Radon has no known safe level, and it’s everywhere (A lot like mold)

A Radon Test costs between $150 and $300 in the Madison, WI area. A mitigation system ranges from $650 to rarely above $1,200.

A Radon contingency is one of the contingencies  left out of an Offer when  obtaining acceptance matters more than protection against risk.
Because  Radon gas is everywhere there is air, there will be a level of Radon in every building.  Long term exposure to Radon Gas is a health concern of the World Health Organization; for certain, there is no safe level. The level of 4.0 pCi/L was set by the EPA only as a practical level for indoor air. The chance of a radon level at or greater than 4.0 pCi/L from a 48 hour test is great. (WHO recommends three month tests for accurate indicators). The 48 hour test costs $150-$300.  A mitigation system runs $650-$1200 (If you have a bill for over $1,200 in Madison, WI let me know)  regardless of the size of the house.  A mitigation system will not reduce the level of radon gas to 0. The guarantee made by the people who install  mitigation systems is only that the level will be below 4.0 pCi/L….but again, there is no safe level of radon gas. No one is promising to make your home safe from radon gas.
Including a radon testing contingency will not protect  a person from owning a home with radon gas inside the home. It could be effective in allowing the buyer an opportunity to continue negotiations.  Therefore, the contingency will  be considered for its risk to the seller. If the objective of the Seller is getting safely to closing, and they have options which don’t involve testing for radon gas, the Offer with the testing contingency has less appeal than one that does not.  All things considered, zero risk is more attractive to any owner than any risk. And of course the same goes for buyers. Someone has to give.
Given a choice of contingencies it’s expected a typical buyer prefers to have all the contingencies they can get.  For our part, assisting our clients to become informed typical buyers allows them to decide if any contingency is worth the risk to the appeal of their offer.  A chance to make an informed  choice  to decide what contingencies are best and which ones aren’t worth the risk of rejection, is a level of service informed licensees can offer and others will not.
Radon is everywhere, and  levels can be reduced below the practical level for less than the cost of installing gutters on your house or a bit more than twice the cost of the radon test.   Taking the radon testing contingency out of the Offer is one of the surest ways to improve the chance of acceptance.  Having a radon testing contingency will not ensure the house is radon free.

If we’re so opposed to overpaying, why do we buy water for $4.00 a bottle?

As of this moment, if you live in the United States, clean, clear water is available within a few feet of where you are right this moment. In a year the average American consumes more than 30 gallons of bottle water per year.  1999-2017 per capita consumption. Individually we each spend at least a $100 per year on water in a bottle.  Considering in 1976 the average American bought 1.5 gallons of bottled water per year, the market has been booming for this overpriced product.

If clean, safe drinking water can be had for pennies for a ton we are overpaying by….(Do the math here). Think about this, often we decide against a purchase over the financial difference of a percentage of less than 5%.   In competitive real estate markets the same people who pay hundreds and hundred of a percent over the price of water drop out of the negotiations for fear of looking silly for overpaying.   Nothing wrong with that of course, but compared to the craziness of buying free water in a plastic bottle for $2.00 a bottle, overpaying for a home which may increase in value along with all its other attributes seems like a smart decision to be applauded. Of course the amount we overpay isn’t available to spend on plastic bottle water.

When full price, cash offers, no contingencies, closing whenever the seller prefers are the most attractive terms a seller can get, it’s logical that every contingency included in the buyer’s Offer diminishes the appeal of the Offer in the eyes of a seller.
On the flip side, every contingency in an Offer protects the Buyer, allowing them time to do their due diligence before being obligated to close. Time and exit opportunities on the Buyer’s side put stress on the Seller. As long as the contingency exists a door to exit is open, and the Seller lives with fear of something going wrong.
Some contingencies in a WB offer and Addenda are irrelevant to some buyers. By knowing what matters most to this buyer, we give our clients the opportunity to decide what stays and what goes from the WB Offer and Addenda.   When the purpose for which a contingency exists is of no concern to the buyer, the contingency  only decreases the Buyer’s chance of having their Offer accepted.
Checking boxes and filling in blanks the way its always been done is standard practice. It’s not good for the client, but it’s simple for the REALTOR. When thinking of implications is not part of the conversation, no serious consideration of options, no “what if” questions, it’s safe to expect the Offer that comes out will have ultimate Buyer Protection and very little Seller appeal.  It’s more than unfortunate when well qualified people lose the house of their choice because of such a simple flaw. And it happens too often.
SRE agents study real estate contracts. They learn to eliminate terms which diminish their client’s Offer,  and structure terms that work for their Buyer clients.  Our approach is to make the Offer reflect the Buyer’s intention, ability, strengths, and fearlessness when that’s the case. The payoff for our clients, if the price is good enough for the seller, should  be an accepted Offer.

The Situation is Not The Reason We Do Anything

A change in employment, a job in another state, the grandchildren live in Seattle, the kids are all married; these are situations.  When asked,  “Why are you selling your house? Why are you moving?” any of those replies only reference a situation in the person’s life. They are not reasons for selling, for moving.

The reason a person sells their house is as simple as, “I want something different. I have this, but I want that. Having this keeps me from getting that.”  What they want might be different real estate, different weather, different lifestyle.   When the house a person owns can not be retained in order to get that next thing, the house becomes the key to their future.  Then why does  history, the past life, memories of the house weigh so heavily in the decision to sell?  I believe the hangup in selling is always tied to a weak commitment to the next thing.  When we want something bad enough, we will let go of what keeps us from getting it.  If I want to be in Texas with my family and the kids enrolled in school by August 15th, I won’t let a few thousand dollars difference get in the way. My reason for selling is the solution to getting what I want more than what I have.

When  a person says they won’t sell for X price below their asking price, the reason is because they want to keep this, more than they want to have that.  Regardless of the situation, the reason to not sell at X price is to keep what I have right now.  Only when getting the next thing is more important than keeping this thing will we reach an agreement with a buyer. Until then all buyers are competing with the seller/owner. It’s hard to outbid an owner when they want what they have more than what they might acquire. Maybe a fear of the future, the unknown, is greater than the comfort of the present, the known.  The money will be enough when desire for the future exceeds fear of loss or what might be.

If more money won’t guarantee an accepted offer, what will?

Every home seller wants something so they can be somewhere by some date.  Knowing what they want most is the key to getting your offer accepted.

More money is likely a want of every owner.  Less stress is near the top of a person’s wants.  Stress is related to risk and perceived consequences.  Fear and worry are relatives of stress. We are safe to assume eliminating fear and worry about undesirable consequences will be recognized and valuable to a home seller.

Every REALTOR should have at least ten good ideas for you to consider, to present you and your offer more risk free, safe, and sound for the seller.

The ideas we have for you are simple to understand. You can think of a few by simply switching your perspective to the view from the Seller’s side of the table. If you were her, what would you want to see in an offer?  Before committing to be represented by a Buyer Agent, find out what smart strategies the agent has to give you an edge in a competitive market. If the first and last idea is more money, they have no idea.

When Not in a Hurry ends

Traveling from here to anywhere there is a time when I’m not in a hurry. No rush to get there. I’ve got time.  Somewhere between then and now my time ran out and I’m under pressure. I’m stressed. I’m in a hurry. This is not a good feeling, and may not be the time to make a big commitment. Yet, we do. Often.

Not in a hurry feels good. Hope is on my side. Time is on my side. It’s sunshine and happiness. I might even waste some time when I’m not in a hurry. (January is never in a hurry. July can’t wait to get to August. )  There is a point when time turns against me but I won’t know that time until it’s already here. I’ll know it’s here by the stress I feel.

As a REALTOR I meet a lot of people who are like me when it comes to being in a hurry. A typical party in a real estate transaction is not in a hurry to sell or buy. Not today. Decisions made when not in a hurry are most likely to let you remain unhurried. This is fine until it’s not. We don’t go from “not in a hurry” to “in a hurry”. We go to stressed. Under pressure. Fearful. Our commitment to get somewhere is overshadowed by our desire to get out from under the pressure and end the fear.

When we think we are not in a hurry, and we’re feeling really good about our position, we might keep in mind that the feeling really good feeling vanishes when not in a hurry ends.  If in a hurry felt as good as not in a hurry that would be cool. It doesn’t. There is value in contemplating the consequences, implications, and other side of happiness when given a choice in the beginning.


Maybe July 2019, maybe not, we will see the new WB 11 Residential Offer to Purchase replace the version we’ve used since 2011.  We know for sure it will be bigger than the present nine page document. Better? We can hope.

As time goes by and workarounds become common practice, firms create contingencies on  their own addenda to counter the efforts of the miscreant.  And then it gets interesting. One firm after another sees something you wrote as useful, copies  it, or modifies it and makes the condition their own. By the time the  condition has spread through the community of REALTORS multiple versions of the original idea are incorporated into addenda. What looks like another firm’s contingency rarely is exactly alike.  The slightest word, “shall or may” for example, will significantly change the power of a contingency in favor of one party.

Eventually the WRA and REEB sit down to modify the WB to comply with current law, and common practice. It seems like every idea ever created to prevent the least common occurrence gets to audition for a place in the new Offer. Not all  get accepted but enough do that the document that went in comes out much fatter. Why the document doesn’t come out smaller is because users won’t let go of what they know. Regardless of its uncommon use (Seller right to provide financing when financing denied) wordy terms take up space in 100% of the Offers so that it will be there the .01% of the time it’s used.  Asking “WHY is this or that contingency necessary?” would result in the WB coming in at no more pages than the one we have and probably even smaller.

The analytics exist to know if contingencies we need are being left out to allow contingencies we don’t use to live on.  Before the next WB goes into use, it might be worth having it analyzed. And if the old shoes don’t get used, we could toss them for good.