Mold and The California Purchase Contract

Mold Inspections are important

You have just moved into your new (to you) home. Everything seemed well enough during the purchase process. But now you smell something musty. Then the reality hits you:

Your purchase contract specified that unless you hired a mold inspector, you have signed away your rights to come after anyone for mold issues discovered after the purchase!

CALIFORNIA RESIDENTIAL PURCHASE AGREEMENT

In California, every Realtor uses the same standard residential purchase contract, with the same Statewide Buyer advisories. The word “mold” appears 16 times in the basic paperwork, and each time is a warning.

BUYER’S INVESTIGATION ADVISORY

BUYER’S INVESTIGATION ADVISORY
(C.A.R. Form BIA, Revised 12/21), Sec 3 states

3. YOU ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO INVESTIGATE THE CONDITION AND SUITABILITY OF ALL ASPECTS OF THE PROPERTY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING. IF YOU DO NOT DO SO, YOU ARE ACTING AGAINST THE ADVICE OF BROKERS.

F. ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS: Potential environmental hazards, including, but not limited to, asbestos, lead-based paint and other lead contamination, radon, methane, other gases, fuel oil or chemical storage tanks, contaminated soil or water, hazardous waste, waste disposal sites, electromagnetic fields, nuclear sources, and other substances, materials, products, or conditions (including mold (airborne, toxic or otherwise), fungus or similar contaminants).

In short, the California Association of Realtors is saying your broker advises you to investigate mold, and to not do so then you are acting against the advice of your broker.

Taking a surface sample of suspected mold
Taking a surface sample of suspected mold

STATEWIDE BUYER AND SELLER ADVISORY

The bulk of the mold discussion is on the STATEWIDE BUYER AND SELLER ADVISORY, (C.A.R. Form SBSA, Revised 6/21)

Page 2, in the table of contents, it specifies Mold is its own section of the advisory, on page 3.

Section 5 states, in part:

INSPECTIONS: Buyer and Seller are advised that Buyer has the right to obtain various inspections of the Property under most residential purchase agreements. Buyer is advised to have the Property inspected by a professional property inspection service within Buyer’s inspection contingency period.  The inspector generally does not look behind walls or under carpets, or take equipment apart. ….   A general physical inspection typically will not test for mold,

Section 6 is where the most information is found:

MOLD: Buyer and Seller are advised that the presence of certain kinds of mold, fungi, mildew and other organisms, sometimes referred to as “toxic mold” (collectively “Mold”), may adversely affect the Property and the health of individuals who live on or work at the Property as well as pets. Mold does not affect all people the same way, and may not affect some people at all. Mold may be caused by water leaks or other sources of moisture such as, but not limited to, flooding, and leaks in windows, pipes and roof. Seller is advised to disclose the existence of any such conditions
of which he or she is aware. Buyer should carefully review all of Seller’s disclosures for any indication that any of these conditions exist. It is, however, possible that Mold may be hidden and that Seller is completely unaware of its existence. In addition, Mold is often undetectable from a visual inspection, a professional general property inspection and even a structural pest control inspection. Brokers do not have expertise in this area. If Buyer wants further information, Broker recommends that Buyer have the Property tested for Mold by an environmental hygienist or other appropriate professional during Buyer’s inspection contingency period. Licenses are not available for all types of inspection activities. Brokers do not have expertise in this area.

In short, the California Association of Realtors has gone to great lengths to warn buyers about hidden mold and stated the ONLY way to detect mold is to hire an appropriate mold professional.

If you sign your purchase contract (which you have to do to buy the house) and do not hire a mold professional, then you have signed away your rights to come back after the purchase and make a claim about mold, even if you have had a general home inspection. The California Association of Realtors has gone to great lengths to protect their agents (and in the process, the general home inspector) from claims or lawsuits over mold discovered after the sale. Because technically, mold is everywhere. You can not escape all mold, you only want to avoid concentrated mold.

Inspector Tim taking an air sample
Inspector Tim taking an air sample

ORDER A MOLD INSPECTION

The only way to protect yourself against potential mold issues is to have a mold inspection. This is a separate service from the general home inspection, but it may be done at the same time.

One of our trained and certified mold inspectors will do a visual examination of the home to look for conditions that are conducive to mold growth. They will look for moisture damage, moisture intrusion like plumbing/roofing/ HVAC leaks, musty odors, etc.  The complete mold inspection is performed in accordance with the Mold inspection Standards of Practice of the International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants (IAC2). They will then take samples based on where they feel the most changes of mold are, or where you the client direct them. A standard inspection package included a control sample and two indoor samples. Additional samples can be taken for an extra charge.

The samples are sent to a lab for analysis. Only a laboratory can determine if a substance is mold or not.

Read more about our mold sampling service here. 

To book your general home inspection and/or mold inspection, call 818-298-3405!

Inspector Matt dropping off samples to go to the lab
Inspector Matt shipping samples to the lab

For more information about mold, read the EPA’s website.