How To Look At A House
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Should homeowners get a pre-listing radon test before selling their home?
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind cigarette smoking, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that every homeowner test for the possibility of dangerously high levels of radon in their home. But, what if you have never tested your home and are now about to put it up for sale? Should you be concerned that a buyer’s radon test will indicate a high radon level that could derail the sale, and get your own pre-listing radon test to head off the problem?
We don’t recommend it, and the reason is that less than 20% of the homebuyers in our market opt to get a radon test during their contractual inspection period. Although radon testing is recommended for homebuyers, most don’t do it. So, if you do a pre-listing test and it comes back at 4.0 pico-curies per liter of air or higher, which is the level at which the EPA recommends remediation, you have only two options: disclose the high radon level because it materially affects the value of your home and requires disclosure, or spend $2,500 to $5,000 for a radon remediation installation.
The cost of the worst case scenario if you don’t do you your own test is the same as if you do the test; but there is a good possibility that it won’t be an issue that the buyers are concerned about—which is unfortunate, because they should be. So, the bottom line is this: definitely test your home if you are concerned about the radon risk to your family’s health, but it’s probably not a good idea to test for radon as part of any preparations to put your home on the market.
A pre-listing general home inspection by a reputable local home inspector, however, is a good way to find and repair any problems with the home that you are unaware of which might hold up the closing, and assure that the buyers get a satisfactory report from their inspector. Most realtors recommend getting one, but say no to doing any further inspections or tests. “I would give the same answer for a pre-listing lead-based paint test for an older house,” says local realtor Chris Handy, of Bosshardt Realty. “If you have lived there in good faith, there’s no reason to add potential liability to your sale. Imagine the intricacies and permutations if we became obsessive, such as a pre-listing soil boring, pre-listing pollen count test in a wooded lot, and testing water samples—whether on city water or well water.”
Also, see our blog post How can not testing for radon be an expensive mistake for homebuyers?
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