Montgomery County MD to Require Radon Tests for All Closings

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster DC AB15253


Before October 1, 2016, the standard sales contract in Montgomery County has an optional radon inspection which a buyer can include in the offer to purchase. If the house tests with an elevated radon level, the buyer can declare the contact void or request that the seller remediate the radon levels.  If the seller agrees to remediate, the contract remains in place and the purchase moves forward.  If the seller says no, the buyer can decide to continue with the purchase or terminate it. 

The Montgomery County Council recently passed a new law over opposition from the local real estate board which becomes effective October 1, 2016 and will require all single family homes in Montgomery County to be tested for radon before closing. The law does not require that well water be tested for radon if the home is on well water. The law also does not require remediation if the radon levels are above 4.0.  

State law already required disclosure of known elevated radon levels, but the new law makes testing mandatory prior to the sale of any single family homes after October 1, 2016. GCAAR (the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors) succeeded in lobbying for several amendments to the law before its final passage, including exemptions for estate sales,foreclosures and demolitions. GCAAR also fought to ensure that the new requirements could be met by the seller using a radon test kit which is commercially available.  Kits start at about $25.00.  GCAAR is in the process of updated the standard forms to reflect the new requirement.

You can read the specific requirements of the new law here.  While the testing is mandatory it seems that the seller can do an anticipatory test within a year in advance of closing or the buyer can perform the test. If the test results are in excess of 4 picocuries, then a licensed contractor must be consulted to determine the cost of remediation to reduce the radon levels below 2 picocuries, but the remediation does not have to take place before closing.  There also are no specific penalties for failure to comply with the new law. 

When working with a buyer, I generally ask on behalf of my client that the house be tested for radon and if the radon levels are above four that the remediation take place.  I recently had a home which tested around 11, and the buyer was very upset and concerned that the radon could not be remediated below 1.  In fact, the radon remediation company was able to bring the test results below 1 and everyone was very happy at closing.  

Radon is an issue in Montgomery County but levels are not typically excessive and the radon levels can easily fixed.  I am going to start advising all my seller clients to test for radon in advance of putting homes on the market.  In that way, if the home tests for elevated radon levels, it is easy to reduce the radon levels to an acceptable level before a potential buyer becomes anxious and might consider voiding the contract. In addition a three month radon test is infinitely more reliable than a two day test, which can be affected by seasonal changes and increased humidity in the air. 


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  1. Roy Kelley 08/26/2016 06:00 PM
Local News and Events
Maryland Montgomery County
radon law
montgomery county md radon testing required
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Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

I wonder what started this Lise? Where there a whole slew of positive tests?

Aug 22, 2016 01:24 PM #1
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Good morning Lise.  I'm with Noah Seidenberg on this one, what started this?

Aug 22, 2016 08:11 PM #2
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Interesting that this is now a requirement in your area. We have a fair amount of homes with higher than EPA-recommended radon readings. I wonder if testing will become required here as well.

Aug 22, 2016 08:47 PM #3
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I hope home sellers in the area will read this post . Thanks for sharing.

Aug 22, 2016 09:13 PM #4
Lise Howe
Long and Foster - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

- we do not have an excessively high level of radon in this area and when it is high it is generally around 5 or 6 not 40 or 100.  I understand that in areas of Pennsylvania the numbers are very high but that is not the case here. Noah Seidenberg - we are the nanny state here. Sellers also have to provide utilities for the previous year if the house was owner occupied for  the previous 12 months.  Utility records are absolutely meaningless - the way you live in a house will be different than the way a family of 6 with two children under the age of 2 or someone who runs a small business from their home with a private server running in the garage. 

Aug 22, 2016 09:20 PM #5
Lise Howe
Long and Foster - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

James Dray - I honestly do not know what started this - we do not have a lot of radon and it is not at an excessive level. 

Aug 22, 2016 09:21 PM #6
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

This is excellent information to share.

Have an outstanding week.

Aug 22, 2016 09:40 PM #7
Lise Howe
Long and Foster - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

Thanks Roy Kelley  for stopping by - I had heard they were thinking of doing this and was surprised to see this had actually passed. 

Aug 22, 2016 09:42 PM #8
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

That sounds like a scary thing and it is definitely best to be safe, rather than sorry.

Aug 22, 2016 11:51 PM #9
Paul S. Henderson, CRS, REALTOR®,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

Better safe than sorry when it comes to my family!

Have a safe, productive day Lise Howe!

Aug 23, 2016 12:02 AM #10
Bruce Walter
Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana - West Lafayette, IN

Lise, that is important news for buyers and sellers in Montgomery County, MD to know about as it will impact them after October 1st this Fall.

Lise our radon levels are not that high when they fail the test.  The highest I have ever seen was 38.  Most of the tests that fail average around 5-6.

Aug 23, 2016 01:41 AM #11
Boyd Campbell
Silver Spring, MD
Managing Broker Century 21 New Millennium

My market and here we go again. I struggle to understand were government intervention or interference is in fact the case. I am wholly for protecting the buying consumer but were does the expense of such burden the selling consumer? Is this a case of an overzealous government taking advantage of an easy target? Could or should the buying consumer decide, fund and orchestrate the testing as they see the need or not?

Aug 23, 2016 05:39 AM #12
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Lise radon testing is not mandatory here yet, but if it is becoming mandatory else where it will most likely happen here as well.

Aug 23, 2016 08:49 AM #13
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Lise Howe Hopefully, the required radon test policy will benefit everyone in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Aug 23, 2016 10:56 AM #14
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Lise- we had radon tests when we bought and sold our home in Northern VA.  And, as I recall the level tested could have been affected by how much rain, if any, we'd had.  

Aug 24, 2016 02:41 AM #15

Lise, this is a great post.

Do you know if the radon test resulting the property has radon. But the buyer did not include radon contingency in the contract. Can the buyer void the contract and getting back the EMD?
Understand that if radon contingency is included, buyer has the right, but this case - radon contingency isn't included.

Oct 06, 2016 12:05 AM #16
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Lise Howe

Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,
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