Monday, January 14, 2008

New Seller Disclosure Laws in effect regarding Radon

When the harmful affects of radon were first reported in the mid 90's, I'll admit most of my colleagues and I thought it was a bunch of bunk. After all, the definition of radon is something straight out of a Star Trek episode. According to Illinois Emergency Management Agency, radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that comes from naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Yeah, right. Unsafe concentrations of radon in the home are reported to cause harmful side affects including significantly increasing ones risk of lung cancer.

So this radon thing really started catching on, and within a few years of its discovery, Realtors were no longer willing to take the risk that we could be wrong. It then became standard practice to recommend radon inspections to all of our buyers.

The jury is still out on this issue somewhat, but the state of Illinois takes it pretty darn seriously. Effective January 1, 2008, all Sellers of residential real estate in the state of Illinois will need to complete a mandatory disclosure regarding radon in their home. The law does not require that sellers test for radon, nor does it require remediation if unsafe levels are found. But it does require that Sellers disclose the known presence of unsafe concentrations of radon in their home. It also requires that the Seller or their agent provide the buyer with a super scary pamphlet regarding radon. After reading these documents, no one in their right mind would refuse a radon test.

So, homeowners, if you are thinking of selling, you might want to consider having the test and mediation (if indicated) done now. At this point its pretty likely that buyers will be asking for radon tests in the homes they intend to purchase. There is an arguable advantage to having it done up front. Radon remediation systems start around $800. Feel free to contact me for further details.

5 comments: said...

I was told just about every basement in this area would test positive for radon because it's common in the soil in the Illinois. Do you know how true this is? I know HOI did a story on how to get rid of it. Does it stay out of the home once it's removed? Almost every realtor I've talked to says it's no big deal. You are the first to address this head on. Thanks!

Diane Vespa said...

I would estimate that in my experience roughly 20% of homes tested result in a radon level of over 4 picocuries, the level at which the EPA suggests remediation. There is no rhyme or reason or way to predict which homes will have it and which ones don't. I have been told that many factors can impact your radon level concentration.... the sump pump, the insulation, the grade of your lot. You can have 2 identical homes sitting right next to each other and one will test at 2 and the one next to it tests at 35. The radon level is no reflection whatsoever on the quality of construction of the dwelling or lack thereof. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs at random. The solution to an excessive level of radon is basically the installation of an exhaust system from the foundation all the way through the roof. That pretty much takes care of the problem..someone just has to cough up the dough for it. And that is sometimes when the buyers and sellers disagree. (The seller usually ends up paying since afterall it is their home!) Thanks for the question!

Kevin Lowe said...

Thanks for the info re: disclosure. That pamphlet IS scary. Hmm . . . colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. I guess there's no way to write about that without scaring people to death!

I feel like getting my house tested. But, perhaps ignorance is bliss.

Diane Vespa said...

Kevin, I'm sorry to say this is one time that ignorance is not bliss. Exposure to high concentrations of radon is as detrimental to your health as smoking. Early detection would minimize your risk of lung cancer. If children live in your home, or you spend any significant amount of time in your basement, I would suggest you get a radon test now. You can purchase a canister at Menards for like $20 bucks. Good luck, and thanks for your comments!

Anonymous said...

You can buy a test kit at Lowes like I did. Beware, I paid 15.00 for the kit, performed the test and mailed it off (paying extra to expedite the shipping). That was 6 months ago and I never heard a word. I suppose I will never know if I have high Radon levels...I am not wasting my money again.
Also, I work in surgery where we remove cancerous lungs. There is absolutely NO way of knowing what causes the cancer we remove. You can only ASSUME that if you don't smoke there is another reason. In a year or two, it will probably be something else, like the cotton in your underwear causing the cancer!!