Specifics for Contingencies
Radon is Not a Cause for Alarm
Information for Real Estate Professionals
Test the home. If the radon is higher than recommended, take comfort that it can be fixed-even after you take possession.
Radon testing is simple. Here is a common approach:
Find the house you want to buy.
- As part of the home inspection process, request a short-term radon test, using a qualified radon measurement professional. Your home inspector may or may not be qualified to conduct radon testing.
- If the short-term test result is less than 4.0 pCi/L, the EPA would not recommend any follow-up action, although there is still some risk from radon exposures less than 4.0 pCi/L.
- If the short-term test result is 4.0 pCi/L or higher, then consider asking the seller to fix it, or consider purchasing the home and performing a long-term test to determine the actual average exposure.
- If mitigation is needed, seek bids from qualified contractors who are willing to guarantee results and provide a warranty.
- Request that contractors' bids specify whether the radon will be mitigated before or after the buyer takes possession of the property. Bids can be used as a basis for negotiations or even to establish escrow funds that can be used to mitigate the house later, if elevated levels are confirmed.
SPECIFICS FOR CONTINGENCIES
Both Buyers and Sellers Should Be Specific When Contingencies Are Written:
- Who will perform the test and how will the test be conducted?
- What is an acceptable radon reading?
- Will short-term results satisfy client?
- Will mitigation be acceptable if elevated levels are found?
- Who, and how, will the test be performed?
- Who will pay for mitigation?
- How will mitigation results be verified?
- All radon tests will show some amount of radon.
The question is not if, but how much radon will be found in a properly tested home.
- At the time the initial contingency is written, it may be prudent to discuss whether radon mitigation will be an acceptable option.
Remember that radon mitigation can be reliable and long-term, with benefits beyond radon reduction.
- A test can be suspect if not performed by a radon measurement professional or conscientious homeowner.
Recommend that the test be done by a nationally certified professional.
- The cost of a radon mitigation system is based more on aesthetics than on radon readings.
A system contracted by the seller may not be as attractive as the buyer would like, or as energy efficient.
Real Estate Professionals, Homeowners and Homebuyers will want to obtain all the specific information about the property. When it comes to radon concerns, these items should include:
- General information about radon
- Radon test results, if known
- Names and telephone numbers of federal and state radon professionals
RADON IS NOT A CAUSE FOR ALARM
In a residential purchase and sale transaction, radon can cause concern, but it should never cause alarm.
- In regard to a health concern, there is really no such thing as a "radon emergency." Any risk from radon in Arizona homes accrues over extended periods of several years, not weeks or months.
- Radon problems can be both readily detected and reliably fixed.
- The cost of fixing residential radon problems is similar to fixing a bad roof or a sagging foundation.
- People are generally aware of radon and will act rationally in the face of a radon problem if they are provided accurate information about practical remedies available.
INFORMATION FOR REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS
Prudent Real Estate Professional Should Know and Understand:
- Radon basics -- the guidance provide in the "Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide" (see Resources) and the Arizona "Point of Sale Booklet", plus testing and mitigation information available at this site.
- The best role for agents and brokers to play is that of information provider. Real estate professionals should be comfortable providing booklets and materials that will help their clients and colleagues make informed decisions.
- Radon experts in government agencies and the private sector can help address complex or unusual radon questions. Up-to-date contact information, kept handy on file, can save valuable time.
- Technical radon advice should be obtained from a trained expert or qualified radon contractor. In general, real estate professionals should not give such advice, particularly regarding the need for radon testing, device placement, test interpretation and mitigation.
- Early disclosure to both buyers and sellers provides time to learn about radon and, if necessary, do something about it. Problems are much more likely to arise if, late in the transaction, a radon problem is suspected. Of course, if the home has been tested for radon or already has a radon mitigation system installed, the buyer should be informed. (See Disclosure Section)
- When contingencies are written in regard to radon, general references such as "contingent upon a radon test" should be avoided. It is better to cite specific criteria for acceptable results, such as the EPA recommended action level of 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (4.0 pCi/L). It may also be prudent to decide whether mitigation is an acceptable solution if needed, even before testing is conducted.
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