Mold Disclosure - Real Estate
a mold disclosure won't protect you from serious problems!
Illinois real estate transactions usually involve the use of the
Illinois Association of Realtors Mold Disclosure form. The form
identifies the parties of the transaction, it identifies the property
in question, and then it has 5 parts to it.
1: Seller Disclosure
This section has three parts. It allows the seller to state, to the
best of their knowledge, that the property has or has not been
inspected for mold. If it was inspected, it gives the seller the
opportunity to communicate that problems with TOXIC molds were or
were not found. Then it allows the seller to communicate whether
measures to remove the mold were or were not taken.
This is the big "heads up" for the buyer. In Illinois most contracts
have an addendum titled, Illinois Assocaition of Realtors Residential
Real Property Disclosure Report, which should be read carefully to find
other hints that there could be mold problems. This form asks about
floods, flood plain, and other water related issues. Make sure these
questions are marked "NO".
This still doesn't truly protect you from mold hazards or toxic mold
problems. It does allow the topic to be discussed and uniformly
addressed. If you suspect there could be an issue then you'll have to
have it inspected for mold.
2: Mold Inspections
This section states that although mold COULD exist, the seller is
unaware. It then describes conditions conducive to mold growth. It
informs the buyer that a professional home inspection may not be able
to determine if mold is a problem and to consult a mold testing
professional. It then lets you know that the real estate agents are not
experts in the field of mold and then urges the buyers to make sure
they are happy with the property's condition. Initials are required by
3: Hold Harmless
This section is to protect the brokers and agents in the transaction.
The buyer must decide whether or not this property is safe in terms of
mold and makes that decision independent of anything the agents or
brokers may have communicated.
4: Receipt of Copy
This states that a copy was provided to the seller and buyer with their
signatures that indicate that they have, in fact, received a copy of
the mold disclosure form.
5: Professional Advice
This section urges both the buyer and seller to seek professional
advice if there are any questions or concerns regarding the execution
of the mold disclosure form. In essence, this section is a pause or
opt-out point to think it over. Then if it is okay with the parties,
they sign and date the mold disclosure form.
Personal Opinion / Editorial:
What does the Mold Disclosure protect the buyer from? Basically
nothing! It is still buyer beware. The function of the mold disclosure
form is to create a pause in the sometimes overly emotional process of
buying and selling a home. It is a point where the buyer or seller
should talk about mold as an individual topic. It is a point to step
back and evaluate the deal.
The mold disclosure probably won't bring up a lot of dialogue between
the seller, buyer, brokers, and agents. In 99% of the cases none of
these entities is going to be a professional in the mold field.
Therefore, by law, the brokers and agents can really only recommend a
professional mold inspection or steer you to your own legal counsel.
The mold disclosure is just another device to try to deflect risk /
blame in our overly litigious society. What do expect in a society that
churns out lawyers?
Although the mold disclosure form may at least highlight the presence
of mold in a property, it really won't protect anyone if the mold
exists. Arm yourself with as much mold knowledge
as you can and move on.
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Director Environmental Services
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St. Francis Hospital of Evanston