Radon. An odorless, colorless gas which is linked to lung cancer is found in many homes. It is naturally occurring. We all may have grown up in homes with the gas present. Search the interwebs and you will find many articles about it and the harmful health effects.
Radon is present throughout central Pennsylvania. If you click here, you will find a web page specific to Pennsylvania concerning radon.
Here is where radon inserts itself into real estate deals. A homeowner, living in the home for many years decides to sell their home. Their home was never tested for radon and they have never considered this issue when they go to sell it. A buyer comes along and makes an offer on the home and a deal is struck. Inspections are ordered to verify the home’s condition, and among the tests for pests and what-not is a test for the presence of radon.
If radon is found to be above the level of 4 pc/l (that’s 4 picocuries per liter) then it is recommended that you get a radon mitigation system to reduce the levels below the standard of 4.
And that is going to cost. The amount is going to depend on the size of the home, the ease of installing the system and a variety of other factor such as whether you have a full basement and if there are any areas which are not sealed (such as a dirt floor under a room adjacent to a basement). I am not the expert here, just familiar with these issues as they relate to real estate transactions.
Nobody wants to pay for it.
The seller doesn’t want to pay because they agreed to their ‘bottom dollar’ when they accepted the offer from the buyer. The buyer doesn’t want to pay because they offered their ‘top dollar’ for a home they thought was in good condition.
And now the stalemate. Nobody wants to move. I see it from both sides. It is a tough situation. The burden shifts more to the seller in this situation because now they have a home that has a ‘defect’. This previously unknown, undiscovered defect amounts to something which should be remedied for the current occupants and for the buyer.
Heard from many sellers in a real estate transaction- “I am not paying for a radon system, the buyer can pound sand”. I get it. This is frustrating.
But the seller needs the buyer to buy the house. The seller usually has their eye on another property, bigger or smaller, more or less expensive, to suit their changing needs.
We have to get the deal done.
So if you are a seller, it is a good idea to approach this situation with eyes wide open. You may have radon that you didn’t know you had. You could test for it now, or just budget for a system which could cost $900-$1800 typically. It might be better to test and fix before you list your house for sale. If radon is present, it is affecting your health now, whether you sell or not.
Once you determine there is radon during the inspection process of a sale, you are now required to disclose this information to other potential buyers. This is the reason that sellers typically ‘fix’ the radon once it is discovered. Remember that ‘Sellers Property Disclosure’ you filled out when you listed your house for sale? You will need to update that document with the results and what you did (or not) to fix it.
Photo credit thebunnymaker on flickr.com
Adam Conrad is the broker/owner of Perry Wellington Realty, a regional 4 location real estate brokerage. Adam is the Director of Education for Advance Academy, a real estate school. Adam is a part time lecturer at Pennsylvania State University and part time faculty for Saint Francis University. You can reach him via email here or at Advance Academy.