Can Radon even if mitigated with a radon removal system hurt the resale of your home??

Asked by Jessica, Missouri Thu Aug 14, 2008

We ar still in the inspections process still on a house we have a contract on and are bracing ourselves to be ready to make a decision.. If the radon level is high then should we mediate it or get out of the contract? I think from my resarch that remediation does help greatly and greatly reduces any health risk but are buyers still scared to buy? I know many people are not educated on radon- I wasn't until recently and at first I was ready to bolt at a high level finding. We had a contract on another house that we got out of because it has multiple issues including high radon levels and the sellers wouldn't fix any so we signed a mutual release. Both have been basment homes in an area where radon levels are generally between .05-2 to 2-4 with the exceptions of some homes that are around 4-8 and higher. This would be the second home we have found with higher levels- we don't undrstand why but just want to know if remediation does work well and if the property will sell ok? Thanks.

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Daniel, Both Buyer And Seller, Saint Louis, MO
Thu Aug 14, 2008
Just my quick experience. When we bought our home in Michigan, Radon came back high. I had no clue what it was. The sellers (a relocation company) handled all of the mitigation. I forgot where the numbers were (thinking around 5-6 or so), but the system had it down at .5 or something after it was put in. We then just sold our house a few months back and it sold in a week. We never heard any feedback from the 15 or so showings we had that it would be an issue. In fact it lowers the Radon so low, that it would probably be a positive. The only negative I can think of is the exterior venting pipe. Depending on where it is placed could detract from the exterior a bit.
2 votes
Trisha Lee, Agent, Columbia, MO
Thu Aug 14, 2008
Jessica -
I have never had a buyer back out of purchasing a property because a radon system was in place.

My board of REALTORS (Columbia) brought a gentleman from the EPA to teach a class about radon that I took several years ago. The 8 hour class boiled down to this...radon is everywhere and you are exposed to it every day or your life. You can't smell, taste, see or touch it so the only way to know the level is to test. If it's high, remediate and move on. I encourage my buyers to have the test done as a positive thing. If it comes back low, you have peace of mind. If it comes back high, the SELLER has to pay to fix it or you walk away. Either way, when you go to sell, it's a sales tool that you tested and it wasn't there in a high level so you're good, or the problem is fixed so you're good. It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned. If you didn't test, had your children play for years in a basement playroom, then found out you had a high radon would you feel. The research shows it takes years of higher level exposure to cause cancer but why take that chance?

The EPA gentleman said there also was no measurable rhyme or reason as to why one house tests high and the house next door doesn't soyou can't second guess the stuff.

Hope this helps. I actually had my personal home tested back in the early 80's in Toledo, Ohio when practically no one had heard of radon. I did it because I had an in ground basement with 2 sump crocks and figured if ever there was a basement subject to radon.....that would be it. My level was extremely low. Go figure. But if it HAD come back high I definitely would have remediated and considered it a plus to keep my children safe.

Good luck with your decision. Remediation DOES work and in my experience does NOT affect the sales potential of a property.
Trisha Lee
REMAX Boone Realty, Columbia, MO
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1 vote
Once Radon is mitigated can it come back.
Flag Sat Nov 12, 2016
Tim S., , Colorado Springs, CO
Fri Oct 17, 2008
Despite a small percentage of situations that may pose some unforeseen unique challenge, it's fairly safe to say "All radon problems are solvable".

Homes with a properly installed system are typically far lower in Radon levels than are the neighboring homes.

Systems should come with a written contract and guarantee to lower levels or installer will come back. We Do!

The area I live and work in is Colorado Springs / El Paso County. A good majority of homes, buildings and schools here are elevated in this region.

With proper testing and diagnostics with specialized equipment, a good system can be installed to safely and quietly lower levels of Radon.

The last few we have done lowered the levels below 1 pci/l. I try not to guarantee that I can get levels this low... the proof is in the pudding. :-)

With a region like ours, I think the mitigation system is a plus, you are buying a home that should have the lowest levels of this odorless, tasteless invisible product that poses the largest risk of lung cancer in non-smokers.

All homes should be tested during a resale or similar Real Estate transaction. Just to be sure.

Systems that are installed and working correctly should still be checked every 2 years or at times of building alteration, addition etc.

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0 votes
Dale Weir, Agent, Chesterfield, MO
Thu Aug 14, 2008
I have had a few buyers in the St Louis area who used mitigated radon as an excuse to not buy a home, but they would have used something else if the home hadn't had the radon. In general if the home has been mitigated and the system is in place, it is a positive because it shows that it has been dealt with and that future buyers don't need to have it tested, they can look at the meter and see what is going on and the systems will have a warranty with them.

The sellers typically take care of radon right away because if they don't , they have to declare it on their seller's disclosure and the next person is going to ask for it anyway so unless it's going into a short sale or a foreclosure, it's pretty much an automatic like a termite treatment for the seller to take care of when it's found. I think it's a plus to have it done since then it takes the question out of the buyers mind (St Louis is in a high radon area)
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0 votes
Benjaminday, , Colorado Springs, CO
Thu Aug 14, 2008
I live in one of the more irradiated parts of America, El Paso County where our countywide average score in residences is in excess of 4.00 picocuries/litre, where indicates a responsible individual needs to take action.

For the most part, the real estate community in Colorado Springs is pretty well informed about it, and as a general rule of thumb, I tell buyers to test for it ($125) during their inspection period, no matter where the home is, what kind of home (condo), anything. The rule seems to be more aggressive, not less aggressive, and I would not rule out a day in the future when it is a disclosure nationally and treated like Lead-Based Paint.

Saying that, your question is about resale. What is totally amazing to me is that while Colorado Springs is fairly conservative, we are extremely progressive in dealing with Radon. It's everywhere, you can mitigate it to a "safer" level, move on with life. A $1200 repair is usually less than 1% for dealing with something the EPA claims is the 2nd leading cause of lung-cancer in the US.

But in Summit County (like Breckenridge and Keystone, where it can be really high) the agents I've met treat it like no big deal and may disparage someone taking action. Same thing throughout parts of Metro Denver. There are people who will say "well, the other homes in the neighborhood don't have a system... is n't that a defect unique to that house?" The logic is okay on the surface. Deeper down, the reality is: have any of these other people tested for it? Did their inspector scoff about it because they didn't have Radon training? Did someone bring up the fact that the threshold is much higher in Canada? Or lower in Sweden? Is the house in Canada or Sweden?

It's one of the crazier things out there, and I think you as the buyer are in the driver's seat. This is the time to get the present owner's cooperation in making remedy. Hard to do that after you close. But I think for your peace of mind you can consider a county like El Paso County Colorado, home to a half million people. and our average score (according to both UCCS Chemistry Lab which does most real estate Radon tests and El Paso County Health Department) is in excess of the EPA level and what you are finding in the home you're buying. In fact, what you're finding is low by our standards! But we deal with it, we move on, and most homes around here have habitable basements.

A really good idea would be to ask for an extension of a couple of days in the inspection period to get written bids by one to two EPA-qualified/certified professionals. Evaluate how much of a visual eyesore they need to create to get rid of the problem. That's really the biggest concern. Most systems can be put in a discreet location, and since it does it's job, it really moves on to an "out of site, out of mind" reality.

The one thing I would disagree with in the previous comments is the pocket incidence. Yes, some areas generally have higher radon, but that doesn't mean you only search for it in some neighborhoods or that there is any consistency to the scores within neighborhoods. We see 800% variances on the west side all the time (3 in one home, 24 in the next, 56 in the next, 5 in the next, all perfect tests). We have a neighborhood out east built on sand which around here usually does not have any radon. I still have tests done because the fill dirt for some homes (not all, just a few) came from the west side of town, which is all the shoulders of Pikes Peak, which is all granite, and granite has uranium which decomposes to radium which decomposes to radon. No joke, the non-native west side fill dirt imported radon around the foundations of some homes thirty miles east. So you never know. The houses are fine, and once a mitigation system is put on, the air quality is probably better than most other homes.
0 votes
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Thu Aug 14, 2008
Once remediation most buyers are not concerned. Radon is a gas is common in some area's and most of those homes have remediation systems in place, if you are buying a home with a level that os 4.0 or above, have them remediate.. the cost is about $1600 (here in NJ)

If one house in an area has a high level.. then there are probably quite a few more in the area.. remediation solves the problem. As I understand it, there are "pocket areas" that have Radon and some do not.. I think it has to do with the soil in some areas... and when it rains a lot.. the rain pushes down on the soil and the gas comes up... but research it a bit.

I have not emcountered a buyer that has backed out of a deal becasue of radon. When I take a listing, I do tell my clients .. you can say "as-is" except for Strucutural damage, termites and radon as you would have to remdiate all of these if you were to stay in the house anyway.

good luck
0 votes
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