You won't find any asbestos in most of the products made today. In fact, if your house was built after 1978, you probably don't have asbestos. However, many of the products used to build your home before then may have contained this fibrous material.
The problem is, there is really no way to tell if certain products used in constructing your home had asbestos. Back then, there was nothing preventing companies from using materials containing asbestos.
Today's regulations don't allow manufacturers to use it in their materials. However, the only way to tell if your home has asbestos is by hiring a certified professional who will inspect your home for toxins.
So, is it legal to sell a house if it does have asbestos? The short answer is yes.
Selling a House With Asbestos
It's not illegal to sell a house with asbestos. Obviously, buyers would much rather buy a home with no asbestos concerns. However, outside of a thorough inspection, there is no way to tell if a home contains this potentially toxic material.
If you know your house has asbestos, you must disclose the information to buyers. Again, it's not illegal to sell a home with asbestos, but you can be liable for not disclosing the information to the buyer if you knew it was present beforehand.
Every state has its own laws for disclosing information to buyers. However, all states require you to disclose any information related to asbestos. In some states, you may be required to have your home tested for its presence before you can sell your home. It's always best to talk with a local real estate professional who knows the disclosure laws in your state.
Will a Traditional Home Inspection Find Asbestos?
A home inspection is almost always required during the home buying and selling process. The only exception is a cash transaction where the buyer and seller agree not to order an inspection. Although these inspections are thorough, they typically don't include inspecting a home for toxins.
Some home inspection companies offer complete services that include testing for toxins. However, these companies typically charge for this type of testing as an “add-on” service, which means you could skip the testing (if your state doesn't require one) and have the company complete a regular inspection.
Materials That May Contain Asbestos
If you're concerned your house may contain asbestos, they're some areas you can inspect that could signal trouble (if your home was built in the 70s or before). Keep in mind there's no way to know if materials contain the fiber just by looking.
First off, if materials that may contain asbestos are in good shape, there is no danger. The fibers from asbestos must be airborne before it becomes a health hazard. Experts say to leave areas in good shape alone.
However, if you see damaged material such as water damage, abrasions, or tears, you need to have a professional analyze a sample to determine if asbestos is present. So, what areas should you be inspecting?
The most suspect material is your home's insulation. Most of the insulation in houses built before the late 70s had asbestos. Other areas you should inspect for damage or wear and tear include vinyl floor tiles, heating ducts, boilers and boiler pipes, cement siding, and popcorn ceilings.
Experts recommend not to touch or aggravate any materials you suspect may contain the toxin. Remember, asbestos is harmless when it remains undisturbed. However, if you disturb the area, it could cause fibers from the asbestos to become airborne. If you breathe in those fibers, they can attach themselves to your lungs and remain there for many years.
The Bottom Line
If you want to increase the odds of selling your home for the most money, you should have asbestos professionally removed if you suspect it's present. Some potential buyers may ask you to complete an inspection or have it removed before they buy your house.
In these instances, it's best to have an experienced real estate agent on your side. Our professional network of Clever Partner Agents will help you navigate the required legal disclosures.
Our Partner Agents also know how to find professional inspectors who specialize in testing and removing toxic materials from a home.
If you're not sure what to do about asbestos in your home, you need an expert Clever Partner Agent who can help you expedite the selling process by eliminating any potential home buyer concerns.