Moisture & Mold: Steering Clear of Liability

The presence of mold is a contentious issue for building owners, builders, insurance companies, real estate agents and others. Mold addendums to sales contracts are now offered by many real estate boards for use by their members in sales transactions. As a professional appraiser or inspector you need to understand mold and all its related issues, such as moisture and water intrusion.

Since spores are everywhere, fungal growth is likely when conditions are favorable. The most important condition is moisture. Fungi, like all biological organisms, require moisture for growth. When moisture intrusion occurs inside buildings, the stage is set for fungal growth. With acceptable moisture levels present, fungal spores can germinate into new colonies within a few days. Therefore, it is imperative that the appraiser/inspector be aware of susceptible areas within buildings.

While the responsibility is greater for inspectors, since they are expected to have advanced knowledge of structural details, appraisers also should examine susceptible areas and note any visible mold. Since the appraiser is typically the “eyes” of the lender in a sales/refinance transaction, reliance is placed upon the appraiser’s notes for details about the structure.

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