When a Realtor lists a home on the market, he or she needs to know a lot more than how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has, and if it’s close to a really great elementary school. Realtors should also be aware of environmental hazards that may be present in the home.
While the seller has a legal obligation to let buyers know that there may be hazardous substances or other potentially harmful issues with the property, savvy Realtors should also know what to look for.
For example, the following three hazards are just a few of the many problems Realtors should be aware of:
For years, asbestos was used in a variety of construction materials. A naturally-great insulator, asbestos is also fireproof. Because of its amazing insulating abilities, asbestos was added to the insulation that covers water pipes, heaters, and furnaces. It also was part of many linoleum floors, floor tiles and exterior siding.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to asbestos – it can cause a form of lung cancer called mesothelioma. As products that contain asbestos get older, it can splinter into small filaments that residents of the home will then breathe in. In general, homes that were built prior to 1978 should be checked for the presence of asbestos. If found, steps to eliminate asbestos should be taken.
2. Lead-based Paint
Several decades ago, lead was a common ingredient in both interior and exterior house paint, as well as water pipes and soldering. Once again, 1978 is the magic year for this toxic metal; many homes that were built before the late 1970s contain at least some lead, somewhere. Adults who are exposed to lead can develop serious symptoms like anemia and weakness, and kids who accidentally eat flakes of lead-based paint – like a toddler who is teething on the edge of a windowsill – can suffer from memory problems and delayed motor development.
Buyers, sellers, and Realtors should all be aware of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, which requires landlords and sellers to disclose any known risks to lead exposure, and allow the buyers to inspect for lead-based paint.
3. Old Electrical Systems
About one-third of the homes in the U.S. are at least 50 years old. Unfortunately, this means that around 30-plus million homes may potentially contain at least one type of problem. For example, older homes are notorious for having old electrical systems that are at least 40 years old. Over time, the wires can start to corrode, and the rubber that was used to cover them will get brittle and lead to problems. If the circuit breaker trips on a regular basis, if the electrical system smells or sounds really odd, or if the lights flicker, chances are good the home should be inspected by a reputable electrician.