Lead Paint Test or Radon Test. Why one and not the other?

Allowing a buyer to test for Lead Paint in single family (homes built prior to 1978) home purchases is mandated by the United States Government. Deny the buyer the opportunity to test and you face fines in excess of $30,000.  Disclosing that you are aware of lead in your home will diminish the value by at least 5%.  Cost of remediation is enormous compared to curing any other condition.  The cost of clean up, and health risks are  significant.   If you know a  REALTOR who encourages buyers to test for lead paint I’d like to meet them.  I have never seen an accepted offer with a lead paint testing contingency. Ever. Oh, 100% of the homes built before 1978 are subject to the Lead paint test requirement.

Radon is everywhere. Always will be. There is no safe level of Radon. The WHO and USA do not agree on an action level.  WHO says 2.0 picocuries per liter. USA EPA says 4.0.  Do you know anyone who knows the radon level in their home? Their office? Their school, or apartment? Nope.  Does the government mandate radon testing? No. Radon is present in 100% of the homes in the United States.  Not just old homes, and in fact the new homes are way better at holding radon—no leaking windows, or holes. The test done by inspectors to measure radon is at best 3 days. In a row.  The EPA recommends a six month test.  The cost of the test is roughly $200.  The cost of curing the radon level to an EPA level of below 4.0 ranges from $600 to $1400.  The fix is pvc pipe sold for pennies by the foot, a small electric motor, an outlet, and a hole in the concrete floor.  The material is about $150 total.

Because the cost of the test is a third of the cost of the cure, it makes no financial sense to test. Just put in the mitigation system.  But test we do. We promote the Radon test at a cost to buyers. ($200 is at least 10% more cost to the acquisition costs for the buyer)

I’m perplexed. If we think we are looking out for our buyer by including radon tests, why are we not including Lead Paint tests in target housing?  It’s OK with me if you want to put radon testing in your offer. I’d just like to know the logic.

Author: Tom Meyer Real Estate Broker, Madison, WI

I believe the difference between an accepted or rejected real estate offer to purchase starts with the drafter's ability to customize the Offer to reflect the Buyer's commitment. Ready, willing, capable, committed, sincere people can out negotiate higher priced offers by moving away from standardized forms. Ask me how.

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