Should high radon be a deal breaker?

Asked by lovelyinred11, Bucks County, PA Wed Dec 5, 2012

We found a home we liked, needs some TLC but it seemed like the perfect place to start our lives together. However, we had it tested for radon and it came back at 9.6 pCi/L and it really isn't supposed to go over 4.0 pCi/L, this finding freaked me out and we were considering not buying the home. The fear of it always coming back and using us cancer... our safety is more important. What would you do? Our realtor is trying his best to make both the sellers and us happy.

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Frank Dolski, Agent, Lahaska, PA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
In my professional opinion, you as the buyer just want to make sure that the radon is remediated. Know that the costs varies from $700-1400 but I find a typical cost of around $800. If the home is prepped for a system, it could cost as little as $250. It is a negotiable item during the inspection contingency period that should be addressed. Both sellers and buyers should be able to work this out with your Realtor's help. Know this as well. if you feel that you are getting a great deal, the sellers may not be willing to install a system In any case, this should never be the deciding factor to break a deal. I hope that this helps!

Frank Dolski MBA, ABR, e-PRO
Associate Broker
2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award Recipient
CARTUS & SIRVA Certified Relocation Specialist
Previews Luxury Home Specialist
Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
215-803-3237 (mobile)
215-794-1070 x-103
0 votes
Brian Luce, Agent, New Hope, PA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
Here's another point of view that may ease your mind.

I'll start by saying that I HAVE a Radon Remediation system in my home - (the level was 38pCi/L). I ALWAYS advise my clients that levels over the "minimum" be taken care of. I ALSO HAVE a Continuous Radon Monitor in my home and when my fan was off during some repairs in the basement, I can document my radon levels ranging from 1 pCi/L to 9 pCi/L for the 7 months it was disconnected. The level does fluctuate depending on time of year, weather, temp and numerous other factors etc.)

The systems are pretty inexpensive so I feel they are worth it , and if they give a person piece of mind, all the better..

However, after working with an Industrial Hygenist years ago, he did open my eyes to radon levels, how they are tested, (the flawed "cancer risks" , and "minimum acceptable level from the EPA" etc).

You can do a quick search for "Radon Myths" and dig up some really good info that my ease your mind a bit as well such as the info at this link:

In the end, having a system installed certainly could not hurt and may be a good idea especially if it gives you piece of mind. Since every circumstance is different, it certainly could do no harm.

I'd thought I'd pass that along since I've always been interested in science, radon, previous engineering background etc. There is some interesting info out there.

Good luck with your home, a home purchase is an exciting time in your lives. Don't let a remediation system stop you if the home is otherwise a perfect fit.

2 votes
Benny Smith, Agent, Pittsburgh, PA
Sat Dec 22, 2012
I would also be concerned. The cost of mitigation is often handled by the seller and I have yet to see one not keep levels below the recommended level of 4.0.pCi/L. For your peace of mind do some more research and look at the increased risk of cancer from this as compared to your household chemicals. breathing the chemicals in the local air in Bucks County, Danger is all around us. At least this one can be controlled. Best of luck in your search Benny Smith
0 votes
My NC Homes…, Agent, Chapel Hill, NC
Fri Dec 21, 2012
Unless the Sellers are willing to pay for remediation you should walk away from this house.
Remediation will likely cost between $2500 - $4000.

If you're using the listing broker as your broker this is your first mistake, they don't care about you or the seller all their concerned about is the commission.

I've attached a link below on how to find yourselves a good buyer broker, if you do terminate your offer.

Good luck and happy holidays.
0 votes
"If you're using the listing broker as your broker this is your first mistake"
Yes indeed - get your own broker and if you can afford it a real estate lawyer to follow every step of the deal. I have purchased 5 homes in my life and two out of the five I got skinned alive. Maybe the new agents have good intentions, but IME most are are totally untrustworthy and ONLY care about the commission. Also, BEWARE of the inspector. In some neighborhoods the realtors and inspectors know each other even if they live a couple towns away. Even if they don't I would be very weary of the inspector. I am in a dispute right now with a house I bought a year ago with the inspector. But don't trust of let the realtor push a closing date on you. IMO they are not to be trusted at all. Good Luck
Flag Thu Dec 29, 2016
Not true!!! Some of us go to GREAT lengths to follow the golden rule and treat others as we want to be treated! I am MOST concerned about my reputation and THAT has made me successful! I treat my clients as family. Shame on you for making such generalized and malicious statements!
Flag Sun Feb 24, 2013
Gita Bantwal, Agent, Jamison, PA
Fri Dec 21, 2012
Depending on your agreement of sale you can probably request the sellers to have radon remediation paid by the sellers. If your contract allows you to cancel the contract, and you cancel, there is no guarantee that the next house you see will not have high level of radon. and that if you buy a house with low level that in a few years the level may not increase. Read as much as you can about radon and talk to a person who does radon remediation for information . If you do get it remediated make sure you monitor the levels regularly to see that it is at safe levels.
0 votes
Benny Smith, Agent, Pittsburgh, PA
Thu Dec 6, 2012
If you are living and working in western PA then you are subject to Radon exposure. Have you had your current home tested, or your work? Same goes for lead based paints, asbestos, and a long lest of hazardous substances found under most kitchen sinks. I recommend you look around every home and make common sense changes. If there are chemicals under the sink that can kill if ingested move them to a safe storage locker. Known lead base paint or radon you should take the recommended steps to reduce your families exposure to the toxic effects but don't freak out. These substances are a fact of life in our world. Radon is one we can mitigate for under $1,000 in most cases. We should be so lucky with the lead based paints and asbestos in many of our children s schools.
0 votes
Terry Farnsw…, Agent, Lisle, IL
Wed Dec 5, 2012
Radon is not a deal-breaker - however you'll need to get the problem remedied. This can be done by installing a radon mitigation system. Basically, this is a fan that exhausts the sub-slab air to the outside, depressurizing the soil around your foundation, thereby reducing radon levels. The other option is mechanical ventilation, which constantly "sucks" the radon-laden air out of your home. I had a client who installed the latter, and it's been working great. The only issue is the fact that for it to work, you have to always have it on - which will raise your electric bill slightly. Small price to pay for getting a cancer-causing gas out of your home, however.

I don't know all the details of your situation/contract, but generally, you have two options:

1. Ask the seller to install a system, or ask for a credit at closing to cover the cost of mitigating the issue yourself. They may or may not agree to this.

2. Pay for the cost of the system/installation yourself.

Typically, the cost of a system like this is around $800-$1500 installed, depending on the complexity of the one you choose. Hope this helps and good luck!
0 votes
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