Many of the homes on the market this year have experienced water infiltration due to higher than normal water tables from several days in row with rain or heavy water runoff from neighboring properties. It has impacted lake homes, farm homes, newer developments and old downtown homes.

  Most homes look great when you walk through the main floor or upper levels but you can’t miss the damp smell when you open the basement door. Unless the seller has recently painted the basement walls and floor you can usually see black mold where the water is coming in.

  One of the main causes of water intrusion is improper grading or lack of gutters and downspouts.  If the water is running towards the house, it usually finds it way in. 

  After inspecting one of my seller’s homes, we noted that the neighboring properties, on all 3 sides, sloped into his yard and directly towards the house. He had a 4-level home with drain tile and a sump pump on the lowest floor, but not on the floor at grade level. Water was coming up through the floor, so he had his yard regraded, and created a rain garden for the water to pool away from the house, and added gutters. When he pulled back the carpet to dry it out, he saw mold, so he removed the carpet and pad, used bleach to kill the mold, dried it thoroughly, and installed new flooring.

  Another client had water coming into her basement this summer, and had drain tile installed outside and inside her home along with a sump pump. She removed the flooring, and dried out the basement, but water had gotten behind the walls where mold grew, so the basement had to be gutted to the studs, and rebuilt.

  Neither of these clients lived in a flood zone or had flood insurance, so the cost of mitigation was their own at $5000 in the first case, and $30,000 in the second. 

  Leaving mold in your house can cause significant health issues, and many people have mold allergies. Mold should be mitigated and water intrusion should be corrected as soon as it is detected. If you want to sell your home and leave it for the next owner, your home may take longer to sell and the price may be drastically discounted for the new owner to take care of the problem.

  An experienced real estate agent can direct you to professionals that can mitigate mold and correct water problems.

   Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.