Who Pays for a Radon Mitigation System? The Buyer or Seller?
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Buying a new home involves paying attention to the details.
Radon is one of those details that are very important to be dealt with at some point during the home-buying process. Generally, the home inspection includes radon testing to measure the radon level in the inside air of the house.
Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas formed by the natural decay of uranium in rocks, soil, and water. Testing for radon is the only way to measure if it is present.
If radon is found to be present in high quantities in your home, you’ll need to come up with a radon mitigation plan to eliminate the radon inside your home.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), breathing in high amounts of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. Radon is not problematic if measured at 4 PCi/L or less. Still, homeowners should utilize a radon mitigation system and aim to have the lowest amounts of radon possible to protect their health.
So what is a radon mitigation system?
A radon mitigation system is a plan or series of steps put together to eliminate high levels of radon in the inside air of your home. This radon mitigation system may involve sealing open cracks between the ground and foundation of your home, sealing around PVC pipes, installing a manometer or fans, and rerouting radon flow around your home.
Radon mitigation systems can be an expensive process, but they are necessary for the health of everyone who lives in your home.
Does The Home Buyer or Seller Pay For a Radon Mitigation System?
Generally speaking, the seller usually takes care of radon mitigation.
Some states, like Colorado, have higher radon levels, which is why radon tests are required before giving the home over to the new owner. If radon tests show that radon levels are especially high, the results of the test must be disclosed to the potential buyer before the home is officially sold.
In some cases, the radon mitigation costs can be split between the home buyer and seller. Radon mitigation systems and retests can cost up to $800. There is no explicit law stating who is responsible for radon mitigation, and though the mitigation system is very important, it is rarely covered by the home insurance policy.
The type of radon mitigation system that is used is dependent on the way the house was built. Radon typically emanates from the ground, which means radon levels are often highest in crawl spaces or basements. However, radon should be measured in several areas of the home to ensure that the levels are not dangerous to inhabitants.
Radon mitigation most commonly comes up when a home is bought or sold. There should be a conversation between the buyer and seller about radon levels in the area and the home.
There are several options for how radon mitigation can be dealt with between the buyer and seller:
Option 1. The home buyer pays for the radon mitigation system after the home closes
If the seller did not disclose the radon levels of the home or the radon levels were previously at a passable level before the purchase was complete, then the radon mitigation system falls under the responsibility of the buyer.
The buyer can opt to call a radon mitigation specialist or utilize DIY systems to redirect the flow of radon to outside the home. It is always a safer bet to use a radon mitigation company to ensure the radon is being properly eradicated and redirected from your home. Some radon mitigation companies will also include retesting with their system installation to ensure the system is working.
Refer to EPA guidelines for specific details on how to lower radon levels throughout your home based on the home’s foundation.
Option 2. The home seller pays for the radon mitigation system before the home closes
If the buyer has asked to do a radon test and found radon levels to be higher than expected, then the buyer may request the seller to pay for the mitigation system.
Setting up a radon mitigation system before closing will improve the house’s value because it ensures the new homeowners will be protected from toxic radon levels.
The radon mitigation system should be completed before the home is closed to ensure that radon levels have been lowered to a healthy amount.
Who chooses the company?
If the home has been sold and is waiting to close, the buyer should choose the company used for home mitigation. The buyer can communicate with the seller about the company they would like to use, and the seller should pay for the system to be put in place.
Alternatively, the buyer and seller can come to an agreement about which company to use. Radon retests are strongly encouraged, especially over long periods of time, to ensure the mitigation system is working as planned.
In some cases, certain mitigation companies are more popular in certain areas because radon is a common problem in specific neighborhoods throughout the company. The seller may have a connection or another reason to utilize a specific company for the mitigation.
Option 3. The home seller provides an allowance or credit for the mitigation system at closing.
As a seller, you should be aware of the radon situation in your home before completing the selling process. After testing your home for radon, you are required to disclose the test results to any potential buyers.
If a radon mitigation system is needed, the seller can set up an allowance or credit to go toward the radon mitigation system that the new buyers will need to keep up with. Radon mitigation systems can cost up to $1000 if extensive work or processes are involved. The seller should contribute to these costs or the necessary retests by working out an allowance or credit system with the buyers.
Full or partial credit for installation costs
Every home will have different requirements for what will be needed to lower radon levels effectively.
The buyer can request a full credit for the installation costs if nothing has been done to start with the mitigation system. If some steps have already been taken, the buyer and seller may split the costs and the seller can give a partial credit for the remainder of the installation.
Long-term radon retests will also be required once the system is in place to ensure the radon levels are being lowered as planned. The seller is usually responsible for that duty, although there is no explicit rule saying so.
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Dealing with radon in your home can be time-consuming and frustrating, whether new or old. It’s unsafe to live in a home with high radon levels, which is why it is so important to have a radon mitigation plan.
Make sure you find out everything you need to know about radon and radon mitigation systems before opting to live in an area that may have high radon levels.
Should I get my home tested for radon before selling?
Yes, you should test your home for radon before selling so you can disclose that information to any potential buyers. If a radon test has been completed, you must disclose that information to any possible buyers. You can also detail all steps you have taken to reduce radon levels in the home and even use that information as a positive selling point for potential buyers.
This is especially true for anyone living in states that are proven to have high levels of radon, like Alaska, Colorado, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania. It’s common for certain areas to have higher averages of radon, which means buyers will likely already know to ask about radon levels and if any mitigation steps have been taken.
Should I buy a house that has high levels of radon?
If a house currently has radon levels exceeding 4 PCi/L, you should develop a system to lower the radon amounts in the home. Once a radon mitigation system is in effect and radon levels are lowered, it will be safe to live in the home.
If a home has had high radon levels in the past but has lower levels now, the home should be safe to live in. Radon levels fluctuate every day, which is why some radon tests will be done over a 90-day period. Short-term tests are done over a 48-hour period, but the longer tests offer a better picture of the radon situation for an area.
Does a radon mitigation system impact property values?
Radon mitigation systems do not negatively impact property values.
In areas where radon is common, radon mitigation systems will also be common. Radon is a naturally occurring gas present in various areas; it is not a reflection of poor land management or a bad environment.
In an area where there is a lot of radon present, potential homebuyers will likely know to ask about radon tests or request to have a radon test completed before moving forward with the buying process. If a radon test has already been completed and a mitigation system is in effect, this may be a positive selling point for the seller and will likely satisfy the buyer, too.
Is radon actually something to be concerned about?
Yes, radon can be extremely harmful if left unmitigated. If radon levels exceed the EPA standard of 4 PCi/L, the gas can become toxic for those inhaling it in the house.
The EPA has determined that even though the gas is invisible and odorless, it can contribute significantly to lung cancer if the levels exceed the EPA standard. The EPA has determined that up to 21,000 deaths occur every year due to excessive radon levels. This can be due to the fact that an average of 1 in every 15 homes in the U.S. may have radon levels that exceed a safe level.
It is very important to come up with a radon mitigation system to keep radon levels low in a home.
How much does a radon test cost?
There are two types of radon tests: short-term and long-term.
Short-term tests are done over a period of at least 48 hours to measure the levels of radon in an area. The tests often require being sent off to a laboratory for analysis and generally cost about $15 when purchased from a certified radon test kit seller.
Long-term tests take at least 90 days. You’ll be required to leave the testing device in the same location for 90 days so it can monitor how much radon is coming in and out of the area. Since radon levels fluctuate over time and may change from day to day, the long-term test kit offers a more accurate depiction of the radon levels in the home. Long-term kits generally cost around $25.
How much does a radon mitigation system cost?
Radon mitigation system costs vary from place to place because every home may require different features to lower radon levels effectively. Since radon travels up through the foundation of the home, it will depend on how the home is built to determine the most effective radon mitigation plan.
Some houses may only need to install a fan and seal some cracks that let air in from the outside to the inside of the house. Sealing open cracks will also help keep the house’s temperature stabilized by keeping conditioned air in and cold or warm air out.
Other houses may require the installation of PVC pipes to reroute the radon-infected air around the house instead of through it.
Radon mitigation systems can cost anywhere from $200-$5000, depending on what is required for the space.
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.