Radon and Real Estate
Radon measurements for real estate transactions must be conducted by certified radon testers. For more information about radon and real estate see the US EPA booklet "Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon."
Radon does not have to stop a real estate transaction. Radon levels can be reduced to acceptable levels with relatively simple systems.
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All houses should be tested for radon, if not during the sale or purchase, at least after you take occupancy. Houses even in areas of low radon potential can have elevated radon levels. (How does radon get into my house?) The probability, of course, is less in low radon potential areas, but it doesn't matter what the probability is if your house is the one that has high radon.
If you are in a high or moderate radon potential zone and want to be the consummate consumer you should have the house tested for radon. If it has elevated radon (>4 pCi/L) contact a certified mitigator to get an estimate to install a radon system. 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 and the seller is unwilling to negotiate you can buy the house knowing that if it has high radon it can be fixed for generally between $2500 and $5000, depending on the house size and complexity of the radon system.
The important thing is to have the house tested prior to buying or test yourself after you move in. You can test your house inexpensively, see Home Test Kits $7.95 for California residents. If you don't have radon, that's great--it didn't cost you much to find out and you don't have to worry about it. If you do have radon, you will know and you can address the problem and move on with your life, knowing that you have eliminated at least one substantial hazard from your life.
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.
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.