Among the many forms you’ll be asked to sign when you buy a home is the Lead Based Paint disclosure. I’ve seen many clients give it just a cursory glance before signing it; rarely does anyone take the time to read it.
It’s an important disclosure, as it lets you know if there is lead-based paint on the walls, window sills and doors.
Why should you care?
Lead-based paint dust and chips can cause serious health problems, especially in kids. “Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead,” cautions the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths.”
A little history
Before 1978, lead-based paint was the most commonly used in new-home construction.
The EPA estimates that 87 percent of homes built before 1940, 69 percent of those built between 1940 and 1959 and 24 percent of homes built between 1960 and 1977 contain lead-based paint.
The older the home, the better the chance that it contains hazardous levels of lead. The use of lead-based paint was banned in the United States in 1978.
Homeowner disclosure requirements
Although federal law requires the home seller to disclose the presence of lead-based paint if the home was built prior to 1978, most offer the disclosure even for more recently built homes.
The seller is also required to give the buyer a pamphlet titled “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.”
The buyer must be allowed a 10-day period to inspect the paint in the home, but this time period may be adjusted by mutual agreement.
Despite seller disclosure duties, homebuyers are expected to exercise due diligence when purchasing a home. This means reading and understanding each form you sign during the transaction.
If the home was built before 1978 and the seller claims he or she has no knowledge of the presence of lead-based paint, you should hire a lead inspector to ensure that there is no lead present in the home.
You can search for Certified Inspection firms on the EPA’s website.
Will finding lead in the home kill the deal?
The presence of lead in the home doesn’t necessarily derail the purchase. The inspector should be able to provide you with an estimate on fixing the problem.
We can take this estimate to the seller and ask him or her to make the repairs before the close of escrow or request the amount required to remedy the situation as cash-back at the close of escrow and have the repairs performed after you move in.
Feel free to reach out to us if you need more information on this disclosure or other aspects of the home purchase or sale process.