There are many aspects to resolve and check before you agree to conclude any real estate deal and one area that needs your very close attention, and also due diligence from your property lawyer, is the subject of any environment issues relating to the land or building you are looking to purchase.
Always ask the question
Before you buy and at a very early stage of the transaction, you need to ask the seller and any real estate professional involved in the sale, whether they are currently aware of any environmental problems relating to the property. You should be aware that the seller at this stage is under no obligation to volunteer any specific information but they are required to answer any question truthfully. If the seller denies knowledge of any problem and an issue subsequently comes to light, even after you have concluded the deal, then they could be liable to prosecution.
What to ask
Ask the seller if the property has any underground sewerage tanks or septic systems and if so, what their present condition is like. Land contamination is a major issue and any problems that need underground work will likely involve substantial costs, so due caution is always advised in this particular area, if you want to avoid a potential financial meltdown and maybe even a protracted legal battle. You also need to ask the seller about several other key issues that could affect the value of the property either now or in the future.
The quality of the water supply is a common concern and even a basic water test will quickly reveal the water hardness, PH, the presence of any fluoride, sodium, manganese and iron whilst also identifying any harmful bacteria such as E-coli.
If Radon is present is surrounding soil or possibly well water, then it can lead to a source of Radon that is present in the home as well. Radon is a gas that is a by-product of the natural decay of uranium that is present in our earth and whilst most homes have some level of Radon present, it is advisable to check the levels in case a reduction or mitigation system has to be installed if the readings are too high.
You should be aware that toxic mold can be the cause of structural damage to a property and also has personal health implications. Molds are fungi that reproduce through releasing tiny spores into the air, and these spores may grow if they land on moist objects. It is advisable to check for this when surveying the property.
Many of us are now aware of the problems associated with asbestos, which was widely used in previous construction methods due to its building qualities and insulation properties. The risk involved with having asbestos present arises as a result of accidental damage or disturbance to the material which then releases harmful asbestos fibers into the air and could be inhaled by anyone within the property or area damaged. Asbestos removal is a specialist job and can be very expensive as there are high disposal costs due to environmental concerns, so make sure that you ask if there is any asbestos in the property.
Many lenders now consider environmental issues as part of their application process so you will most likely need to address any problems before you are granted a loan, but however you are financing a real estate deal, always ask plenty of questions in order to avoid any financial disasters in the future. A good start would be to enter the ZIP code of the property you are looking at buying into the database run by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and check out any local known environmental issues so you can ask some relevant questions to the seller.
Aaron Trussell is an environmental researcher. He enjoys sharing his insights and findings on business blogs. Learn about Environmental Data Resources, visit the link.