Profile picture for hypersloth

Radon and repairs needed on home we are interested in.

We are trying to buy a home and recently had an inspection done.

The realtor doesn't believe the sellers would give anything more off of the price as an amendum to the current contract as they have already come down 5% off the cost of the home.  The Realtor works in the same office and is friends with the listing agent, so I have some concerns there, maybe unfounded.  She really did seem to be selling me on the idea that I'm getting a good deal and should live with my issues which are:

Roof will need replaced in 2 years and needs some repair in spots now although leaks were not found, although the inspector only peaked inside the attic without walking through.  
Air/Furnace at the end of their projected life of 15 years.  House is 14 years old (ryan home)
Many other minor things such as a couple leaking pipes, aging water heater, front patio needs to have a railing put in as it's high enough to warrant.

Then the radon test came through at 3.7 pci on average from two test units.  From what I've read on gov and real estates sites, this is not considered high but close to, and mitigation systems can resolve.  Do I really want some clunky mitigation system in place that I have to maintain?  Also, do I trust these actually work.  Not sure.  After reading many articles from scientific journals vs government and real estate sites, it seems the two agree to disagree on the effects and effectivness of mitigation systems.

Need some experienced advice.
  • August 12 2011 - US
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Answers (5)

Profile picture for minotau
Well you can ask for anything you want, the worst that can happen is that they say "no".  Again, it really boils down to whether the agreed on price properly reflects the age/condition of the property.  In this type of situation you might want to consider asking the seller to pay for some type of warranty for the items in question.  Not an ideal solution, but it might provide a more attractive way for the seller to mitigate your concerns about major repairs that may or may not be required in the next several years.

Actually, there are electronic Radon test units that will record peaks, valleys, averages, etc.  Also keep in mind that the test units are typically placed in the basement (I'm assuming that you have a basement) where the concentrations of Radon are almost always at their highest.  If I recall correctly the EPA recommended limit for mitigation is 4.0?  Does your state have a level where mitigation is mandatory or recommended?  I'm just asking because these are the things that the seller is going to consider.  Again, you can only ask.

It's difficult to determine what's "fair", and really the question might be what's the seller going to consider "reasonable" and appropriate.  I have zero insight into the sellers motivation so it's hard to say.  But if you think that's it reasonable then go ahead and ask!

We're currently in escrow on a property, our agent almost hit the floor when she heard our offering price, she didn't think we'd even get a response.  They countered.  When I gave her our counter she thought they'd try to meet us half way, instead, much to her surprise, they accepted.  And this morning we're going back to them with a price adjustment based on our inspections - by now she's on board with the program and geared up to make our case.  The point is, you never know, you can only ask.

And yes, I actually do eat a lot of rice, and I actually do run around yelling "TURN THAT LIGHT OUT!"  But then, I like rice and I recognize that we really do become our parents.  ;-)

Good Luck.
  • August 13 2011
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Profile picture for hypersloth
Thank you for the replies, I appreciate it greatly.

With the age of the plan, all we saw in our eyes was a 'newer' plan.  Less than 15 years old with all the new appeal and still holding up well, except for the cheaper house plans the owners seemed to let those ones go a bit.  The house is selling for 230, we got it down to 219. 

Sure we expect to have to do some things, the place we are selling will need a roof, furnance, ac etc - so I do not want to have to pay for those things TWICE in some form or another. 

The house also has some other things that with age brought the need to repair/replace.  My current place is completely remodeled with the exception of those items, so there is a draw to buy there however, I can't sell without warning that the furnance may go at any time and that we are selling at $119 and $8 assist toward furnance/ac/roof.

It's a fair price considering what others are selling around me for the same townhouse.

As for the house, the average house is from 220 to 400 in this plan.  This has a larger lot than most for some reason on the corner and has alot of appeal in several different places, except recently I realized that as it is a ryan home, the garage pad is only 19x19.  There is NO WAY my wife could park her car in there and my mid sized suv will fit which is only slightly bigger than her car by 6" wide.  I think this was another misrepresented item as this is not a double car garage, but..

we want to move toward family due so I can help out more.  We also haven't found anything in our price point (low to mid 200's) that we like in that area or school district.  It's a pretty small pocket and window of opportunity in my eyes.

Our gross total income is $110k with one child and another on the way, a long drive to work for both of us and all of the additional expenses that go with life.  Not to mention, we are going to carry both mortgages while our townhouse sells which I'm hoping it does within 9 months or I'm going to be eating alot of rice and running around yelling "TURN THAT LIGHT OUT!"

Oh and I found out the mitigation systems cost about $150 / year to run too. 

I also read an article that mid-low levels of radon is actually a good thing, because EVERYONE should have a mitigation system in place as those tests do not show what happens during spikes, how long spikes last or what have you so, a mitigation is a peace of mind that the seller must (or should) pay in order to close. 

As for the other items, do you think at least splitting the costs on those is fair?  $7k for roof $5.5 for ac $5.5 for furnace $1k for water heater = 19k / 2 = 8k off the price of the house + seller to install mitigation?
  • August 12 2011
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Certainly you have a right to request any negotiation that you feel fitting in your real estate transaction.  A roof is a capital expense, and certainly you should and can call for a roof inspection to determine if and how the roof may be repaired or serviced to extend its' life.  A new furnace is also a major improvement.  This home is beginning to sound like its' a bit of a fixer.
Your agent may be right and the price of the home is "good".  I would help you make an estimate of cost for all of the repairs and determine if you a) have the funds to make the repairs and b) how long you plan to stay in the home c) if you make the repairs will the value then be comparable with other homes in similar condition near or around the home you are purchasing?  These are all valuable considerations. 
Concerning Radon, it sounds like a personal call and should be further discussed with the professionals who made the report, while asking them for other professional resources or persons to provide opinions.  There is a wonderful website www.greenresourcecouncil.com that will provide a direction for this type of research and decision. 
When my clients objections start to mount, as yours have, I generally sit down with them to have them carefully consider whether they are moving in the right direction with the right property.  As an agent, I want to promote a sale but moreover, make sure that home is the right one for that customer. Sometimes getting a "deal" may not be worth the additional work and mitigation necessary to enjoy many successful years in that home.

  • August 12 2011
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Profile picture for minotau
Well you really haven't mentioned any significant, current issues have you?  When you agreed to a certain price you did that while knowing the age of the property, right?  You simply have to expect certain things in a property of a certain age, right?

In some areas of the country (where I'm from originally for instance) Radon is simply a fact of life.  We test for it and when it's high we mitigate for it.  I'm just saying that you shouldn't get too spooked by Radon.  Heck, I grew up breathing Radon and eating lead paint chips for snacks and look how I turned out!  Oh, wait....

Anyway, the Radon level is almost high enough to require mitigation, the roof is almost old enough to need to be replaced, the air/furnace are almost old enough to need to be repaired/replaced.  Again, I'd expect that the agreed on price would reflect the age of the property, does it?
  • August 12 2011
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Profile picture for deliaw

 It sounds you might be buying some future costly repairs: roof, furnace, water heater, leaking pipes?  Can you afford the cost of these repairs on top of your mortgage, insurance and tax payments? 
While you may not need a Radon mitigation system right now, and it may or may not  be needed it in the future.  Make sure you have some proper ventilation and that may help to reduce it. Have a test done each year to make sure it it is staying at that level or lower.
  • August 12 2011
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