Hints for Homebuyers

A recent article in the Washington Post offers practical guidance for homebuyers in search of a healthy home. The article focuses on those who are highly sensitive, but ideally, everyone should be aware of chemical hazards before purchasing a home.

For people who are seriously allergic or sensitive to common household chemicals, buying the right home is fraught with difficulty. But with a cooperative seller -- and some important protections written into the purchase contract -- the hazards can be manageable.

Highly sensitive buyers may need to avoid homes that have had any pesticide treatments; been recently painted; had repairs involving drywall, caulking, adhesives, glues or chemical finishes; had mold or moisture issues; or have elevated levels of radon. They may have to avoid homes with carpeting or that had smokers living there or air fresheners in use. Such buyers may think they are unique, but there are many people facing these issues. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy generally defines these concerns as Type I Hypersensitivity disorders, which are also sometimes called atopic allergies. According to the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge in England, some 20 to 30 percent of the population exhibits some Type I Hypersensitivity.

It is unlikely that most newly constructed homes will meet the requirements of a hypersensitive buyer because so many potentially troublesome products are used in the construction process. It may be better to focus on buying an existing allergy-free abode -- or a home that can be made "allergy-free."

Because the real estate contracting process is quite extensive, I highly recommend that hypersensitive buyers create an introductory contract addendum that they can present to sellers before even touring a home. That addendum would briefly explain Type I Hypersensitivity and the specific types of conditions that would eliminate the home as a potential match. In effect, it's a property disclosure and disclaimer form, which all sellers are required to provide to prospective buyers, only in reverse.

To read the full article, click here.