Realtors, Your Input Is Needed!

By
Home Inspector with H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)

In the past few months, it seem that I have been hearing realtors tell clients that they "really don't need to have a radon test performed". I have had at least 7 clients actaully schedule a radon test with me, and then consequently, call me back to cancel it, because their realtor had advised them that "they really don't need one".

Well, I am certainly not a lawyer, and by no means a legal authority, but simple deduction tells me that these realtors appear to be sticking their necks way out on the chopping block. Since radon can ONLY be detected by properly testing for it, and the ONLY way to know if you have a high concentration of it and need to have it mitigated is by testing, then WHY would any realtor want to risk telling a client that they do not need to have it tested? Especially when the general fix for most houses is less than $1000?

Suppose that the realtor suggested to a client that he need not have a radon test, and it is discovered at some later date (after the family has moved in), that indeed, there is a very high concentration of radon, and mitigation is definitely warranted. Who do you think that client is going to look to first to pay for it? And possibly other damages as well?

Even if you think you are in an area where the radon concentration is usually low, it may still be a very bad idea to advise your client NOT to have it tested. Are you prepared to guarantee the occupants safety, and warrant that they will never have any ill effects????

I would really like any and all opinions on this from the real estate community. Pleas feel free to elaborate on any opinion you may have, and if you think I'm all wet on this one, please tell me why you have that opinion.

Has something happened in the real estate community concerning radon that I am not aware of? 

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Steven L. Smith 12/21/2008 04:48 AM
  2. Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections 01/10/2009 11:38 AM
  3. David M. Childress 07/14/2009 06:03 AM
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Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Rich, around here, in Ohio radon levels also vary greatly, as one house on a street can be very high, while another on the same stree may be very low. I know there are some areas of the country wher radon does not constitute a large concern, but in areas such as this, it is a pure guessing game whether or not a house has high radon levels, unless it is tested.

Under these conditions, I can only say that you need to test if you need to know what the levels are. We are talking aout somthing that has been proven to be a carcinogen, and a major health risk when exposed to high levels over time. (And most people spend most of their time in their house, especially in winter).

Dec 19, 2008 07:28 PM #11
Rainmaker
52,728
Christina Moock
Cutler Real Estate - Canton, OH
REALTOR - Cutler Real Estate

Can the radon level in your house change over time?  Like if you tested a house and found the level was safe, could it test as high a year later?

Dec 19, 2008 11:43 PM #12
Rainer
30,232
Barb Corsa
SendOutCards - Green, OH
Helping you keep in touch

If you haven't seen the Radon Map for Ohio, here's a link. There's a lot of information about Radon on Kevin's site at www.hisinspections.com.(Homepage - right side)

http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap/ohio.htm

 

Dec 20, 2008 04:48 AM #13
Rainer
478,183
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I don't think it's an issue of "something happen[ing] in the real estate community concerning radon that [you are] not aware of," it's the fact that radon hasn't caught on throughout the nation yet. Heck, simple home inspections haven't caught on throughout the nation yet. There are some rural areas in Texas and Louisiana that I'm familiar with where only 20% of homes have an inspection. Out here we're at 84%, and, in over seven years and thousands of inspections, I've never had a call for radon or mold testing, or IR thermography.

Dec 20, 2008 08:45 PM #14
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

That's very interesting Russel. Around here radon appears to be a much bigger deal, because the radon concentration map shows that most of Ohio has over 4.0 pcL indoor concentration (which is the level at which the EPA recommends mitigation). Which is also the reason I would never discourage anyone from getting a radon test done.

It just seems that recently, I have had a rash of realtors telling clients they don't need one all of a sudden, and I am curious as to why.

Christina, Yes, your radon level in a house can change over time. As a basement or crawl space get more cracks in the concrete, there are more places for it to enter. Actually, when you do a 48 hour radon test, with readings every hour, it is amazing how much difference you can get even from hour to hour. I have had ones that had a low reading of 2.0 one hour during a test, and 4 hours later had a reading of 15.0  They usually take the "average" of all the readings to come up with the final reading.

Dec 20, 2008 09:29 PM #15
Rainer
9,983
Meredith Laws
Windermere Wall St., West Seattle Office - Seattle, WA
Seattle and Greater Puget Sound Real Estate

The only time I have had people ask about it is if they are from out of the area. I have never read or heard of it being an issue in our area. That said, it doesn't mean it isn't here.

What happened to the headlines recently about granite and other natural imported rock building materials bringing radon and other radioactive stuff into a home? Is that something that we should be concerned about or media silliness?

Dec 24, 2008 01:29 AM #16
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

The granite countertop thing is more of a media event than anything else. There has not been a piece of granite found with any significant radon level that I am aware of.

Dec 24, 2008 03:57 AM #17
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

I would think that talking a buyer out of having any kind of inspection would be something that creates a lot more liability fot that person (realtor).

Dec 28, 2008 07:28 PM #18
Rainer
20,334
Rick Harrington
Patch Independent Home Inspections, LLC - Columbus, OH
Specialist--Infrared Residential

Great subject Kevin.

 

I now have a form that the buyer needs to sign stating that I informed them of the need for a radon test and that they either accepted or declined to have the test.  As INFORMED real estate professionals, it is up to us to provide the best possible information to the client. 

The EPA and Surgeon General HAS determined that this is a danger and that EVERY home be test for radon gas levels.  Not just those in Real Estate transactions. 

If Radon was man made it would be regulated by the Federal Government much like radioactive byproducts from nuclear power plants. The Radon Decay Products have been proven to be radio active and can cause lung cancer. Period.  

How many people out there do not smoke or want their children to smoke but don't have their homes checked for radon?  Then they create these elaborate play rooms in the basement or lower level!

 

GET YOUR HOUSE TESTED !!!!

 

 

Dec 28, 2008 09:59 PM #19
Ambassador
1,485,851
Jim Crawford
Crye-Leike REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR

I tell them to choose and inspector, and let me know when it is scheduled to take place. That is all I tell a buyer.  However if a buyer ever asked me has radon ever been found on any homes I've sold either on the listing side or the buyer side and the answer is "0!"  That is right - since 1992 it has never come up positive in the deals we were invloved in.  However, I do not advise buyers not to get them.  It is their health, their lives and their money.

Dec 29, 2008 02:16 AM #20
Rainer
20,334
Rick Harrington
Patch Independent Home Inspections, LLC - Columbus, OH
Specialist--Infrared Residential

WOW... zero... that is amazing.  During inspections in the Columbus and Central Ohio regions I find elevated rates (over 4pCi/L) in more than 50% of those homes without mitigation systems already installed in them.  I do realized that Ohio does have more conditions conducive to radon gas creation than a lot of states. 

I guess that is why we feel it's a good thing to inform the client of their options.

Dec 29, 2008 02:26 AM #21
Rainmaker
109,585
Debbie White
Southeast Alaska Real Estate - Juneau, AK

I agree with a few other posters that said I would NEVER discourage an inspection.  I might even learn something.  That being said, most of this state, and definitely everything within a few hundred miles are yellow on that map.  Thanks for making me look!

Dec 29, 2008 09:51 AM #23
Rainmaker
128,607
Tony and Libby Kelly
Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere - Lake Oswego, OR
CRS, ABR, ePro, SRES, CLHMS, CDPE

How could testing your house, for anything, EVER be a bad idea!? 

Dec 29, 2008 09:55 AM #24
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

I agree Tony. But, it is interesting to note that the different areas of the country, and the almost total absence of radon in some places, and the almost total probability that there is a high radon count in  others. the EPA geological maps really tell most of that story, but even so, there ARE NO GUARANTEES in ANY AREA. The maps are not conclusive, and there can still be small pockets that have high radon in any area. With that said, it is probably best for realtors, home inspectors, and anyone else in an advisory position, to not try to sway a customer one way or the other, on whether or not to have a radon rest. Just give them the best information available, and let them make their own decision.  

Dec 30, 2008 11:30 PM #25
Rainer
51,992
Jim Dvorovy
Cutler Real Estate - Canton, OH
REALTOR - Canton Ohio Real Estate

Kevin - I can't even imagine a situation like you are describing here in our area of Ohio. I'm sure the brokerage owners would want to know if their agents are telling buyers they do not need a radon inspection. There is way too much liability involved. I am wondering what you do to protect yourself and properly document the instances in case litigation is ever a result?

Jan 06, 2009 10:11 PM #26
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Jim, you know it baffles me too, but it happens a lot more than you would think, and I'm not sure of the reason why, but I always make the clients sign off that they DID NOT want a radon inspection, which I am hoping will keep ME out of trouble.

It's interesting that you say you think the brokers would be interested to know that some agents are doing this.

Jan 07, 2009 01:05 AM #27
Rainer
51,992
Jim Dvorovy
Cutler Real Estate - Canton, OH
REALTOR - Canton Ohio Real Estate

Kevin - I guarantee the owners of my brokerage firm would want to know that information in a heart beat! Someone would be in for an instant education.

You have gotten me to wonder: 1) if the agents you are talking about are associates of the larger name/corporate/full service brokerage firms, or in the smaller alternative model companies?

2) Are those agents established top producers that you recognize in your market place or perhaps newer agents that may not know the dangers involved? 

"I have had at least 7 clients actually schedule a radon test with me, and then consequently, call me back to cancel it, because their Realtor had advised them that "they really don't need one".

I think I would get an opinion from your attorney whether you would be fully covered by having them later sign that they do not want one, knowing that an agent advised them they did not need one. Was the form they sign drafted by an attorney?

 

Jan 07, 2009 01:26 AM #28
Rainer
51,992
Jim Dvorovy
Cutler Real Estate - Canton, OH
REALTOR - Canton Ohio Real Estate

"...it happens a lot more than you would think, and I'm not sure of the reason why"

Kevin, most of the time the buyers are really pinched for money. Even the cost for the radon test is more than they have. Should the property need mitigated then there is the argument on who will pay for it? Many buyers know you can get a kit from Lowe's to at least test for the radon, so their good intentions are to perhaps test later, after they move in. We all know what road is paved with good intentions.

So, initially many buyers want it and ask for it on the purchase agreement, as long as the seller will pay for it. Many buyers decide to subsequently waive it if they have to pay for it. Perhaps some of the buyers you have dealt with begin to blame the Realtors in their mind and even verbally express that to you? Who knows... very interesting.

Jan 07, 2009 03:19 AM #29
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Jim, Thank you for that "piece of the puzzle" that was missing. That might explain why some people "say" that their realtors told them they didn't need one. Perhaps they are really just saying that you don't have to have if you can't afford it.

Jan 07, 2009 03:53 AM #30
Rainmaker
1,477,608
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

 

We don't say in the offer what inspections or tests the buyers are doing, so there is not really anything that they would be waiving.  They have the right by contract to have inspections and tests.  It is up to them whether they want to inspect for lead, wood destroying insects, radon, mold, something else.... some may not be doing as many as they would in a different kind of economy.  Buyers hold the purse strings.

I would never try to recommend or suggest a buyer NOT do any inspection or test they want during the contractual inspection period.

 

Jul 14, 2009 06:36 AM #31
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Kevin Corsa

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