Real estate is all about location, location, location – and in more ways than one. As scientific research grows more sophisticated about naturally occurring toxins that are harmful to people’s health in large doses, what's in the soil beneath your home becomes an important part of that location concern as well.
Radon is one gas gaining significant attention in real estate transactions, as the National Radon Safety Board estimates nearly 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. have elevated radon levels – above the federally recommended 4 picocuries per liter of air, a unit of measurement for radioactivity.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends all homeowners test their home’s radon level, as radon is now reported as the second leading cause of lung cancer in Americans, after smoking. As awareness of the dangers of radon exposure increases, the EPA also advises testing a home's radon levels before buying or selling it.
For Portland native Kate McCabe, moving from a home hooked into the public water system to one with a private well was as much about having safe drinking water as it was about expanding the space for her growing family. So when the inspector for the house she and her husband planned to buy in North Yarmouth recommended thorough testing of the air and water, McCabe, who has a 2-year-old and another baby on the way, readily agreed. And she's glad she did. The test results showed extremely high air and water radon and water uranium readings, and she almost backed out of the deal.
"I tried to talk to as many people as I could as fast as I could," says McCabe, 35. "I called at least 10 different companies." She decided to negotiate with the sellers to pay for air and water mitigation systems, and after they agreed to pay the nearly $18,000 expense, she agreed to the sale and plans to move in toward the end of September, after the systems are installed.
Lisa Loper, member of the Scott Loper Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Harleysville discusses why homebuyers should test for radon and how Montgomery County stacks up compared to neighboring counties
Besides a general home inspection and a termite inspection, the next most common test performed by homebuyers is a radon test. It is a simple test where the air quality is measured for the span of 2-3 days (longer term tests are available). The cost typically runs between $100 and $125 and it is money well spent.
Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and can get into your home through cracks or other holes in the foundation (even if you don’t have a basement). Your home can trap and accumulate radon causing the levels to be elevated within your home.
A home inspection often means the difference between a sale and no sale, even if the deal that results isn't exactly what the owner expected.
Buyers and sellers typically recognize the need for a home inspection. Still, it may put both sides of a sale on edge.
Sellers fear the inspector will find something amiss that slashes the price. Buyers fear the house they want will have problems.
Today, with so many houses for sale, inspections have become the chief tool for haggling over price.
"We are a coupon-clipping society," with people trying to save every penny they can, said Noelle Barbone, manager of Weichert Realtors' Media, Pa., office. "Real estate is no different."
Though he isn't always aware how the negotiations proceed after his work is done, Harris Gross, of Engineers for Home Inspection in Cherry Hill, N.J., said buyers were more apt to use an inspection report as leverage in this lean housing market than in the boom.
Watch this news segment.
ROANOKE - "It's a concern," said Sherry Greene. "You want your children to be safe and you want to be safe."
That's why Greene has a radon ventilation system in her home.
Her family moved in about six years ago.
She says the system had already been installed.
"It's nice to know it's already in place. It's taking that out -- if it's here."
But, not everyone is taking the same precautions.
George Fardell, the owner of RADON Safe in Roanoke, says everyone should be concerned. "Sometimes it's too late. That's the problem. A lot of times, we get called to a home and a spouse has died of lung cancer, maybe never smoked."
Assembling the right team in a real estate transaction can often make the difference between getting your dream home and watching it slip through your fingers. Much like a well orchestrated team in the operating room, each of whom has a discrete role and executes it – hopefully – with precision, the right players in your real estate transaction can have a huge impact on success.
So who are the players and what do they do? Here’s a primer on the team that will help you pick a winning lineup in your next transaction.
Virtually every contract we write for homebuyers includes a Property Inspection Addendum. This addendum indicates what types of inspections the buyer would like to do and outlines how repairs, if necessary, are to be resolved between the buyer and the seller.
The Property Inspection Addendum is a bit like a takeout menu. Minimally, most buyers select a structural and mechanical inspection, which will permit them to examine all the major components found in most homes - things like the plumbing, electrical systems, heating and air conditioning, appliances and the home's basic condition. However, depending on the buyer's level of concern and the type of home being purchased, they might also select other items from the Property Inspection Addendum, such as mold or a chimney inspection.