Small patch of disturbed asbestos. What to do?

Asked by Ethan Fox, Washington, PA Sun Oct 13, 2013

We have four days left of escrow. Our home inspector found a 1ft x 1ft disturbed patch of asbestos near a forced air heater on the upstairs floor. He specifically said water damage.

I'm not sure we have time to get this professionally evaluated. Asbestos is one of those freak out things, though we're not quite sure we want to take it to cancellation.

Anyone been through this? Any guesses on cost?

Is it worthy of a freak out? I know a few people remove the acoustic ceilings themselves and say to hell with asbestos. Is this a similar low exposure issue?

Thanks much!

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Cory La Scala’s answer
Cory La Scala, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Oct 13, 2013
Hi Ethan,

Is this a cash sale? Escrows for a purchase with a loan generally take 30 days or so, and inspection contingency periods are in the first half of escrow, with the inspection being done ASAP, the first day being optimal. Cash sale escrows can be much shorter, but still, nothing like this is found 4 days before the close of escrow generally. This is the time you'd be doing your final walk through and getting ready to wire your closing funds.

Since we don't know what your purchase agreement says, read that very carefully right now, then call your agent. Know what dates you need to beware of. If you are getting a loan and the lender requests a copy of the inspection report, they may not fund the loan with this type of health hazard present anyway. If you really want the home, get an asbestos abatement professional out there in the morning to do a more thorough inspection. You need to know what the costs could be for dealing with this.

Good luck.

Cory La Scala, REALTOR
Independence Realty
619-825-6421 Direct
619-884-3452 Cell
Lic # 01443391
0 votes
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Oct 13, 2013
Have your agent prepare an addendum that asks the seller to cover the cost of professionally remediating the disturbed asbestos. A small section like this should not be a huge problem or a huge cost, BUT it should be handled professionally. If necessary, have the funds held in escrow for after the close - keep in mind that this may be a problem for your lender - if you generate a paper trail, they may want it resolved prior to close of escrow. If the seller refuses to cover it, then you either cancel the transaction or proceed knowing that you will need to cover the cost.
0 votes
Dirk Cahaan, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Oct 13, 2013
Why did it take so long in the process to have the inspection, the home inspection should be done in the first few days to give time to deal with issues such as this. Depending on the size of the job, try to postpone the close for a few days while negotiating with the seller on paying for the removal. You are right, asbestos is not an overwhelming problem usually, however it IS definetly a concern and ignoring the problem or "handling it yourself" can create a huge problem by exposing more asbestos or not containing it properly and having the dust in your HVAC vents. It will eventually blow out but how much will be breathed in? Best just to step back and discuss with the seller, your Realtor and come to a resolution. There is too much money in house and health to go rushing in simply to get the transaction closed.
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