Radon During Real Estate Transactions


What information is available regarding radon and real estate transactions?

The EPA publication Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon (http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/hmbyguid.html (link is external)) details several aspects related to radon testing during real estate transactions. You can find information on radon, the protocols for radon testing during real estate transactions, and guidance as to how to interpret your radon test results.

I'm buying a house. Should I have it tested for radon?

The EPA recommends that all houses, regardless of what radon zone the house is located in, be tested for radon during point of sale. The most common procedure for radon testing during real estate transactions is for the potential buyer to request the radon test as part of the overall home inspection. The radon test is generally a separate service and must be requested. If the radon test is 4 pCi/L or greater, the EPA recommends the potential buyer negotiate with the seller to have a radon mitigation system installed with the stated goal of bringing the radon level in the home below 4 pCi/L.

I'm selling a house. Should I have it tested for radon?

The homeowner of a house can test their home prior to listing the home for sale. If the homeowner does perform a radon test, most if not all states will require that the test result be disclosed on the whole house disclosure form you will fill out with your realtor. If the initial test by the homeowner comes back less than 4 pCi/L, potential buyers may still request an additional radon test as part of their home inspection. If an initial radon test by the homeowner is 4 pCi/L or greater, the issue will need to be addressed in the real estate transaction. A buyer may want to have a confirmatory test conducted. With an average radon level of 4 pCi/L or greater, it is recommended that a radon mitigation system be installed prior to placing the house on the market, to bring the radon level to less than 4 pCi/L.

Can vacant houses be tested for radon?

Yes. Radon levels in a home, under typical operating conditions, will commonly reach a steady state with mild fluctuations about 12 hours after the house is closed up. Vacant houses will experience factors that may drive radon levels to lower or higher than normal averages, but the effect cannot be predicted. If the house is opened up for ventilation purposes prior to the test, it should then be closed up and a test started no sooner than 12 hours later. If short-term radon testing is being used, then the house has to be kept closed except for normal entry and exit, as if it were the winter heating season. It is recommended that the home’s heating and cooling system be operated normally for the season. If the average indoor level is 4 pCi/L, then it is expected that the radon level will be near to that average after 12 hours of a house being closed.

The seller of the house I want to buy disclosed a radon level of 2. Should this be a deterrent to buying?

This level should not be a deterrent to buying a home. In fact, any level should not be a deterrent to buying a home because radon can almost always be reduced in a home, and to levels below the EPA guideline of 4. Many times post mitigation tests are in the range of 1-3. The level of 2 would be a very good result for a home that had a mitigation system installed to reduce the level from a much higher number. As long as the issue is resolved in the real estate transaction, the radon level should not be a deterrent to buying any home. Achieving lower radon levels when the starting concentration is 2 to 4 is not likely to be something a radon contractor would guarantee under typical conditions for a set price.