Thursday, March 13, 2014

Radon and Real Estate: What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know About Radon Tests and Mitigation

Radon. It's just five letters, but this little word can terrify home buyers and sellers alike. The presence of radon in a property is no laughing matter; however, neither is it the end of the world. Yes, radon is an odorless, invisible, carcinogenic gas. Yet, it doesn't have to make a home uninhabitable or drastically reduce its value. When it comes to radon and real estate there are a lot of myths and half-truths out there, so don't believe everything you hear. This is what you need to know, whether you're looking to buy or sell, about radon tests, radon mitigation, and the real estate market.

For Sellers

Start by having a radon test done before you put your house on the market. That way you won't end up surprised by results when a sale is pending. If the radon testing process turns up concentrations of more than 4 pCi/L (the EPA's recommended threshold for unsafe levels), you need to put in a radon system. This not only helps keep you and your family safe in the time you continue to live in the property, but it also removes a potential hurdle to a sale. If the test turns up a lower level of radon, you may still want to investigate putting in a radon mitigation fan as the EPA reports that there is no known safe level of radon exposure. Keep in mind that properties with the lowest levels of radon--thus the safest in terms of this gas--are the homes with abatement equipment installed.

In fact, your best bet is to approach your radon mitigation system as an asset, rather than a liability. Especially if your property is located in an area of the country that is known to have high radon levels (EPA red zones), you may even want to advertise that your home has a radon abatement system. If you take the angle that your property has this additional feature that others may not, buyers, too, will see the radon mitigation fan as a pro rather than a con.

For Buyers

It's the perfect house: spacious kitchen, updated bathrooms, plenty of bedrooms... But when they see that radon mitigation system, many prospective buyers bolt. However, there's nothing to be afraid of. As mentioned above, homes with radon abatement systems are actually SAFER than homes without. So don't just run when you see that a property has a radon system already installed. Just like you wouldn't buy any old house just because it didn't have a radon system, all things being equal, you also shouldn't nix a property just because it does!

If you're interested in a home, and it doesn't currently have radon mitigation system, you'll definitely want to have a radon test performed. In fact, many savvy buyers make a clean radon test a stipulation of the contract, creating a starting point for negotiating with the owners if abatement is necessary.

In short, whether you're buying or selling a property, it's important to have a radon test done. Radon mitigation systems can ensure that your home--and your family--is safe and sound, making them an asset rather than something to fear.

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