When a person is buying or selling a piece of real estate, they need to be aware of the common environmental issues that could affect the transaction. Environmental safety issues can occur with land as well as buildings and when this happens the value of real estate will decrease significantly. If contaminated property is sold to an unknowing buyer, the seller could be liable for any costs associated with clean-up even if they are not responsible for the contamination. It is important to protect your home from hazards.
Asbestos. This was a material commonly used in construction because it provided excellent insulation and was fireproof. It was recently discovered that asbestos was related to lung disease as well as different types of lung cancer. It can become a serious problem during remodeling projects. Anything that causes a dispersal of asbestos filaments puts people at risk for health issues involving their lungs.
Radon. One of the common home hazards is an odorless, tasteless as well as colorless gas. Radon is found around the world and is produced by the natural decay process of uranium. Radon gas can be found at different levels in the air and soil worldwide. When it is present in dirt, or well water there is a good chance it is in nearby homes. Radon can be found in most homes at various levels. If a structure has levels that are not considered safe, a radon gas mitigation system will need to be installed.
Mold. This is a fungus that can grow on organic substances like paper, wood, leather and more when there is enough moisture present. The level of mold in a home can be the result of its construction as well as moisture in the environment where it is located. It can cause asthma attacks as well as different allergic reactions and more. Mold growing within a dwelling can result in liability issues if not disclosed during purchase negotiations.
Groundwater. This is water beneath the surface that flows in underground streams. It is often the main source of drinking water in some areas. In many situations, it can also move hazardous waste located in the ground or buried there. It is a circumstance with the potential for polluting properties for several miles. This is a consideration when a property uses groundwater as its water source. Any problems with groundwater need to be identified and addressed. Regular testing results of the water should be provided to any party interested in purchasing the property.
Underground Storage Tanks (USTs). What land is used for can change in many ways over time. Industrial areas have been torn down and replaced with housing. Zoning and changes in ordinances can result in businesses being forced to leave. In many cases, this has resulted in the presence of underground storage tanks being left in place. Office buildings or residential neighborhoods have been built near them. USTs could contain anything from motor oil to toxic waste and more. They will eventually corrode and begin leaking over time. Locations for many USTs are not known. When they do start to leak, a person selling property could be held liable for any problems caused by a UST.
Lead-Based Paint. Lead was used for many years to make the pigments of paints for a variety of colors. It was a material also commonly used for solder and water pipes. Lead-based paint was often used on the inside as well as outside surfaces of homes and other buildings. Prior to 1978, most houses and other buildings had lead-based paint. We now know that lead is highly toxic. It will accumulate in a person’s body over time. This can cause many different types of health issues including anemia, paralysis, weakness and more. It’s possible for small children to ingest paint flakes from the surface of a house. This has caused children to develop mental retardation and more. Having a structure with lead-based paint may require its removal as part of the building being sold.
It is important for both buyers and sellers of real estate to be aware of any possible environment hazards with the land or structure involved in a transaction. This could impact the cost of the real estate but ultimately do away with liability issues that could be addressed using the legal system.