|Mold Inspection Information: Mold In The Media - Hype vs. Reality |
Even though molds have been in existence for thousands of years, only recently have they been in the spotlight. This is largely attributable to the media, which has generated a significant amount of hype among homeowners and the real estate community.
The New York Times (August 24, 2001) article, “Haunted by Mold,” reported that one California lawyer, alone, is handling mold complaints for approximately 1,000 clients. No matter where one may draw the line between hype and reality, mold is clearly shaping up to be a very expensive epidemic for the real estate community.
In the July 2, 2001 issue of Time magazine, “Beware: Toxic Mold” reveals several examples of real estate losses due to mold problems during the last two years. The article reports that homeowners have paid thousands of dollars for repairs to their homes due to mold. In one case, a property owner burned down his home as a last resort since repairs would have exceeded the cost of new construction.
According to “No Sold if There’s Mold,” which appeared in Real Estate News (April 26, 2001), ”the biggest problem with molds is once they have invaded a home, they can’t be killed, particularly if the conditions that fostered the molds aren’t changed. When molds get into walls, flooring or roofing structures, the repair costs can be tremendous.” Any environmental issue that carries such significant financial exposure should not be ignored.
As reported CBS’ 48 Hours news story “An Insidious Mold,” aired on September 28, 2000, the Ballard family of Houston, TX was ordered by the local health department to evacuate their house. They had to move at a moment’s notice, leaving dishes in the dishwasher and food in the refrigerator. Mold had infiltrated beneath 2,500 square feet of wooden flooring, rendering their home uninhabitable.
Mold has even extended its reach into the insurance industry. The influx of insurance claims has led one Houston-based insurance claims firm to hire its ninth microbiologist this year alone. “Last year this firm did not have one microbiologist on its entire staff,” reported The Wall Street Journal in its June 6 th, 2001 article “Insurers Blanch at Proliferation of Homeowners Mold Claims.” It has brought up a sense of hysteria,” said Michael Thompson, chief executive officer of Engineering & Fire Investigations, a Houston-based subsidiary of claims specialist GAB Robins North America, “which will only wind up costing multiple millions of dollars to homeowners and insurance companies alike.” A Dallas newspaper recently confirmed this prediction.
A Dallas Morning News article (August 22, 2001) titled “Mold Policy May Delay Home Sales,” reported that Farmers Insurance Company had received more than 1,000 new mold-related claims this year. As a result, Farmers Insurance hired Independent actuaries that estimated the insurance companies would pay $128.5 million in mold claims in the Texas market in 2001. With these kinds of losses continuing to build, Farmers, along with Allstate and Progressive Insurance Company, have stopped selling new policies for home insurance in the Texas market. This movement within the insurance industry has presented many challenges for the real estate community. Closings are delayed, and other insurance providers must be pursued.
A blurred line exists between where the science of mold ends and the hype of mold begins. With all the attention being drawn to mold, it is important to dig through the hype to reveal the blatant facts. No matter how you look at it, mold is a reality, and so is the financial nightmare that is riding its coattails and plaguing the real estate community.
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Mold Screening | Mold In The Media - Hype vs. Reality