Selling a House with Asbestos
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Trying to sell an older home can come with hassles. When you add in the potential presence of asbestos, it can make selling even more challenging. You may have seen those commercials warning about the dangers of asbestos, but do you know what asbestos is and how to deal with it if you find it in your home?
Here are the basics of what every homeowner needs to know about asbestos.
Key points from this article:
- Asbestos Identification – Asbestos, a heat-resistant mineral, was commonly used in building materials until the 1980s. Its presence in a home can pose serious health risks like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Identification requires professional testing as it's not visually discernible.
- Asbestos Abatement – If asbestos is found, abatement or remediation can be done to seal the asbestos, preventing its fibers from becoming airborne. In severe cases, complete removal is necessary.
- Cost of Removal – The cost of asbestos removal ranges nationally between $1,123 and $2,872, varying based on the extent of asbestos and location. Additional costs arise from replacing removed materials with safer alternatives.
- Legal Disclosure – It's legal to sell a home with asbestos, but disclosure to potential buyers is mandatory. Some regions require asbestos testing before listing a home on the real estate market.
Disclaimer – This article is not intended to provide medical or legal advice and is only for informational purposes. If you think you have asbestos in your home, it is best to consult a professional.
What is asbestos?
According to Asbestos.com, asbestos is “a group of six naturally occurring minerals composed of soft, flexible fibers that are heat-resistant.” While its effectiveness as an insulator has made it useful for constructing American homes dating back to the 19th century, asbestos poses a serious health risk when it ends up in the human body.
Although doctors have been aware of the dangers of asbestos for over a century, there is currently no full ban on asbestos in the US. The government enacted a series of laws in the 1970s and 1980s to limit the use of asbestos. However, products with a volume of less than 1% asbestos can still legally be used even today.
What problems can asbestos cause if someone is exposed to it?
While mesothelioma is the best-known effect of asbestos exposure, it's not the only health problem to be concerned about. Asbestos is also linked to ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer, and lung damage, including lung cancer.
How does asbestos get into houses?
Asbestos was a standard component of multiple different types of building materials until the 1980s. Home renovation projects can make an older house feel brand new, but they can also lead to asbestos exposure.
Walls, floors, siding, pipes, roof shingles, insulation, old wallpaper, and popcorn ceilings are typical habitats for asbestos, and drilling into, cutting up, and scraping at these parts can release toxic fibers into the air without anyone even noticing. It's imperative that you don't tamper with any area of your home that hasn't been tested for asbestos if you have reason to believe those components may contain asbestos.
|Common years of use*
|Walls / drywall
*Note that these listed above are the years the products were commonly used in these components and legal. The usage years listed do not mean a home can't have used the materials earlier or later than the dates listed. If you believe your home may have asbestos-based building materials, you should consult a professional.
What does asbestos look like?
If your house was built earlier than the 1980s, there is a good chance that it contains asbestos. Unfortunately, whether or not the material in your home is asbestos can't be determined by the naked eye. If you think you might have asbestos in your house, you can use the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program's directory to find a lab near you that can run a test.
How does asbestos testing work?
Many homeowners concerned about asbestos choose to go the less expensive route using DIY kits to collect samples and mail them to a lab. The tests usually range from $30-$60 per sample, but the low price comes at the cost of potential asbestos exposure.
It's much wiser to hire a professional to come to your house. The tester will safely extract a sample from your home and patch up the spot it was taken from to prevent exposure. Hiring outside assistance to perform an inspection will typically add up to a total cost of $400 to $800. Still, the higher price may be worth it to protect you and your family from harm.
What is asbestos abatement?
If any part of your home tests positive for asbestos, a trained professional can help eliminate its health threat. If the volume of asbestos isn't too high, they might opt for asbestos abatement, also known as asbestos remediation, in which the asbestos remains in the house but is sealed up to prevent it from leaking out into the air. More severe cases will require complete asbestos removal.
How much does it cost to remove asbestos from a home?
Nationally, on average, it costs somewhere between $1123 and $2872 to remove asbestos from a home. However, the cost may vary depending on where you live and how much asbestos must be removed. Removing wallpaper from a single room in a home will be less expensive than removing all of the sidings from the entire exterior.
Additionally, you will incur additional costs replacing the removed, asbestos-laced materials with safer, asbestos-free alternatives. For example, once the asbestos siding is removed from your home, you will need to replace it with new siding – and these costs can quickly add up.
Does homeowner's insurance cover the cost of asbestos abatement?
Unfortunately, homeowner's insurance usually does not cover any costs relating to asbestos. But it never hurts to contact your insurance provider before having any work done to be sure of whether or not coverage is provided.
Is it legal to sell a house with asbestos, and do you have to disclose the presence of asbestos to buyers?
It is legal to sell a house with asbestos. However, no matter where you live in the US, you must disclose that your house has asbestos before selling it and it will take the buyer some significant cost and work to remedy it. Some parts of the country even require all homes to be tested for asbestos before entering the real estate market.
What should you know about selling a home with asbestos?
It can be challenging to figure out whether it's more profitable to remove asbestos before selling or to leave it and accept that your house won't sell for as much as you'd like. In addition to navigating the legal requirements of selling a home that contains or may contain asbestos, real estate professionals can guide you in making decisions that get you the best possible price for your property.
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If you're looking to sell your home with asbestos quickly, AMI can help. We can make you a cash offer, close quickly, and cover your closing costs. Fill out this form to receive a no-obligation cash offer, regardless of what condition your home is in or what situation you are currently facing.