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Radon testing new in housing contracts
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Published: 12/28/2007 12:07 AM

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When a buyer and seller sign a contract on residential real estate property in Illinois on or after Jan. 1, 2008, the new Illinois Radon Awareness Act will apply to the sales transaction.

According to the new law, the seller must supply the buyer with two documents before the buyer will become bound on a contract to purchase the property. The first is a pamphlet from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) titled "Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions." The second is a form to sign called "Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards."

According to IEMA, radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that comes from naturally occurring uranium in the soil and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Realtors are working to educate consumers about the new radon law which affects certain residential real estate sales transactions entered on or after Jan. 1, 2008," said Piero Orsi, president of the Realtor Association of North West Chicagoland. "The law aims to boost radon awareness and does not require a radon test."

Although the new law does not require sellers to test for radon in the home or to reduce the concentration if elevated levels are found, the seller and buyer are free to negotiate whether further testing or remediation are necessary. In most cases, a seller will simply provide the two documents to the buyer before the contract takes effect.

The law only applies to residential properties with "not less than one nor more than four residential dwelling units." There are some exemptions including residential real estate property transfers that result from the following:

• A court order.

• Transfer to a mortgagor to a mortgagee after foreclosure.

• To a fiduciary through an estate, guardianship, conservatorship or trust.

• A transfer between co-workers.

• A transfer from an estate according to provisions in a will, or to statue where there is no will.

• Transfer to a spouse or other blood relation.

• A relocation company who has taken the title, where the original seller has provided the required disclosures.

• To or from a governmental body.

In addition, since the law is not effective until Jan. 1, 2008, it only applies to residential transactions entered on or after this date. If you have a contract pending that was signed prior to Jan. 1, 2008, the law will not apply.

"Your Realtor can provide you with the required disclosure form and information about where to find the radon pamphlet from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. To learn more, visit www.radon.illinois.gov or log onto www.YourIllinoisHome.com for other tips for "preparing your home for sale," said Orsi.