Do You Really Need That Radon Test?

Real Estate Agent with Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. AB95346

The particles are tiny, and sub-micrscopic that can creep into houses.  And they are generally considered to be not good for your lungs. 

One of the contingencies in our local boiler plate contracts allows the buyers, if they choose, a few days to have a radon test done.  If they find radon, the buyers can ask the sellers to get rid of it.  If the sellers say no, the buyers have the option to walk away from the deal.

In this area, there's a fair amount of radon.  And only about half of the offers that I write have radon contingencies.  If you're buying a home, should you include the radon clause or skip it?

At yesterday's office meeting, John Swett of Radon Abatement Services here in DC gave a great presentation that made me take the whole radon thing a bit more seriously.

Whether or not you include the contingency in your offer should depend on whether you are the only offer on the table or in a multiple offer situation.  If you're the only offer, I'd say include the contignecy.  In a multiple situation, you may want as few contingencies as possible and decide to leave it off.

What are the consequences of omitting the radon clause?  If you do find radon later, you and not the seller will wind up paying for the remediation.  And according to John Swett, in the DC area (at least his firm) charge between $800 and $1200 to do the job. 

And while you may not really need the contingency, you really do need a test if you are buying in the DC Metro area.

And here are some pointers:

  • Never hire a radon remediation company to do your testing. 
  • If they find enough to warrent treatment, do not rely on the remediation company's test results - have them confirmed by an independent test.
  • Never rely on the seller's test result from when they bought the house.  The results can vary depending on factors like the season of the year and the amount of recent rain or snowfall when the test was run.

For more information on radon, you can check out the EPA's Citizen's Guide to Radon.




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Home Buying
District of Columbia District of Columbia County Washington
Diary of a Realtor
radon testing

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Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Interesting. Our contracts allow for a 10 day inspection period to inspect for anything and everything that concerns the particular buyer. He can "look" for anything he is willing to pay for. Just a matter of how much he wants to spend.

Certainly not up to the seller, that's for sure.

July 27, 2011 11:19 PM
Laura Cerrano
Authentic Feng Shui Expert
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island

I'll take your word for it. :)

July 27, 2011 11:25 PM
Scott Hayes
Realty Austin, Broker Associate
(512) 786-8300



We talk about radon in preparation for real estate tests, but very limited after that. Nice post about a subject that is often ignored


July 27, 2011 11:52 PM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Selling Daytona paradise for heavenly good prices
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408

Patricia - we have it as standard disclosure, like mold, in our contracts, so I think we are covered. I thought this is standard everywhere, but looks like not

July 27, 2011 11:56 PM
Praful Thakkar
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale
Keller Williams Realty

Patricia, I always have put the radon test contingencies in my offers - and you may be right, not the best in case of mulitple offer scenario.

Traditionally, the seller is expected to take care of this - but not necessarily true, though.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the radon test.

July 28, 2011 12:26 AM
Nina Rogoff
Your Hometown Realtor in Sharon MA
RE/MAX Executive Realty -

The home inspector who a lot of my clients use always offers this test. You're right, that relying on the results from one time period isn't sufficient. Just today, a client told me they put in a radon remediation system last year 4 years after they bought the home. They had tested at the time they bought and it was just at the recommended limits. Because they have young kids, and her home business targets young kids, they have retested periodically. Last year, the results were over the limits and they decided wisely, to install a remediation system. Good post, Pat!

July 28, 2011 01:01 AM
Barbara Todaro
"New Franklin MA Homes"
RE/MAX Executive Realty

In our area, we expect to have a radon inspection with every home inspection.....there are computer readings now so there is no tampering with canisters.....if the results are over 4.0 the seller will install a radon system that might range from $900 to $1,200.....

July 28, 2011 03:50 AM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring
Floor Coverings International Westchester NY & Stamford CT

Smart thinking Patriica.  Yes, it's always important to have an independent party do the testing.  Same thing for mold.

July 28, 2011 05:15 AM
Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

A radon contingency should never cause the failure of a contract on a home the buyers really want.   The cost is inconsequential when compared to the risk.

July 28, 2011 05:37 AM
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating

Better be safe than sorry...

July 28, 2011 05:54 AM
Ginny Gorman
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond
Phillips Post Road Realty ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate

Pat, radon is a big issue in RI due to the way glaciers left the rocks that radiate it in some parts of the state & produces higher levels.  I always suggest my clients do the testing never makes or breaks a contract since it's about $900 for a system here too..

July 28, 2011 06:42 AM
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

I had a client cancel a contract because the radon level my test determined was 4.1.

This is the same lady who did not have a cigarette out of her mouth for more than one minute during the inspection, not listening to any of us who asked her to put it out.

July 28, 2011 07:39 AM
Patricia Kennedy
For Your Home in the Capital
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc.

Jon, around here, we usually do about a week.

Lenn, you are right about radon being a lame excuse for a contract to fail.  I try to set it up from the start as one of those issues that a smart homeowner deals with.  Back in the day, remediation could costs $15,000, mostly because they were just learning how to do it.  Today's fix costs are so much lower.

And Jay, I've heard that smokers are more prone to radon induced cancer than the rest of us, but who knows? 

July 28, 2011 08:21 AM
Paula McDonald
CHEVAUX Group ~ The Woodlands, TX 936-203-0279
Chevaux Group, PLLC

I just read a report recently on this topic and the rise in lung cancer in non-smokers.  This got my attention as I suurvived a massive lung tumor and have never smoked and always wonder how this thing formed in my lung??  The article discussed the possible culprit as radon.  I will be interested to see what happens with this topic for sure.

July 28, 2011 08:36 AM
Richard Iarossi
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

I always recommend a Radon test if any of the home is underground.

Rich Sent from my iPad

July 28, 2011 08:39 AM
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie
Palm Harbor & Dunedin FL Residential Real Estate
Charles Rutenberg Realty

Pat - We have a clause in the state contracts that inform the client about radon gas and let them know that they can do testing if they so desire. I have never had a client ask for the testing to be done.

July 28, 2011 10:18 AM
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.
RVA Home Team with Jefferson Properties

Such an important test and yet so many ignore it. We had our home tested here in Richmond and it came back at 13!

July 28, 2011 10:57 AM
Roy Kelley
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs
Retired Real Estate Broker, Maryland Blogger

Good post.  Maryland home buyers should certainly opt for radon tests. Remediation will always solve the problem and every owner should want to know if they have a radon issue that needs a cure.

I posted your blog on my Facebook page.

 Life is good!

July 28, 2011 01:55 PM
Tom Braatz
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent,Waukesha
Re/Max Realty Center 262-377-1459


Radon is real seriuos in my parts. Good blog post and info here.

July 28, 2011 10:23 PM
Wayne Johnson
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®

Pat-I remember radon was a pretty standard test in real estate transactions in MO, but I guess the geological einvironment doesn't require it here. I do recall some people relocating here from other parts of the country ask about radon testing.

July 28, 2011 11:15 PM
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Patricia Kennedy

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