What Are Potential Environmental Concerns to Look Out for When Purchasing a New Property?
When you plan to invest in property in Annapolis, Maryland, it is crucial to be aware of the potential environmental hazards that could affect your investment. While most home buyers focus on aesthetics and structural integrity, environmental considerations are often overlooked. However, they can significantly impact the property’s value and the quality of life for its residents.
An environmental audit is a comprehensive assessment of a property to identify any environmental hazards or liabilities. This process involves soil and groundwater testing, checking for hazardous materials, and evaluating the property’s compliance with environmental regulations. It is a crucial step in buying a property as it uncovers potential issues that might not be visible to the naked eye.
There are several environmental issues that prospective buyers should know. Here are three examples:
- Soil contamination: Soil can become contaminated due to previous industrial use of the land, pesticide use, or leaking underground oil tanks. This contamination can pose health risks to residents and may be expensive to remediate.
- Lead-based paint: If you look at homes built before the late 1970s, they may contain lead-based paint. This paint can be hazardous if it begins to chip or deteriorate, and exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, particularly in children.
- Asbestos: Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials until the 1980s. Asbestos fibers can become airborne if disturbed and pose a serious health risk. Asbestos abatement can be a costly process and should be handled by professionals.
Who Bears the Cost of Remediation?
The question of who bears the cost of environmental remediation can be complex and often depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the property transaction. Here are a few scenarios to illustrate how this could play out:
- Discovery before purchase: Suppose a buyer performs an environmental audit before closing the deal and discovers soil contamination from a leaking underground oil tank. In this case, the buyer can negotiate with the seller to handle the remediation before finalizing the transaction. This is the most straightforward scenario where the seller, as the current property owner, is directly responsible for the cleanup.
- Negotiated responsibility: In another scenario, the buyer might still want to purchase despite the identified environmental issue. However, they can negotiate a lower purchase price to account for the expected remediation costs. Here, the buyer willingly takes on the remediation responsibility, but at a reduced cost for the property.
- Discovery after purchase: If the buyer discovers an environmental issue after the purchase, the situation becomes more complicated. If it can be proven that the seller was aware of the problem and did not disclose it, the buyer may have legal recourse against the seller. However, if the seller was genuinely unaware of the issue, the buyer, as the new property owner, might be responsible for the remediation costs.
Each scenario underscores the importance of conducting a thorough environmental audit before purchasing a property. It is also crucial to involve a real estate attorney to protect your rights and interests. The attorney can help negotiate the terms of the sale and guide you through any potential legal issues arising from environmental concerns.
An Annapolis Real Estate Lawyer at Oliveri & Larsen Can Help You Understand Potential Environmental Concerns
Home buyers must consider environmental concerns when considering a new property. Speak with an Annapolis real estate lawyer at Oliveri & Larsen today. Contact us online or call us at 410-295-3000 to schedule a consultation. Located in Annapolis, Maryland, we serve clients in Ocean City, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Calvert County, Harford County, Howard County, Queen Anne’s County, St. Mary’s County, Worcester County, Kent County, and the upper and lower Eastern Shores of Maryland.