of mold removal?

The responsibility of mold removal is more about disclosing its presence versus paying for mold remediation. Sellers are responsible for disclosing any issues with the home, including mold. If a seller knew about the mold issues and didn’t reveal them, they could face legal consequences.

As far as paying for the cost of removing the mold, it depends on what you and the seller work out. Should the seller pay for mold remediation?

It seems that way, but sometimes buyers and sellers work out other situations. For example, if the seller doesn’t have the time to be bothered with it, they may give the buyer a credit at the closing to cover the cost but not do the work. Other sellers don’t want to cover the cost and consider it the buyer’s responsibility. However, in some states, the seller is responsible for the cost, so it depends on where you live.

What causes mold in a house?

Mold is caused by excess moisture in the house. This is usually caused by a leaking pipe, a leaking roof, severe flooding, or dark, moist areas that give mold plenty of room to grow.

Can a house be condemned for mold?

A few areas of mold growth aren’t any reason to condemn a home, but if there are too many infested areas of the home, there is a chance it could be condemned.

What happens if I find mold after buying a house?

The best course of action if you find mold after buying a house is to contact a mold inspector. Get a professional to tell you if there is mold, what type, and the best course of action. Professional mold removal isn’t always necessary, especially if it’s surface mold and can be cleaned with bleach. It’s always best to be safe rather than sorry when determining the right steps.

How do I prevent mold in the future?

The key to preventing mold growth is to limit humidity levels in the home. It’s also important that you stay on top of home maintenance tasks, checking pipes regularly for leaks, having the roof inspected annually, and keeping an eye on the basement and any new water spots or wet areas that could signify there is a leak somewhere in the house that could cause mold growth.

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The Bottom Line

Buying a house with mold isn’t the end of the world if the mold problem isn’t out of hand. It’s best to have a professional mold inspection and to talk to the seller about helping with the remediation costs before committing to buy a home.

If you’re ready to look at homes and have an inspector tell you if the home has mold growth or not, get preapproved for a home purchase first to make sure it’s the right time to become a homeowner.

Let a pro do it for you.

Compare multiple quotes for mold removal services with HomeAdvisor.

Samantha Hawrylack headshot

Sam Hawrylack

Samantha is a full-time personal finance and real estate writer with 5 years of experience. She has a Bachelor of Science in Finance and an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She writes for publications like Rocket Mortgage, Bigger Pockets, Quicken Loans, Angi, Well Kept Wallet, Crediful, Clever Girl Finance, AllCards, InvestingAnswers, and many more.