Thinking of selling your home?
You’re probably looking forward to finding a new home but also worried about fetching top dollar for your current home. A lot can go wrong during the sales process—will it close on time? What will the inspection find? Will I need a top-up mortgage?
But if your home was built before 1980, you may have another problem to contend with – asbestos. Selling a home with asbestos can be difficult. After all, it’s a known carcinogenic, which means asbestos can potentially pose health risks to the new owner.
Which brings up the question; should you get asbestos removed before selling? If not, what options do I have?
Keep reading to find out!
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. It’s commonly used in building and industrial products due to its heat, fire, and chemical-resistant properties. With qualities like these, it’s no wonder the mineral is added to insulation materials like caulk, roofing shingles, and floor tiles.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to asbestos poses serious health risks and can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and pleural disease. Some of these conditions don’t show up immediately until 20 to 30 years after exposure. Because of these risks, buyers are often disinclined to buy properties with asbestos.
Do You Need to Get Asbestos Removed Before Selling a House?
In short, No.
It isn’t illegal to sell a house with asbestos in the US. Asbestos that’s undamaged or intact isn’t dangerous. In many cases, asbestos can remain undamaged in a house without posing any health risks for many years or needing to be removed.
You’d, however, need to have it removed if it’s damaged or deteriorating. Conducting an asbestos survey can help determine whether asbestos in your home needs to be removed. While you don’t have to remove asbestos before selling, you do have to disclose it. Many states require the presence of asbestos to be disclosed in the seller’s disclosure. Seller disclosure laws vary by state. In Florida, for example, state laws require sellers to disclose any facts or condition of the house that impacts its value or desirability.
Sellers are required to disclose many things, including the presence of environmental hazards like asbestos, any problems with home structure, history of infestations, zoning violations, etc. Failure to disclose this information could result in potential lawsuits.
For more information on this, check out this guide on home sellers’ full disclosure requirements.
What Options Do You Have?
Homeowners with asbestos in their homes have two options:
- Removing the asbestos (abatement)
- Sealing or Covering the Asbestos
Removing the Asbestos (Abatement)
With abatement, professionals completely remove and dispose of asbestos in your home. Abatement is an expensive and time-consuming process.
And since the process involves “disturbing and damaging” asbestos, which increases the danger, the asbestos removal contractor requires you, your family, and your pets not to be present when it happens. The process can take up to 48 hours before your home is safe again.
Sealing or Covering the Asbestos
As mentioned, asbestos is only dangerous if disturbed. As such, it’s safer to have it sealed rather than removed. Professionals normally use a high-grade sealant to cover asbestos, which helps to seal it, minimizing the risks and costs of containing it.
Things to Know Before Selling a House with Asbestos
The presence of asbestos can impact your home in many ways.
Asbestos and Mortgages
Securing a mortgage is a critical step in the process of real estate transaction. The lender will want to know the condition of the property before they can pre-qualify the buyer for a mortgage.
If you’re selling a house with asbestos, this may not be a good thing for the buyer. While pre-approval requirements vary from lender to lender, the presence of asbestos could prevent a buyer from obtaining a mortgage, particularly if the asbestos is badly damaged.
Asbestos and Insurance
If you opt for asbestos removal, you’ll have to cover the expenses. Standard home insurance policies don’t cover the routine removal of asbestos. Homes with asbestos are insurable under building insurance policies.
Asbestos and Property Prices
The type, quantity, and condition of asbestos may affect the property’s price. Buyers may negotiate a lower price because of the presence of asbestos. You might want to consider having it removed if you want to fetch top dollar for the property.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral commonly used in building and other industrial projects. If your home was built before 1980, chances are it contains asbestos. Asbestos poses no health risks if it’s not damaged or disturbed. If you’re concerned about asbestos in your property, you can choose to have it removed or sealed.
However, if disturbed or in a deteriorating condition, asbestos can cause cancer and other serious health conditions. The presence of asbestos can also impact the buyer’s ability to secure a mortgage and lower the price of a property.