Many locations require home sellers to sign a radon disclosure form before they sell their homes. This disclosure informs prospective buyers whether or not the sellers know of any higher than acceptable radon levels in their homes. It is important for both sellers and buyers to understand how radon plays an integral part in the real estate transaction process.
What is Radon?
Simply put, radon can be a lung cancer-causing gas. According to the section about Radon on the epa.gov website, "Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium, which are radioactive metals break down in rocks, soil and groundwater. People can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing radon in air that comes through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes." Radon can be anywhere and everywhere. It is found in the indoor air of buildings and homes as well as the air outdoors.
What is the EPA's Action Level for Radon in a Home?
The EPA recommends that homes be mitigated if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or higher. Also, from the EPA website, "Because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon, EPA also recommends that Americans consider fixing their home for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 p/Ci/L." The website cites, "The average indoor radon concentration for America's homes is about 1.3 pCi/L." The EPA estimates that there are 21,000 radon-related cases of lung cancer per year.
Have a Radon Test Performed
You should have your home tested for radon if it hasn't been already even if you aren't selling your home. If you plan on selling your home, you should consider having it tested for radon beforehand. This way, if your home has action levels of radon, you can have it mitigated as radon is a huge red flag for buyers. As a seller, if you show potential buyers that your home has tested below action levels for radon, you will build trust and respect immediately. Sellers who do this may retain higher home values as well. If you do not wish to spend the money on a radon test, your buyer will almost certainly have one performed. Real estate agents have a fiduciary responsibility to their buyers to advise that they have a radon test performed on any house they purchase. Many people think that you only need a radon test if the home has a basement. This is simply not true.
What Happens if Radon is Found in a Home?
If radon is found in a home that is above acceptable levels, you'll need to have your home fixed, or mitigated, for radon. Another article from epa.gov, Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction How to Fix Your Home discusses how to go about selecting a radon mitigation contractor and radon reduction techniques that work. It is important to note that you will need a qualified, professional radon mitigation contractor to fix the radon levels. This cannot be done yourself. If you are a home seller and you are aware of higher than acceptable levels of radon in your home, you will be legally required to disclose this information. Most home buyers will not purchase homes unless the sellers have radon mitigated if it exists at action levels. In fact, many mortgage companies are now requiring radon to be mitigated before they will give a clear to close on homes that have tested at action levels for radon.
The bottom line is that radon plays an important role in the success of a real estate transaction. As a homeowner it is also beneficial to your health and well-being to ensure radon levels in your home are lower than action level. Sellers who convey their homes with acceptable levels of radon to buyers are sure to have higher home values than homes with actionable level of radon.