Consumer Reports: Are high radon readings a dealbreaker for homebuyers?

So you’re in the market to buy a house, and you think you’ve found the one. Then you order an inspection and find out the radon levels in the house are high. Should you walk away from the deal?

Consumer Reports says you don’t have to. Radon-related deaths are due to exposure over the course of a lifetime.

You should definitely take it seriously but you really don’t need to walk away from the home. It’s actually pretty easy to remove radon, and it’s not that expensive. Home inspections often include testing for radon using short term kits. But since radon levels in a home can vary over time, it pays to follow up with your own test.

Consumer Reports recommends the RTCA 4Pass, which will get you results in a week or less, for $23. For a better representation — tests of at least 90 days — the Accustar Alpha for $25. If levels read between 2 and 4 picocuries per liter, consider fixing your home. For about $1,200 you can remove radon by installing a pipe that vents it from the soil out through the roof.

And don’t forget: you can always use the expense of fixing the radon problem as a bargaining chip. You should also know that in some states home sellers may be required by law to disclose the radon test results to other potential buyers on a seller’s disclosure form.