Last night I received a text I wish had been a joke. It was an agent asking me, "Mark, what is a radon mitigation system? You stated that there's one in your home for sale on Deep Cove." It's often said that there's no such thing as a stupid question, but coming from a seasoned agent on a high production team, that was a stupid question. I texted back that the system was in place to treat high levels of radon that had previously been found in the home. The agent texted back and said, "Oh, OK, I'll show my buyers the house down the street then. That one doesn't have a mitigation system." Oh, dear . .. . .
We build our homes in Northeast Ohio on top of the Marcellus Shale, a massive underground bed of marine sedimentary rock that is a reservoir for oil and gas reserves. All of this shifting rock fills our basements with naturally occurring, carcinogenic radon gas. A mitigation system is quite simply, a diverter, sending radon gas out of a home and into the outside air where it dissipates harmlessly.
A Florida Realtor doesn't need to know that much about radon mitigation. Homes built on sand don't have high radon levels. A little league baseball player is also off the hook for not being aware of radon. He or she just needs to know where the best place is for getting post-victory ice cream.
But an agent in Northeast Ohio must know about radon and understand mitigation systems. This doesn't just affect our clients' satisfaction in a home-buying situation. It affects their longevity. Exposure to high radon levels is directly linked to lung cancer. Understanding radon and educating clients about it is protecting their health.
One of our fiduciary responsibilities to our clients is "reasonable care and skill" in the performance of our job. We don't have to understand the finest nuances of every issue related to homeownership, but we do have to care enough to be educated Realtors. And if there are gaps in our knowledge, we have to remedy that. A doctor can't tell a patient who is complaining of stomach pain, "I can't help you with that. I'm not sure about all of that stuff south of the cardiothoracic cavity .. . ."
And in the event that we are ignorant of some term or situation when representing a client, there's always Google to enlighten us. It saves us from what happened to my fellow agent last night - better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and dispel all doubts!