Mold, Sold Listing, Commercial Building


Dear David,
Our Inspector found some patches of black in the attic. What now? – CONCERNED

DEAR CONCERNED: This type of thing is not uncommon. It tends to go undetected in attics, as people don’t spend much time there, but quite often comes up on home inspections. To establish if a suspicious microbial growth is mold, it would have to be sent away to a lab. But since the cleanup process is similar no matter what the diagnosis, many people don’t bother with the time and expense of testing.

Suspicious growth tends to occur where moisture levels are high. You’ll want to establish whether the problem is isolated or due to a larger problem (such as a roof or bathroom fan vent leak). While large areas warrant the involvement of a remediation company, smaller patches can be tackled on your own with an appropriate product. There’s an old wives tale that bleach is the cure-all for “microbial growth”. While this may work well on smooth surfaces, it’s not the right choice for porous materials, like wood.

Despite the hype, few molds are actually toxic. The “black mold” we hear about is not a specific species, but a term that refers to any mold that produces toxins (specifically mycotoxins). My understanding is that dangerous molds inside the home are actually pretty rare, but the growth that your inspector has identified should still be remediated and the cause repaired.

Dear David,
I saw my house advertised after it was sold, along with how much it sold for. What’s going on, I didn’t say anyone could do that! – FEELING EXPOSED

DEAR EXPOSED: A Realtor’s advertisements must adhere to Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) guidelines. These rules clearly state that a real estate advertisement can’t give away any details of a sales agreement (including the selling price) without written consent from both the buyer and the seller.

If your home sale is being advertised alongside its selling price (or phrasing that would allow someone to figure it out, such as “sold for 95% of asking price”) and you did not give written consent, the Realtor who posted the information is in violation of RECO rules. I would suggest contacting the offending Brokerage immediately to have the information removed. Should the problem persist, contact RECO directly.

Dear David,
Our business is expanding. Is it more cost-effective to buy a commercial building, or to build one? – GROWING

DEAR GROWING: Provided you can find something suitable in today’s market, it’s almost always cheaper to buy an existing commercial building rather than build one from scratch. Building new means finding available land in the right location (which might be tough) and absorbing a myriad of development charges and fees. When you purchase an existing building, these costs have already been incurred. The challenge becomes finding something of the right size, in a good location, with the correct zoning, which is where an experienced Realtor comes in! My best advice is to start looking at options a minimum of 12-18 months ahead of when you need to be in your new location.