Test and Hazards
As of March 1, 2002, sellers of residences in New York are required to complete a property condition disclosure form. This is usually available on-line as part of the property description and documents. If not, I can get you a copy. When you make an offer on a house, you must sign this form acknowledging that you have read it.
My firm always recommends that our buyers hire a New York State licensed home inspector to do a general analysis of their prospective home, no matter what the age of the home. Call me for a list of my favorite inspectors.
The home inspector can also perform a test for radon gas, which can be an issue in the Finger Lakes region. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is emitted by certain types of soil, and it has been linked to lung cancer. It is found in many Finger Lakes homes and is something buyers often test for.
We have a lot of wooden homes and occasionally encounter damage from carpenter ants and other wood-eating insects. Your home inspector will look for evidence of insect infestation and call in a pest inspector if necessary. A separate test for termites is typically not done.
Many area homes contain asbestos in some form or another. The home inspector will bring to your attention materials that may contain asbestos, and you can follow up with additional tests of you choose. The local practice tends to be to encapsulate asbestos when it is found, rather than to remove it.
In accordance with federal law, sellers of houses built before 1978 must disclose any knowledge they have of lead paint in the home, and share with buyers the results of any tests they have done. Sellers must grant buyers a contingency period of ten days to perform their own tests if they choose. In fact, very few people (sellers or buyers) test for lead paint as it is very expensive. Buyers should assume that lead is present in older homes and take appropriate precautions.