The Impact of Asbestos on Property Value

The word asbestos is one that tends to raise a red flag for those interested in both buying and selling real estate. Whether it be a commercial building or a home, the existence of asbestos is notable and could have an impact on the value of your property. Having an understanding of where asbestos may be hiding and how it may influence buyers can help you make educated real estate decisions no matter which side you are on.   What is asbestos and why was it used? The mineral known as asbestos was once a common ingredient used in the construction industry. It was integrated into building materials because it was an inexpensive natural binding component that was immune to heat and other destructive threats. It was used in the construction roughly between the 1920s through the 1980s, until there was a widespread understanding of how asbestos exposure affected human health.   The problem with asbestos is that when ingested, it can lead to deadly diseases. In the mid-1900s, doctors realized there was a direct connection between exposure and the diagnosis of lung cancer and a lesser known cancer called mesothelioma. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would go on to issue rules against how asbestos could be used, and the substance was used less and less.   How will asbestos affect the value of your property? If you own an older home or property, there is a higher risk that asbestos exists in some form, and you should hire a professional to test for it. However, just because asbestos is present doesn’t mean that it is airborne and dangerous. Fibers are generally packed into asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and become friable if ACMs are broken apart.   Friable asbestos is dangerous and may occur from the general aging of a building or a home renovation. It can also be a liability for business owners who purchase office space. If renovations need to take place or an accident leaves asbestos exposed, those who own the property would be responsible for the health of occupants in the building.   For these reasons the existence of asbestos in a property can negatively affect the value. If the seller knows that asbestos is in the building or home, they have the option to remove it or disclose to potential buyers that hazardous materials are present. Many states require by law that sellers and landlords disclose the existence of asbestos if found. This may turn buyers away or allow them to negotiate a lower price. Those selling a property may want to obtain an estimate from an abatement professional of their choice, so that they are in control of the estimate when negotiating sale price. Those purchasing a property also have the option of hiring a professional, so that they may have the benefit of taking the estimated cost of abatement off the selling price.   Asbestos Abatement If property owners decide to have asbestos removed, they will need to hire a professional who knows how to properly handle and dispose of the material. When it comes to asbestos, DIY removal is not an option and can cause even bigger health and safety issues. Asbestos abatement experts know how to control and handle the toxicant so that no dangerous dust is further spread or left behind. Abatement companies and workers have to go through a qualified certification process, so owners can have peace of mind knowing the work is in the hands of professionals. Article Submitted by Molly McGuane – Communications Specialist, MAA Center

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