Want to Sell Your Home or Apartment Faster? Get an Environmental Inspection
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the way we think about things has changed – even when it comes to real estate. Buyers are much more health conscious and want to be sure that their prospective new homes don’t harbor toxins that can lead to health issues. That’s why it’s so important to have an environmental home inspection prior to sale. The presence of mold, asbestos, poor indoor air quality, polluted water, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radon, and lead can all become deal breakers.
Many savvy realtors are recommending investing in environmental testing services sooner rather than later. For sellers, if you identify issues before putting a property on the market, it can help you to sell your home faster and avoid costly rush charges to have last-minute issues fixed before the closing. For buyers, unhealthy conditions in a home or apartment can make or break a deal, and they may opt for their own environmental testing anyway. If you already have a report stating a clean bill of health, you’re ahead of the game in a very competitive market.
Your Home’s Age Doesn’t Matter
It’s not just older homes that have problems; newer ones do, too. While older homes are more likely to contain lead and asbestos, especially NYC apartments, newer homes often suffer from poor indoor air quality. Recent constructions are built to be airtight to conserve energy, trapping air that contains mold, VOCs, chemicals, and other toxins that can cause health issues.
Because most home inspectors lack the knowledge and certifications necessary to test for potentially toxic substances, you should schedule an environmental inspection with a certified independent testing company before putting your house or apartment on the market or putting down a deposit.
What should you check for? Many realtors suggest these as a starting point:
Mold can be found virtually anywhere in a home—in walls, floors and ceilings, under a sink, and even beneath carpeting. Mold can be present wherever water or moisture has seeped into a home—around windows, roofs, leaky pipes, or basements that may have flooded and not properly dried or have cracks in the foundation.
Exposure to mold can cause or worsen health issues like allergies and asthma, and can exacerbate more serious respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. Typically, home inspectors will look for visible signs of mold, but unless they see it or smell a musty odor, they won’t know a potential problem exists.
The time of year counts too. If you are selling a dwelling during the winter, mold may be dormant. But as soon as heat and humidity come into play, mold becomes active and you could have a full-blown mold infestation. Finding mold before a buyer does will save you time and headaches later.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality (IAQ) has become a major consideration when buying a home. According to the EPA, our indoor environment is two to five times more toxic than our outdoor environment, and in some cases, the air indoors is 100 times more polluted than outdoors, especially in larger cities like New York. In new construction, many of the materials used contain alarmingly high levels of harmful formaldehyde and other toxic VOCs.
Exposure to even a few asbestos fibers can cause cancer and respiratory problems. Over the years, asbestos was used in roofing materials, flooring, pipe insulation, ceiling tiles, wallboard, and hundreds of other building supplies. It may never present a problem if material is in good condition. But, when asbestos is disturbed, you risk releasing its fibrous particles into the air. If a homebuyer or home inspector identifies any deteriorating suspect asbestos material or the buyer is planning any renovations, asbestos testing will be more than a mark on the home inspection list, so best to have it covered early.
Homes and apartments built before 1978 should be tested for lead paint, inside and out. Lead dust, which comes from deteriorating surfaces, is the most common cause of lead poisoning and is easily ingestible. Typically, the dust is created where there’s friction, such as windows and windowsills.
Pipes and faucets are also a source of lead in water. Soil can also have elevations of lead from a home’s deteriorating external painted surfaces. Exposure to lead can cause irreversible neurological damage. With buyers more aware of the risk of lead poisoning today, you want to be sure that you have removed the problem.
Radon is a dangerous, naturally occurring radioactive gas responsible for over 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, according to the EPA. You can’t see or smell radon; the only way to detect it is with proper sampling techniques. It is very prevalent in the northeast, where it is estimated that one out of every five homes have elevated levels of radon.
A comprehensive analysis of the home’s drinking water is important. A basic home inspection will tell you if your pump and faucets work, but it won’t analyze the water quality. Heavy metals in pipes, arsenic that naturally occurs in groundwater, radon that is naturally produced when uranium decays in soil and water, and pesticide contamination are just some of the things that can taint the water buyers will be drinking, bathing in, and using every day. This is especially important in New York City, where pipes and faucets may be older.
Make selling your home easier. Have a pre-sale environmental inspection. Not all environmental hazards are obvious. To detect them requires expertise, licensure, technology, and experience. If you would like more information on what types of environmental inspections may be right for you, please feel free to call us at 800.392.6468.