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Can You Sell a House With Asbestos in Texas?

Selling a house is a significant endeavor, with numerous steps and considerations. However, when asbestos is involved, the process can become even more complicated.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber once prized for its durability and fire resistance. It has been widely used in construction materials like insulation, roofing materials, and floor tiles. However, now it is known that asbestos fibers can pose significant health risks if airborne and inhaled. Consequently, asbestos-containing materials in a home can be a considerable concern for sellers and potential buyers.

The laws and regulations surrounding selling a house with asbestos materials are stringent in Texas. In addition to addressing the practical considerations of the sale, homeowners must also fulfill legal requirements to ensure compliance with state laws. The health of potential buyers, after all, is a considerable concern.

This article explores the implications of selling a house with asbestos in Texas. It is important to understand the health implications of asbestos, the legal requirements for disclosure, and practical steps you can take to ensure a smooth transaction. Whether you are a home buyer or seller, this can help you make informed decisions more confidently. 

What You Need to Know About Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals composed of thin, needle-like fibers. Renowned for its strength, insulating properties, and resistance to heat and corrosion, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry. 

Asbestos is quite versatile and found its way into a multitude of building materials. It was commonly used in residential construction from the early 20th century until the late 1970s.

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure

Despite its valuable properties, asbestos poses significant health risks. When asbestos materials are disturbed, tiny fibers can become airborne and be inhaled. The needle-like asbestos fibers can lodge into tissues, causing damage. If the exposure is prolonged, it can lead to serious health problems. 

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic health risk caused by prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers. These fibers irritate and scar lung tissue, causing progressive lung damage. The scarring reduces the lung’s ability to expand and contract. You’ll experience breathing difficulties, persistent cough, and chest tightness. 

Symptoms of asbestosis typically develop years or even decades after inhalation. It is a progressive condition that is often diagnosed when it can’t be cured. Asbestosis is irreversible and can progress even after asbestos exposure has ceased. 

Lung Cancer

Asbestos exposure significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. When asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs, they can cause genetic mutations in lung cells, leading to the uncontrolled growth of cancerous tumors. Smokers face an even higher risk, as the combined effects of smoking and asbestos fibers can multiply the carcinogenic effects.

Asbestos-related lung cancer typically develops years or even decades after exposure. Symptoms include persistent coughing, chest pain, hoarseness, and unexplained weight loss. The prognosis is generally poor. Early detection and treatment are crucial for improving outcomes. 

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that affects the mesothelium. This is a thin layer of tissue covering the lungs, abdomen, and other internal organs. 

The condition is exclusively linked to asbestos fibers, with the majority of cases occurring in individuals who have worked in industries where asbestos exposure is common. 

Mesothelioma has a poor prognosis, as it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when treatment options are limited. The latency period for mesothelioma can be exceptionally long, with symptoms usually not manifesting until 20 to 50 years after exposure.

Common Locations of Asbestos Fibers in Homes

Identifying potential hazardous materials in your home is essential for ensuring safety. Common locations include:

  • Insulation: Asbestos was widely used in pipe, duct, and attic insulation. Vermiculite insulation, often found in attics, can also contain asbestos.
  • Roofing and Siding: Asbestos cement roofing shingles, sheets, and siding were popular due to their durability and fire resistance.
  • Flooring: Asbestos was used in vinyl and linoleum floor tiles, and the adhesives used to secure them. Older homes may still have these materials in place.
  • Cement Products: Asbestos was mixed with cement to create robust and fire-resistant building materials for various structural applications.
  • Ceiling Materials: Popcorn ceilings and ceiling tiles installed before the 1980s often contain asbestos.
  • Textured Paints and Coatings: Some older textured paints and spray-on coatings contained asbestos for added fire resistance.
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Both federal and state laws regulate the disclosure of any asbestos material in residential properties.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces regulations related to asbestos handling and disclosure at the federal level. 

It does so primarily through the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA), and the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)

These laws primarily focus on asbestos in public and commercial buildings but also provide guidelines for residential properties.

In Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) oversees asbestos regulations, including those related to residential properties. 

If there are no specific state laws requiring homeowners to disclose asbestos, sellers must comply with federal regulations and disclose known asbestos hazards to potential buyers.

Texas Property Code

Under the Texas Property Code, sellers are legally obligated to disclose the presence of asbestos in residential properties. 

Section 5.008 of the Texas Property Code requires sellers to give potential buyers written notice disclosing any known hazardous materials in the property. This disclosure must be made before signing a contract for the sale of the property.

While the code does not mention it, asbestos-containing materials are considered hazardous. 

Given the large number of older homes and industrial sites, Houston has stringent regulations for asbestos. 

Sellers should be aware of the following:

  • Disclosure Obligations: Full disclosure of asbestos presence in residential properties is mandatory.
  • Permitting and Abatement: Obtain necessary permits for asbestos abatement and ensure only licensed professionals perform these tasks.
  • Health and Safety Compliance: Follow Houston Health Department guidelines to ensure the safety of current and future occupants.

Steps to Take When Selling a House With Asbestos

Before listing your house for sale, it’s crucial to know if asbestos is present, especially if it was built before the 1980s.

If you suspect or know about its presence, hire a certified inspector to assess the extent and condition of asbestos material.

Options for Asbestos Removal 

There are two ways to remedy the presence of asbestos in your home: encapsulation and removal. 

Encapsulation involves sealing asbestos-containing materials with a protective coating to prevent fibers from becoming airborne. It is an effective solution if the asbestos is in good condition and not likely to be disturbed. This remedy is less invasive and generally less expensive than removal. However, ongoing monitoring is required to ensure the encapsulation remains intact. 

Removal involves completely removing asbestos from the property. It is often recommended if the asbestos is damaged or if planned renovations might disturb the materials. It provides a permanent solution and eliminates health risks associated with asbestos. Removal can also increase the property’s marketability. However, it is more expensive and disruptive than encapsulation. You also need to hire licensed professionals and follow strict safety protocols.

Cost Considerations

The cost of a professional asbestos inspection can range from $400 to $800, depending on the property’s size and the inspection’s complexity.

Encapsulation generally costs between $2 and $6 per square foot

The cost of asbestos removal can range from $20 to $150 per square foot, depending on the type and location of the asbestos materials. Total costs can vary widely based on the scope of the project and the specific areas involved.

Disclosure Requirements

When selling a house with asbestos, disclosing its presence is essential for legal and ethical reasons.

Mention any known asbestos in your property listing. This will set the right expectations from the start and avoid surprises later in the selling process.

Provide all relevant documents, such as the asbestos inspection report and any remediation work done. Potential buyers should be able to review this documentation.

The Texas Property Code Section 5.008 requires sellers to complete a Seller’s Disclosure Notice. This form includes a section where you can disclose the presence of asbestos.

Working With Real Estate Professionals

a real estate agent

Selling a property can be a smooth experience if you enlist the help of real estate professionals. Look for a local real estate agent knowledgeable about asbestos and who has experience dealing with these issues.

Experienced agents can provide valuable advice on disclosure requirements, pricing strategies, and negotiation tactics. They can also ensure compliance with legal regulations and streamline the selling process so you don’t run into any roadblocks.

Moreover, they often have a network of professionals, including asbestos inspectors, contractors, and legal advisors, who can assist throughout the selling process. 

Impact on Marketability and Pricing

Disclosing the presence of asbestos is mandatory and can affect the perceived value of your property.  Interested buyers may be wary of potential health risks and future remediation costs.

That said, proper remediation can improve the marketability of your home. Buyers are more likely to feel confident purchasing a house when asbestos concerns have been addressed.

Be prepared for potential buyers to use the presence of asbestos as a negotiation point. Offering documentation of professional inspection and remediation can help alleviate their concerns and strengthen your position.

A house with asbestos may need to be priced lower to attract buyers willing to undertake the remediation themselves.

Giving buyers credit to cover part or all of the remediation costs can make your property more attractive. This approach allows buyers to purchase the home at market value while addressing the asbestos issue after closing.

Conclusion

Selling a house with asbestos presents unique challenges, but with the right approach, you can close the deal successfully. 

Work with an experienced real estate agent to transparently address the asbestos concern and fulfill legal requirements for full disclosure. Remember to utilize helpful resources such as government websites to guide you.

Don’t let asbestos concerns stand in your way. Take proactive steps to address them and move forward with your home sale journey. 

When you’re ready to sell your home, contact A-List Properties for a competitive cash offer in the market. They will purchase your home as is, taking responsibility for asbestos testing and all the paperwork. 

Additional Resources

Sell My House Fast Texas | We Buy Houses Texas

Zach Shelley

Zach Shelley is a seasoned real estate investor with a diverse network spanning across the nation. As the founder of his own real estate venture, Zach is committed to offering innovative solutions to homeowners facing various real estate challenges.. Through his dedication and strategic approach, Zach continues to make a significant impact in the real estate industry, providing homeowners with alternative pathways to navigate their property transactions.

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