Selling A House With Damp
Looking at what to do when selling a house with damp, the causes and how to identify it.
Selling a property can be challenging enough without the added stress of discovering you have a damp and mould problem and now have a ‘problem property’ on your hands.
Once you have discovered it, you have the unpleasant task of having to treat it, or putting it on the market for a new buyer to deal with.
Selling a house with damp and mould is no easy feat, as the damage that can be caused by it can range from minor to major depending on the severity of the situation.
In this article, we will be looking at selling a house with damp and mould, how to identify it, what causes it and what your options are.
What Is Damp?
Damp is a common issue that occurs in homes across the UK. It is generally found in older properties, but it can occur in houses of any age. It is unwanted moisture in the structure of the home that is caused by factors from either the inside or outside. Damp can bring with it a whole host of issues including damage to wallpaper or paint, stains on walls and ceilings, rotting and mould.
The Different Types And Top Causes Of Damp
To understand the top causes of damp, we must first look at the different types of damp. There are generally three types of damp, penetrating damp, rising damp and condensation.
Rising damp occurs in a property when groundwater moves up through the walls, starting at the bottom and gradually rising into the frame of the property.
The majority of buildings are fitted with a barrier made up of non-absorbent, water-resistant materials such as plastic or bitumen. This is called a damp proof course. Over time, however, this damp proof course can become ineffective and this is when groundwater can start to travel up the walls.
A lot of older buildings do not have a damp proof course fitted which is why this kind of damp can be found in older properties.
Penetrating damp, also known as water ingress or lateral damp, is one of the most common forms of damp. It is caused by water infiltration through an external wall and into a property.
If you spot penetrating damp in your property, it can be from a number of causes. The three most common ways you can end up with a penetrating damp problem in your property is from:
Building Defects – Building defects such as leaking/blocked pipes, dilapidated or poorly installed windows, missing roof tiles, overflowing gutters etc can all allow moisture into your property.
Porous Walls – As bricks get older, they lose the ability to keep out rainfall and cracks in the external render allows water ingress.
Spalled Bricks And Degraded Mortar – Damaged bricks and degraded mortar allow water to get into your home and for penetrating damp to spread.
Condensation is caused by moisture in the air settling on walls, especially in rooms where there isn’t a lot of ventilation. Rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens where there is a lot of moisture in the air but not a lot of room for it to go suffer the most from this type of damp.
Moisture and condensation originate from unavoidable everyday activities such as:
Boiling a kettle
Washing and drying clothes
Paraffin and gas heaters
Even breathing adds moisture to the air
How To Identify It
It can be easy to panic if you find damp on your property, but the first thing you need to do is identify the type of damp you have got. Thankfully, all three types of damp have different looks that make them fairly easy to identify.
Rising damp can be easy to identify as it appears as areas of damp on walls and the infected walls may look or feel wet. It may also be accompanied by areas of moss growth and peeling plaster.
If you suspect that you may have penetrating damp on your property, you can check for it by looking for one of the following signs:
Staining on the external walls
Damp patches appearing on walls or on ceilings
Plaster that looks wet or crumbly
Black mould or spores that are isolated to one area of the property
Drips and puddles
It can be easy to spot as it appears as water droplets on windows and walls and if left untreated long enough can lead to black mould appearing on walls and glass accompanied by an unpleasant musty smell.
Is It Illegal To Sell A House With Damp?
In short, it is illegal to sell a house with damp. Damp and mould are not an issue that you can hide with paint and it is a legal requirement for sellers to disclose any such issues with the property to any potential buyers. Failing to disclose this to potential buyers can have serious legal ramifications.
Impact On Your Health
The Environmental Protection Agency found that 21% of asthma cases can be accredited to issues from mould and dampness in a home.
It can also affect people with weak immune systems, such as the elderly, infants and children are especially vulnerable to side effects from damp and mould.
How Much Do Damp And Mould Devalue A Home?
If left untreated and allowed to spiral, damp and mould can devalue a property by up to 53%. Even if you choose to treat your damp and mould problem, your house can still lose around 3% of its value.
How To Treat Damp
Whilst at surface value, damp and mould may seem like a fairly trivial problem, if left untreated it can spread and cause structural damage to your home. It can appear to be an easy fix, but unfortunately, damp and mould will spread faster than you can get rid of it and in rooms with poor ventilation and a high content of moisture such as attics and bathrooms, the spread can be sped up and quickly grow out of control.
The best course of action is to have your suspected damp issue inspected by a professional contractor.
There are many different damp treatment options available, and the type you get depends on the type of damp you have, the severity of the damp and its location within the house.
As a rule of thumb, treatment can involve the installation of a chemical that is injected into holes in the masonry to repel water, or instead, a new damp membrane can be fitted into the home to act as a barrier against the moisture.
There are however downsides with this option, if you decide to treat your property repairs can be expensive and time-consuming.
If you decide to have your home damp proofed as a pre-emptive measure, you need to be aware of the problems it can bring. To have a three-bedroom house damp proofed it can cost between £3,000 to £4,000, the cost varies depending on the extent of the damp problem and the size of the infected room.
The drying time of the damp proofing can also be lengthy, with the average drying time taking up to a month per inch of wall thickness.
Even after the house is treated, due to the history of the property, potential buyers may still want a further discount.
Can You Sell A House With Untreated Damp?
If you don’t have the time or the money to treat a mould and damp problem, then don’t panic. You will still be able to sell your property, but you will need to understand that once potential buyers find out about your mould and damp issues, no matter how minor or major, a lot of them will be turned off by this.
Potential buyers may walk away immediately or offer you a much lower offer for your property as they will have to spend additional money treating the mould and damp once they have already purchased the property.
If you still wish to continue selling a house with damp and mould problems, then you can do this in one of three ways. You can either go through an estate agent, through an auction or through a genuine cash buyer.
When it comes to selling any type of property, the first way that most people think of is selling through an estate agent. However, when it comes to selling what can be referred to as a ‘problem property’, it can present its own set of challenges and selling a house with damp is no different.
If you are selling a ‘problem property’ the best kind of estate agent to go through would be a specialist estate agent. A specialist estate agent has experience with selling homes that are classed as ‘problems’, such as properties that suffer from dry rot, Japanese knotweed or damp and mould.
A huge positive to going down this route is that an estate agent will do all of the hard work for you, such as creating a listing for the property and advertising it for you.
However, with selling a house with damp through an estate agent, you will also need to book house viewings at your home for potential buyers. This can be a lengthy and inconvenient procedure that means taking time off work, making sure any other issues within the house are fixed and at the end of it all you still may not have a buyer and you will have to repeat the process all over again.
Another downside that comes with selling your home through an estate agent is that it can be months before you find a seller on the open market. Finding a buyer this way is not guaranteed even if your home is free of damp and mould, which if you are looking for a sale is not ideal.
Selling through an estate agent also means after paying for the estate agency fees and having to take time off work for the viewings, you still have other fees to pay such as legal fees and removal costs. These extra costs can add up and eat away at your final profit from your house sale.
Going Through Auction
An alternative to selling through an estate agent is to sell it through an auction. A huge bonus to selling your property this way is that sellers will be made aware of the damp and mould issue and won’t be put off by it.
At an auction, you agree on a minimum reserve price for your home and if a buyer bids on it, it will sell.
The best-case auction scenario is that multiple buyers will be interested in the property and will be outbidding each other, raising the final profit.
Another positive to selling a house with damp through an auction is that auctioneers have a lot of experience with selling a broad range of properties with problems such as damp and mould.
However, there are a couple of issues that come with selling through an auction. One of the issues that come with selling through an auction is that it involves a lot of waiting. Once you have listed your property for sale, you will have to wait for the next auction which could be weeks or months away. Waiting for the next auction is not ideal for sellers who are looking for a sale which is quick and hassle-free.
Even after the auction is complete, you will still have to wait for the paperwork to go through which can take a month or more, once again adding to the delay.
Furthermore, auctioneers charge a commission to cover the cost of marketing and selling your home, and this can eat away at the profit made from your house sale.
The third option for selling a house with damp is to sell it through a genuine cash buyer. A cash buyer is the best way to guarantee a sale on your house, even if it suffers from structural damage caused by damp and mould. Unlike other buyers on the open market who would be discouraged from purchasing a property infected with damp and mould, a cash buyer would not mind.
Another positive to selling through a cash buyer is that it means a guaranteed sale within a time frame that suits you.
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