Do You Really Need That Radon Test?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

The particles are tiny, and sub-micrscopic that can creep into houses.  And they are generally considered to be not good for your lungs. 

One of the contingencies in our local boiler plate contracts allows the buyers, if they choose, a few days to have a radon test done.  If they find radon, the buyers can ask the sellers to get rid of it.  If the sellers say no, the buyers have the option to walk away from the deal.

In this area, there's a fair amount of radon.  And only about half of the offers that I write have radon contingencies.  If you're buying a home, should you include the radon clause or skip it?

At yesterday's office meeting, John Swett of Radon Abatement Services here in DC gave a great presentation that made me take the whole radon thing a bit more seriously.

Whether or not you include the contingency in your offer should depend on whether you are the only offer on the table or in a multiple offer situation.  If you're the only offer, I'd say include the contignecy.  In a multiple situation, you may want as few contingencies as possible and decide to leave it off.

What are the consequences of omitting the radon clause?  If you do find radon later, you and not the seller will wind up paying for the remediation.  And according to John Swett, in the DC area (at least his firm) charge between $800 and $1200 to do the job. 

And while you may not really need the contingency, you really do need a test if you are buying in the DC Metro area.

And here are some pointers:

  • Never hire a radon remediation company to do your testing. 
  • If they find enough to warrent treatment, do not rely on the remediation company's test results - have them confirmed by an independent test.
  • Never rely on the seller's test result from when they bought the house.  The results can vary depending on factors like the season of the year and the amount of recent rain or snowfall when the test was run.

For more information on radon, you can check out the EPA's Citizen's Guide to Radon.




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Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Interesting. Our contracts allow for a 10 day inspection period to inspect for anything and everything that concerns the particular buyer. He can "look" for anything he is willing to pay for. Just a matter of how much he wants to spend.

Certainly not up to the seller, that's for sure.

Jul 27, 2011 04:19 PM #1
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I'll take your word for it. :)

Jul 27, 2011 04:25 PM #2
Scott Hayes
(512) 786-8300 - Austin, TX
Realty Austin, Broker Associate



We talk about radon in preparation for real estate tests, but very limited after that. Nice post about a subject that is often ignored


Jul 27, 2011 04:52 PM #3
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Patricia - we have it as standard disclosure, like mold, in our contracts, so I think we are covered. I thought this is standard everywhere, but looks like not

Jul 27, 2011 04:56 PM #4
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Patricia, I always have put the radon test contingencies in my offers - and you may be right, not the best in case of mulitple offer scenario.

Traditionally, the seller is expected to take care of this - but not necessarily true, though.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the radon test.

Jul 27, 2011 05:26 PM #5
Nina Rogoff
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Medfield, MA
Selling Norfolk County Homes

The home inspector who a lot of my clients use always offers this test. You're right, that relying on the results from one time period isn't sufficient. Just today, a client told me they put in a radon remediation system last year 4 years after they bought the home. They had tested at the time they bought and it was just at the recommended limits. Because they have young kids, and her home business targets young kids, they have retested periodically. Last year, the results were over the limits and they decided wisely, to install a remediation system. Good post, Pat!

Jul 27, 2011 06:01 PM #6
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
"Franklin MA Homes"

In our area, we expect to have a radon inspection with every home inspection.....there are computer readings now so there is no tampering with canisters.....if the results are over 4.0 the seller will install a radon system that might range from $900 to $1,200.....

Jul 27, 2011 08:50 PM #7
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Smart thinking Patriica.  Yes, it's always important to have an independent party do the testing.  Same thing for mold.

Jul 27, 2011 10:15 PM #8
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

A radon contingency should never cause the failure of a contract on a home the buyers really want.   The cost is inconsequential when compared to the risk.

Jul 27, 2011 10:37 PM #9
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating - Lynbrook, NY
MJ Decorators Workshop

Better be safe than sorry...

Jul 27, 2011 10:54 PM #10
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Pat, radon is a big issue in RI due to the way glaciers left the rocks that radiate it in some parts of the state & produces higher levels.  I always suggest my clients do the testing never makes or breaks a contract since it's about $900 for a system here too..

Jul 27, 2011 11:42 PM #11
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I had a client cancel a contract because the radon level my test determined was 4.1.

This is the same lady who did not have a cigarette out of her mouth for more than one minute during the inspection, not listening to any of us who asked her to put it out.

Jul 28, 2011 12:39 AM #12
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jon, around here, we usually do about a week.

Lenn, you are right about radon being a lame excuse for a contract to fail.  I try to set it up from the start as one of those issues that a smart homeowner deals with.  Back in the day, remediation could costs $15,000, mostly because they were just learning how to do it.  Today's fix costs are so much lower.

And Jay, I've heard that smokers are more prone to radon induced cancer than the rest of us, but who knows? 

Jul 28, 2011 01:21 AM #13
Paula McDonald
Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury - Granbury, TX
Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

I just read a report recently on this topic and the rise in lung cancer in non-smokers.  This got my attention as I suurvived a massive lung tumor and have never smoked and always wonder how this thing formed in my lung??  The article discussed the possible culprit as radon.  I will be interested to see what happens with this topic for sure.

Jul 28, 2011 01:36 AM #14
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

I always recommend a Radon test if any of the home is underground.

Rich Sent from my iPad

Jul 28, 2011 01:39 AM #15
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

Pat - We have a clause in the state contracts that inform the client about radon gas and let them know that they can do testing if they so desire. I have never had a client ask for the testing to be done.

Jul 28, 2011 03:18 AM #16
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

Such an important test and yet so many ignore it. We had our home tested here in Richmond and it came back at 13!

Jul 28, 2011 03:57 AM #17
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Good post.  Maryland home buyers should certainly opt for radon tests. Remediation will always solve the problem and every owner should want to know if they have a radon issue that needs a cure.

I posted your blog on my Facebook page.

 Life is good!

Jul 28, 2011 06:55 AM #18
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!


Radon is real seriuos in my parts. Good blog post and info here.

Jul 28, 2011 03:23 PM #19
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Pat-I remember radon was a pretty standard test in real estate transactions in MO, but I guess the geological einvironment doesn't require it here. I do recall some people relocating here from other parts of the country ask about radon testing.

Jul 28, 2011 04:15 PM #20
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Patricia Kennedy

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