The buyer wants a radon mitigation system installed. What should I do?

The buyer wants a radon mitigation system installed. What should I do?

Scenario:  You’re selling your home and the buyers had a radon test performed.  The results from the radon test came in at 4.0 pCi/L and the buyer wants you to install a radon mitigation system. 

What do you do?

If you’re working with a real estate agent, they may recommend that you agree to install a system.  Depending on the property, that can cost between $500-1,500, however, it’s possible to cost even more; that’s just a general range for most home systems.

The laws vary in different states, but in Colorado, the seller has the option to agree, or not, to the installation.  However, this might be considered a “material defect”, meaning that if the current deal falls through, the next buyer MUST be told about the high radon levels, and most likely they would also ask for a mitigation system to be installed.

The EPA actually recommends radon mitigation systems be installed when the radon results are as low as 2.0 pCi/L, though it states 4.0 as the “highest acceptable level”.  However, it’s very common for a buyer to ask for mitigation whenever the radon results are 4.0 or greater.  Asking for mitigation at levels under 4.0, while it happens, isn’t common.

Should you agree and install a system?  It all depends on how much you want to get the house sold.  Some companies will allow for systems to be installed before closing, then paid for out of closing proceeds.  Others take payment plans.  If this is the worst thing a homeowner is asking for, it might be worth the concession to have radon mitigation installed.

But what if you’re the buyer and the radon test comes back high?  You have the option to either ask for a mitigation system be installed…or not. Sometimes buyers are so hot on getting the home that they’ll forego asking for repairs or safety upgrades such as radon remediation in order to secure the deal.  

The potential problem here is that, while buyers have the best of intentions that they’ll install it after they move it, they just typically don’t.  Out of sight, out of mind.  And they’d rather keep the cash in their pocket.

However, two things need to be understood.  One is that the buyer will now be living in a toxic environment that is odorless and undetectable by human abilities.  The other is that one day, when the owner decides to sell the home, high radon levels will likely become an issue once again.

Really, all you’ve done is kick the problem down the road, and now YOU have to pay for it, instead of the seller from whom you originally bought the home.

What’s good standard practice is to ask the seller to pay.  If they do, great, you’re one more step towards moving into your new home.  If they say no, you might try asking for a smaller concession towards a mitigation system.  

If they keep refusing, and you just have to have the house, definitely get a bid from a reputable radon mitigation specialist on what the cost would be, and if you can swing it, get it scheduled for install soon after closing.

Remember, radon is odorless; you’ll never know you’re living with it around you.  A mitigation system is a small price to pay for getting rid of this.  Your body will thank you for it.

Published at Dec 24, 2019