Radon and Real Estate
More and more, consumers are asking about radon levels before they buy or rent a home. Radon does not need to delay or prohibit a real estate transaction, but a home’s radon level is information all parties should know, and radon problems can be easily fixed! Because real estate sales happen quickly, there is often little time to deal with radon and other issues. The best thing to do is to test for radon now and save the results. In most instances, radon testing and mitigation are not mandatory, however, radon test results are subject to real estate disclosure laws.
I am selling a home. What should I do?
The US EPA recommends that you test your home before putting it on the market. Testing can give you information that will be useful for your family and for potential buyers. If your home has an elevated radon level, it is recommended you take action to lower it. Save the test results and all information you have about steps that were taken to fix the problem. This could be a positive and value-added selling point.
If you are testing your home because you want to sell it, but have not yet put it on the market, use a test kit that is designed for real estate transactions. They usually contain two tests that you deploy at the same time, which guarantees accuracy. If you are testing your home during a real estate transaction, the test must be conducted by a certified radon tester. Remember, no matter where you live or the age of your house, test for radon. Testing is the only way to know if you have a problem.
I am buying a home. What should I do?
The US EPA recommends that you know what the indoor radon level is in any home you consider buying. Ask the seller for their radon test results. If no test was conducted in the home, consult a radon testing professional about conducting a test. If the house has a radon reduction system, ask the seller for any information they have about the system.
If you are looking at buying a house with a radon reduction system already installed, you should view it as value-added. After all, the problem has been dealt with, and as long as the system is functioning properly, you don't have to worry about radon. Check with your lender or your insurance company – they may offer incentives if your new home has a radon reduction system.
All homes, especially those in moderate or high radon zones, should be tested for radon. The cost of fixing the problem could be a negotiating point, added to the mortgage amount, or if nothing else you will know upfront how much it will cost. If, on the other hand, you really like the house but you and the seller cannot agree on terms, you can buy the house knowing that if it has high radon it can be easily fixed for generally between $2500 and $5000, depending on the house size and complexity of the radon system.
I am a Real Estate Professional. How can I help my clients?
Many states have begun to adopt regulations which require real estate brokers to share radon information with their clients. Radon advisory disclosures are currently required in sales of HUD-owned property and FHA loans. Many relocation companies require radon testing and/or radon disclosure, and many real estate brokers require specific radon disclosure statements. California has not yet enacted legislation requiring sellers and leasers to give out specific radon information. However, real estate professionals who develop and maintain their knowledge of radon will be in demand, as citizens' expectations and questions increase in coming years.
Tips for Real Estate Professionals:
· Radon levels vary from house to house, even on the same street. If you manage multiple properties in the same neighborhood, remember that their radon levels could still be very different from one another.
· Early disclosure to both buyers and sellers will give everyone ample time to learn about radon and act accordingly. Early disclosure builds an atmosphere of trust and encourages an honest exchange among all parties. Problems are much more likely to arise if radon becomes an issue late in a real estate transaction.
· Be a resource for your clients. Provide booklets and materials to customers and clients to help them make informed decisions. Avoid advising clients about the specifics of radon testing, interpreting, or remediation – refer them to our program and we are happy to help. For free resources, visit the EPA’s Radon and Real Estate webpage.
If your client has questions about radon, you can always direct them to our program. It is best to address radon early in the real estate process, so we can ensure information is shared in a timely manner and does not delay the sale of a home.
Follow these links for information on real estate disclosures.