Pat, Home Buyer in Edison, NJ

Radon mitigation system in house and seller says they cannot find their radon report

Asked by Pat, Edison, NJ Mon Jun 2, 2008

We like an old house in Berkeley Heights. It has a radon remediation device (pipe from basement to roof, pump near kitchen). It may have other mitigation. The owners chose not to disclose the radon results in their discloure, as is their right in NJ. Our realtor told them that this was the only thing preventing us from making an offer. But the owners replied that they cannot find the radon test results and the company that did the testing has destroyed the results after 5 years. They bought the house 6 years ago. They didn't mention if they have their inspection report.

We got no reply to our request for the radon history of the house, i.e. a ballpark estimate of any results (e.g. less than 2, 2 to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 16 or over 16).

They will allow us perform the test before making the offer at our expense. We like the house, otherwise we'd not be asking this question. Should we ask them to pay for the test - after all they've lost the paperwork. Any ideas?

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BEST ANSWER
Put your offer in contract form. The njar contracts typically used provide you the opportunity to do all your inspections and will lay out how things such as radon are handled. (I had a client who actually had contract revised so that seller would remediate to less than 2 pico litres) Inspections protect you and you should pay for them just as you will for title insurance and surveys. I wouldnt spend money doing testing until you have a contract binding upon both parties, what will you do if after testing and before contracting another buyer comes in and offers more? (I have witnessed this many times when buyers were reluctant to write contracts)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 3, 2008
Woo - really? - so does anyone think that answering a question from 2008 show current homebuyers anything other than you are just late to the game? That you don't pay attention to details?

If I saw an agent answer a question from 2008 today like it was new.. I would just figure they were from the era that does not understand todays technology and not the agent for me.

just my thoughts...
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
I would think the fact that you are commenting on in and in what projects in a negative light one would think you are not the agent for me.I just read all of the responses to use as a reference of thoughts on the matter.Why would you feel the need to degrade a responder like this.? Which is all you did in your response.
Flag Thu Sep 12, 2013
Pat

Read up on Radon with the EPA's Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon
http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/hmbyguid.html

Do your own test. If the levels are fine they are fine. If not the costs of improving or repairing the remediation system in place are probably not all that expensive.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
Pat,
Have an inspection done for your piece of mind. It's a small price to pay to get what you need.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
I would not rely on a radon result from 5 years ago, Radon is a gas from the ground and can change. I would make the offer and negotiate a price. As part of the contract you have an inspection contigency clause. This is when the radon test is performed. If you are not satisfied with the results and can not come to a mutual agreement about remediation you can cancel the contract at the time. Inspections are at the expense of the buyer and are an important part of the buying process.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
Hi Kim - New to Trulia? The Question was asked in June 2008!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 25, 2009
All home inspections are the responsibility of the buyer. Inspections are part of your due diligence, and give you the information you need to make an intelligent and informed offer on a home. It is money well-spent.
Web Reference: http://www.kimcarloto.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
As a former realestate agent and a professional radon remediator and HVAC contractor, Testing radon levels is like having a home inspection. It is to protect you the buyer. If you want the truth you pay for it, the results, good or bad can be used to your benefit. House needs new roof- take it off the price. Radon system in place, what was the installation date ? if over 5 years has the fan been replaced ? They are only warrantied for 5 years. If they don't have that paperwork, take the price of a fan off the price ($500.00 installed and warrantied) I Know all of these answers are too late for your purchase, but they may put your mind at ease.
Rob Mahoney
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 24, 2008
In response to the stats below on the number of people who get cancer per 4 picu/L vs. 2 picu/ L I did not find the same numbers on the epa website as you ,Pat. We are awaiting our radon results on a house we have a contract on the first readings were inconclusive as the variance was too great between them. One ws 3.4 and one was 5.5- both were placed in the house at the same time in the same location. I am doing research to see if we should mitigate or get out of the contract. I was very nervous about any radon at all but I am realizing it is everywhere just at different levels. There are no other major issues with the house. I was afraid about even low levels but I don't know if I will find a house with anything below 1 picu/L. After research it seems mitigation is very helpful and effective in removing the gas from the home. It also seems that other realtors that have left blogs do not feel it is a negative selling point- that was one of my BIGGEST concerns- as until I got educated more it scared me off. I found this chart on the epa site that I think you may find helpful for lung cancer risks both in smokers and those who have never smoked:


Radon Level If 1,000 people who smoked
were exposed to this level over a lifetime*... The risk of cancer from radon
exposure compares to**... WHAT TO DO:
Stop smoking and...
20 pCi/L About 260 people could get lung cancer 250 times the risk of drowning Fix your home
10 pCi/L About 150 people could get lung cancer 200 times the risk of dying in a home fire Fix your home
8 pCi/L About 120 people could get lung cancer 30 times the risk of dying in a fall Fix your home
4 pCi/L About 62 people could get lung cancer 5 times the risk of dying in a car crash Fix your home
2 pCi/L About 32 people could get lung cancer 6 times the risk of dying from poison Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L About 20 people could get lung cancer (Average indoor radon level) (Reducing radon
levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult.)
0.4 pCi/L About 3 people could get lung cancer (Average outdoor radon level)
Note: If you are a former smoker, your risk may be lower.
pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter)
* Lifetime risk of lung cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003).
** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Reports.

Radon Risk If You've Never Smoked

Radon Level If 1,000 people who never
smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*... The risk of cancer from radon
exposure compares to**... WHAT TO DO:
20 pCi/L About 36 people could get lung cancer 35 times the risk of drowning Fix your home
10 pCi/L About 18 people could get lung cancer 20 times the risk of dying in a home fire Fix your home
8 pCi/L About 15 people could get lung cancer 4 times the risk of dying in a fall Fix your home
4 pCi/L About 7 people could get lung cancer The risk of dying in a car crash Fix your home
2 pCi/L About 4 people could get lung cancer The risk of dying from poison Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L About 2 people could get lung cancer (Average indoor radon level) (Reducing radon levels below
2 pCi/L is difficult.)
0.4 pCi/L (Average outdoor radon level)
Note: If you are a former smoker, your risk may be higher.
pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter)
* Lifetime risk of lung cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003).
** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Reports
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 14, 2008
You will presumably be having your own inspection done, correct? Make sure the radon test is part of your inspection. If the house passes the radon test, there's no issue. If it does not pass, you negotiate with the seller just as you would for any other inspection issue. If the matter can't be resolved, since it's an inspection issue, you have the right to back out of the transaction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 8, 2008
What you should do is have the seller's contact the company that installed the remediation equipment and have them go over and show you where the equipment is and have them test it again so you can see what the current results are. I had this same situation 2 months ago. Absolutely have the seller's pay for that test.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 6, 2008
If the home already has a remediation system, it should keep the levels well below 4pico curies. So what is the issue? It really is irrelevant what the original reading was--if a system is now in place, it should have solved the problem. Just test again for your own piece of mind. It is not uncommon for homes in the area to have elevated levels--it is just important to remediate when necessary.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 5, 2008
I wouldn't rely on any test results that were 5-6 years old. You need current test results and estimates for remediaiton systems if needed.

Are you saying that because the seller cannot produce the reports, that you suspect ill intentions on their part?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 4, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
MVP'08
Contact
Thanks for the answers.

I mentioned that the owners couldn't find any paperwork and had no recall of the levels before or after remediation. Their house is the epitomy of order. Everyone I talked to has some qualitative idea of the number, e.g. well below 4 or barely above 4, and some had the actual numbers. So that aroused my suspicion.

Unfortunately NJ destroys the records after 5 years (and the remediation company too). The state of NJ requires that "the seller shall provide the buyer, at the time the contract of sale is entered into, with a copy of the results of that test and evidence of any subsequent mitigation or treatment". If they don't have it, what do you as realtor advise the seller to do?

Some respondents are under the mistaken belief that if you get a passing result (4pCi/L) that all is well. The EPA site that says to consider remediation at levels of 2-4. Why? At 4pCi/L the risk of lung cancer is 1 in 135. A little outside my comfort zone. At levels under 2, the risk is 1 in 270 or better. Hence my concern.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 4, 2008
Typically remeditation solves the problem. Have it tested. It is comon place for the buyer to have the house tested during the home inspection at your expense, not the seller.

As far as the owners, maybe they did not have it installed, maybe it came with the house, maybe they "chose" not to disclose is because they just don't know.

If a system is in place and working, what is the question?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 4, 2008
Should we ask them to pay for the test - after all they've lost the paperwork. Any ideas?
Yes certainly make the offer contingent on them providing test results, also call the company that did the test they have the report on file.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 4, 2008
If you love the house otherwise, you should just make an offer and put the radon test as a contingency. That way you'll only be paying for it if your offer is accepted and youre actually buying the house. This is pretty standard. Also, we just bought a house and had a mitigation system put in and for us at least, the system is guarenteed. So when we retest, if the results are still high, the company will come back and make changes until we are satisfied for free.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 4, 2008
Pat, Having a radon remediation sytem in place is actually a good thing, in that the radon levels are constantly regulated. Sometimes you test for radon, and the results will vary widely depending on the weather,season,and whether the basement is regularly aired out. So yes, you should test for radon as part of your normal home inspection process, and if the current system is not working properly, it should be repaired. But in my 17 years selling real estate, I have found the remediation systems to be very effective. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 4, 2008
Good point Kenneth, thanks for clarifying that important point. My answer was under the assumption that you were considering purchasing the home without having your own inspections performed wanting to reply on previous inspections done years ago by the current owner.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 3, 2008
Dear Pat,
You want to pay for the test, therefore you own the results from the testing, not the sellers. Hire your own person that you have good references on, and get the results. Once mitigation system is in, the results will be vastly different from before the system was installed. That is the point of the system.
Good Luck.
Sharon Kozinn
Web Reference: http://www.sharonkozinn.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 3, 2008
Pat, the previous sellers report will do you no good. If the device is present, it's obvious there was some reading in the previous test however the test should be redone. You don't want to rely on test results that old and perhaps from before a time the the device was installed or even after for that matter.

Radon is a gas which comes from decomposing radioactive rocks in a nutshell. This is why a simple device like a pvc pipe with an extremely week fan can remedy the problem. All it does is provide another path for the gas to flow with the least amount of resistance directly outdoors instead of into your basement.

A radon test is inexpensive and should be done.
Radon Professional Tested Approx. $135
Radon Self Test Canister Approx. $85

Just be sure when the test is being done that nobody opens the basement windows or doors. Any kind of airing out will render the test results useless since the carbon canister will not have a chance to absorb any contamination which may be in the air.

Good Luck, if you should have any questions feel free to ask.
If your not working with a realtor, feel free to call me and I'll be glad to work with you.

--
Victor Kaminski
Owner / Broker Manager
Marivic GMAC Real Estate
2056A Lincoln Hwy. (Rt.27)
Edison, NJ 08817-3330
Office: 732-650-9911 Ext.302
Cellular: 908-884-5757
Toll Free: 1-866-745-GMAC(4622) Ext.302
http://www.MarivicRealty.com
http://www.realrep.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 2, 2008
Pat,

Why would a seller pay for a test? You should be happy that they are being truthful. The cost for a test is minute and really comes with the territory when making a home purchase. Even with a reduction device in place I would be still concerned if it is working properly. That's why it is always best to have an independent test done by some YOU hire. This should be done with radon or any other test that would effect your heath or the potential value of the home YOU are going to purchase. If they would allow you to do the test prior to even making an offer thats great and reasonable.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 2, 2008
Please Keep Radiation Data in mind for ALL Radon Testing/ Removal, Basement Waterproofing & Mold Testing/Remediation. 1-888-RADON-GAS
http://WWW.RADIATIONDATA.COM
Flag Wed Feb 12, 2014
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