House purchase advice

wemorgan

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I'm trying a bit of therapeutic venting here.......

I'm in the process of buying a house. The offer was accepted, solicitor appointed, searches made, mortgages applied and approved.

A search game back saying that there was a 30% chance of the house having radon levels above acceptable levels.

I requested a radon report from the vendor, who moved in in 2006. They did not have one.

I consulted the Health Protection Agency whose advice is clear: UKradon :: Radon and house sales

Buyers:
Ask the current owners if they have completed a three month radon test
If so ask for a copy of the report
If not, discuss a retention with your solicitor and test when you move in. See our fact sheet Measuring Radon


Sellers in Affected Areas:
If you have previously tested your property, find the result (Contact your test provider if necessary).
If you have not tested, the new owner will be advised to do so when they move in
You and your solicitor should be prepared to be asked about a retention.


Retention - what you need to know:
A retention is a sum of money held back from the sale to help with remedial costs
The typical remediation cost is £1000
A typical retention sum is between £500 and £2000
The money is initially held by one of the solicitors for a period of six months, to allow time for moving in, the three month test, analysis and receipt of the report
If the result is below the Action Level, the money goes to the seller
If the result is higher, the money pays for remedial works and a timescale is agreed to allow for the works and a further test
Any surplus money goes to the seller.


A retention may not be suitable when:
The buyers are planning to carry out major building work as soon as they move in
The buyers are not planning to move in straight away.

I requested a retention via my solicitor and the vendor has rejected it.

I've now asked the estate agent to intervene to broker a deal.

I can't think what else I can do. I've paid for expert advice and am following it. I feel I'm being very reasonable here.

Am I?
 
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developer

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Hello Will,

It's a buyers market at the mo and they are few and far between.



I'd be surprised if your vendor would risk losing you over a report.



Get the agent (who really really doesn't want the sale to fall through) to arbitrate on your behalf and stand your ground.



Worse case, you capitulate and pay for the survey, but you're not at that stage yet.


The results of the survey might alter your purchase decision but you need to obtain it first.
 
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wemorgan

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A Radon survey takes 3 months. You place a small sensor in your living room, then post back to the lab for analysis.

The survey costs £50 which I am more than happy to pay for, as I have for al the other searches and structural survey.

This why a 6 month retention is recommended. It gives the buyer time for this survey and then if necessary time for any remedial works.
 

Charles Morgan

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How much would a survey cost? - I assume it has to be done over a 3 month period though. EDIT - you posted just before I did.

Having lived in Cornwall in a granite house Radon is a big issue there and a 30% probability is a bit too high to wing it.

The alternative to a retention is simply to lower your offer. Solicitors can be extremely bad at communicating these points - going through the sellers agent is probably a lot more sensible. Some people do however think that any request is unreasonable so there is not a lot you can do about that.
 
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Will, you are being more than reasonable.

On the contrary, it's the vendor that is being a tad unfair.

Feel free to disregard this question but what is the purchase price?
 
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wemorgan

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Cards on the table:

My original offer was a £3000 retention.

I am willing to have this negotiated lower to £2000 or even £1000 at a push.

Or as Charles suggest reduce the offer price. I think a £1000 reduction is reasonable. But if I was the vendor I'd prefer the retention, as in probability they will most if not all of it returned. The reduction in asking prices is clearly a singular hit they would have to take.

The vendors are OAPs and I just feel that their solicitor has not clearly explained the retention process to them. They possibly may feel I'm trying to pull a fast one. Far from it.

We'll see what tomorrow brings after the estate agent has spoken to the solicitor.

This is all such a nonsense and time wasting sadly.

sweetpea: The retention is small compared to the purchase price. I just feel that having paid for expert advice I should take it. If I don't, then when I come to sell I will surely have the same questions put to me by my future buyer.
 
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If the vendor is serious about rejecting your grounds for radon testing, you have to ask yourself why. If the remedial action is put on retention and the tests prove negative, then they get the agreed price. If the vendor is dead against it, perhaps he/she know full well the house will fail the test!

Also, it would not surprise me if something like 30% of all dwellings in the UK have radon measurements higher than is really healthy. It's a widespread problem. It is how the problem is dealt with that matters.
 

davidjpowell

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Does your solicitor have any knowledge of the area? A lot of these tests are highly subjective and are predisposed to return higher risk levels. Local knowledge can be key.

Let the agents get involved, but not forgetting that they are acting for the vendor.

it is a buyers Market, but not so much when you are this far in to a purchase
 
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wemorgan

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30% is the highest rating as given by the HPA

clickable map:

UKradon :: Map

I lived in Dartmoor in the mid 90s and was given a free sensor to measure the Radon levels. The results came back as OK. So I'm surprised no previous test has been done on this property considering its in the highest level bracket.

David: My solicitor is not local, but he has put similar clauses in contracts before, so is well aware of the procedure and considers it relatively common.
 
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Mercy1

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The onus for sorting out this problem lies fairly and squarely with the seller. You simply cannot sell a house, or anything else, without the necessary paperwork being in order.
The estate agent should diplomatically point out to the seller that if you walk away the next potential buyer will also probably do the same.
Which leaves a big problem for the seller - his property is more or less unsaleable!
Stand your ground...he'll come to his senses sooner or later,,,
 

kth286

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you state above that the remedial works will cost approx £1,000.

as you have already invested a significant sum on this purchase already, are you willing to lose the cost for £1,000 ?

Why not send the Vendors a nice letter with your arguments and this will show them you are a nice guy.

Check out the rest of the chain also, and find out how everybody is placed,
in terms of exchanging contracts.

Be prepared to exchange is my opinion.
 

Aoraki

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I personaly would not consent to a retention. Why should the seller be out of pocket for 6 months? Would you pay interest on the amount witheld? If I sold you a car with 6 months MOT would you want a retention for the next 6 months until it passed the next MOT?
 

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Additionally, the seller will have this revealed by any potential buyer's survey, which the agent should be advising him.
 

Mercy1

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I personaly would not consent to a retention. Why should the seller be out of pocket for 6 months? Would you pay interest on the amount witheld? If I sold you a car with 6 months MOT would you want a retention for the next 6 months until it passed the next MOT?

He'll be out of pocket for more than six months if nobody will touch his house!!:dk:
 
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wemorgan

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I personaly would not consent to a retention. Why should the seller be out of pocket for 6 months? Would you pay interest on the amount witheld? If I sold you a car with 6 months MOT would you want a retention for the next 6 months until it passed the next MOT?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts behind that comment.

I'm not sure the car analogy is appropriate. The potential level of Radon is a risk today. It is only because the test to measure it takes 3 months that the retention is being proposed. If it could be measured in 1 day then I agree it would not be relevant.

The seller puts on hold a portion of money because the house they are selling is not yet fully described. Only once all the facts are established can a value be agreed.
 

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I wouldn't worry at all most of this Radon scaremongering is just hype and I'll tell you why as this is bang in my field of mineral expertise. Radon is produced from naturally occurring Uranium in the soils and sub soils as such it is classed as ionising radiation which starts panic and fear in everybody.

The people who are most exposed to radon are uranium miners for obvious reasons in health studies of these miners over the years there is no evidence linking ill health to exposure to radon, this is true of USA, Australia and Africa. A quote from the study

"Studies by radiation physicists Ralph Lapp and Bernard Cohen, along with work by several other researchers, have consistently demonstrated no correlation between radon exposure and lung cancer"

There are loads of contractors offering remedial action, radon protection and guess what you can't protect against it the best remedy is ventilation, dilution of air is the best answer.

So even with a radon chance above 30% if that is true there is nothing you can do about it anyway as all the so called "proven methods" don't work and the only way is to ensure regular air changes and airflow through the house.

If you are genuinely that worried about Radon then I would give this house a miss altogether but most of the radon info is all scare and hype. There are far greater dangers to worry about than this like dioxins in soil and sub soil for instance.

Radon does not make it into the WHO list called the dirty dozen.

Just my opinion and I am sure there are plenty of opinions that say otherwise but I personally would not worry about radon.
 

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He'll be out of pocket for more than six months if nobody will touch his house!!:dk:

It just seems to me that in this day and age, everyone wants to withhold payment or want a substantial discount or hold someone responsible for something or other.
On a side note, I have never been asked for a Radon report on a house I've sold, don't know how much of a problem Radon is in Notts?
 
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wemorgan

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Thanks Ian.

All the suggested remedial works as recommended by the HPA are simply linked to ventilation as you suggest. Some are passive vents, others forced air vents.

UKradon :: Reducing your risk

It's not major work in the grand scheme of things, but more a point of principal. I've paid for expert advice and am now following it.

I feel I'm only doing what one day my potential buyer will do to me.
 
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wemorgan

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It just seems to me that in this day and age, everyone wants to withhold payment or want a substantial discount or hold someone responsible for something or other.
On a side note, I have never been asked for a Radon report on a house I've sold, don't know how much of a problem Radon is in Notts?

That's a fair comment. In my example I've offered 99% of the advertised asking price.

All I ask for now is an insurance policy, not even a discount, if as I hope the Radon report says all is OK.

Radon map for Notts: UKradon :: Map

I appreciate your view as it's interesting to get in to the mindset of the vendor :)
 

flango

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Thanks Ian.

All the suggested remedial works as recommended by the HPA are simply linked to ventilation as you suggest. Some are passive vents, others forced air vents.

UKradon :: Reducing your risk

It's not major work in the grand scheme of things, but more a point of principal. I've paid for expert advice and am now following it.

I feel I'm only doing what one day my potential buyer will do to me.

I agree if you are given expert advice then it's best to take it and yes you probably will be in this position when you come to sell. I don't think it is unreasonable at all what you are doing and would be amazed if the seller would lose a sale over this.

Anyway good luck hope it works out.
 

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