Radon and Real Estate Transactions In Illinois
EPA’s Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon
The informed and educated real estate professional will use the disclosure statement to introduce buyers and sellers to radon. When asked for more information, you can use the EPA’s Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon to answer questions and fulfill disclosure requirements, without having to express an opinion. The information contained in this booklet will give the home buyer or seller a broad overview of issues surrounding radon, and allow individuals to make informed decisions regarding radon during a real estate transaction.
Representing a Seller
Seller’s Property Disclosure
Early disclosure to both buyers and sellers allows everyone plenty of time to learn about radon and act accordingly. Early disclosure builds an atmosphere of trust and encourages an honest exchange among all parties. Problems are much more likely to arise if a radon problem is suspected when the parties are already well into a real estate transaction.
When the Seller has already tested the home for radon
When a seller has tested the home for radon, test results should be provided to the buyer. A potential buyer may ask for a new test, depending on the following:
- Whether U.S. EPA protocols were followed for the radon measurement test.
- The seller has renovated or changed the home since the test was performed.
- The buyer intends to occupy a lower level of the home than the seller tested (such as a basement area).
- The test was done more than two years ago
When the home has not been tested for radon
If the seller has no knowledge of the home being tested for radon, suggest a test be done immediately by a certified radon professional with a continuous radon monitor. This could save precious time during a real estate transaction. The test device should be placed in the lowest level of the home suitable for occupancy. If the lower level of the home is unfinished, but could be completed in the future and occupied, the test should occur in this portion of the home. Potential buyers may want to know everything the seller knows about any radon tests.
The EPA recommends that a homeowner take action if the indoor radon levels are 4 pCi/l or higher. It is best to correct a radon problem before putting a home on the market, since this allows more time to address the situation. Sellers who have tested their homes and, if necessary, installed radon mitigation systems can demonstrate that they have already recognized and mitigated radon levels for any potential buyer. Having a mitigation system is a marketing plus, especially in areas where elevated radon levels are prevalent.
A typical home inspection can easily include a radon test upon request. A seller may wish to wait until an inspection is performed during the potential sale of the home, however, if test results are elevated the seller should be prepared to discuss corrective measures before the sale closes.
Keep in mind:
- All radon tests will show some amount of radon. It is not a question of if radon is present, but rather, how much radon will be found in a properly tested home.
- Mitigation is a well known science, with additional benefits toward indoor air quality above and beyond radon reduction.
- Testing and mitigation should be performed by individuals listed as certified.
Representing a Buyer
When the seller has already tested the home
If a seller discloses the presence of radon in the home, the buyer should request the following information:
- Results of the previous tests.
- The name of the person who performed the test. Was it the homeowner? A radon professional?
- Where was the test device placed in the home? If the seller occupies only the upper level of the home and had the test performed on that level, but the home has a basement in which the buyer intends to occupy, the buyer may want to test the home again in the lower level.
- Has any major remodeling or structural changes been made to the home since the test was performed? If so, radon levels may have been affected and the house should be retested.
- If the seller discloses acceptable radon levels in the home (i.e. less than 4 pCi/l), the U.S. EPA would recommend that there is no need for further action. (However, realize there is still some risk associated with levels less than 4 pCi/l.)
- When the test was done…EPA recommends that all homes be tested every two years.
When the home has not been tested for radon
The real estate professional should suggest a radon test be done as soon as possible. It may be done during the normal course of the home inspection, preferably by a third party tester who is certified by Illinois Emergency Management Association (IEMA).
Tests must be properly conducted and interpreted to prevent unnecessary mitigation, but more importantly, to ensure that mitigation is seriously considered when testing indicates unacceptable levels of radon. Certified testers insure that testing was properly performed without inadvertent or deliberate tampering of the test. You can find certified Radon Measurement Professionals at the IEMA website