Can I Sell a House with Lead-Based Paint in Massachusetts?

If your home was built before 1978, there’s a good chance that there’s some lead-based paint in the home. Lead-based paint was a popular choice for interior and exterior paints in the early 20th century, with its popularity peaking in 1922 and then declining until it started being banned in the 1950s.

While old homes are beautiful, with more charm and character than any modern build can muster, they do pose some issues due to historical practices, such as using lead-based paint.

Why is lead-based paint a problem?

Lead is a very soft metal we now understand is highly toxic. Lead poisoning can affect every organ in the body and it can become deposited in organs and bones, meaning the effects of lead poisoning aren’t reversible. The symptoms simply get worse, often leading to brain damage, and can lead to death if enough lead is ingested.

These health risks led the government to federally mandate the disclosure of lead-based paint, which means home sellers of homes with lead-based paint must disclose that fact to potential buyers. Lead-based paint doesn’t pose the same risk as other lead products that were once common (lead waterpipes and lead pencils, for example) on a practical level because it has usually been painted over and so is not as easy to ingest, but it still requires disclosure due to the extreme risk it poses to young children who are more likely to put things they find in their mouths.

Can I sell a home with lead-based paint?

Yes, but you must disclose the presence of lead-based paint to potential buyers if you know it is present, or say you don’t know if it’s present or not if that is the case.

Your disclosure of the presence of lead-based paint in the home must come with a document such as:

  • A risk assessment report
  • A lead inspection report
  • A letter of interim control

You must also sign a Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification, which we’ll talk about more below.

How do I sell a home with lead-based paint in Massachusetts?

If you have proof of lead-based paint in the home, you need to give a copy of that disclosure form to your buyer. You must also give a buyer a Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification, which ensures the buyer is aware of the risks. Everyone involved in the sale (buyer, seller, and real estate agents) must sign this document.

You also need to give your buyer a “Protect Your Family from Lead in the Home” pamphlet, which you can find here, on the EPA website.

These documents must be provided before signing any of the following documents:

  • Purchase and sale agreements
  • A lease with the option to purchase
  • A memorandum of agreement (used in foreclosure sales)

As we touched on above, you must provide a risk assessment report or similar.

Do I have to test my old home for lead-based paint?

No – if your home has never been tested for lead-based paint you don’t need to do so to sell your home. If you’ve done extensive renovations on the home and know the home has no lead-based paint, a letter of compliance showing your house as lead-free can help you sell the home.

Note that if your home has never been tested for the presence of lead-based paint you are required to give your buyer 10 days to get a test if they want one.

Is selling a home with lead-based paint hard?

It may be a little more difficult, but most potential buyers looking at historical properties will be aware of lead-based paint and will understand the risks.

Remember that your target buyer is not the same buyer as someone looking at homes that have been built in the last 5-10 years – they’re interested in an old home for the history and the stories it could tell. The presence of lead-based paint alone likely won’t seriously impact how difficult you find it to sell your home.

That said, if your old home also has other issues that need to be addressed, you may find it more difficult to sell your old home. Old homes often have energy efficiency issues, potential structural problems, and other issues that are more likely to make it difficult for you to tell your home.

It’s also worth noting that selling a home with lead-based paint will likely rule out families with young children; a buyer with children under the age of 6 is required by law to have the home deleaded or tested (brought into Interim Control) within 90 days of buying the property.

Will having my home deleaded increase its value?

Yes, but mostly due to the other improvements you will have made in the process of deleading your home. For example, deleading usually includes replacing windows and doors that contain lead, which dramatically improves the energy efficiency of the home, which will drive up the home’s value.

Avoid the Hassle of Selling a Home with Lead-Based Paint

Selling a home with lead-based paint won’t dramatically decrease the price, but older homes often have other issues that do. Draughty windows, structural issues, unlevel floors, out-of-date wiring, and other issues are much more likely to turn off a potential buyer.

If you suspect your home is going to be much more difficult to sell than the average home due to its age, it may be time to consider selling your home for cash. We buy homes in as-is condition for cash in Massachusetts, meaning we see a lot of homes with lead-based paint and similar issues.

The process of selling your home to us is simple: all you need to do is send us a few details about your property and we’ll send you our best cash offer. You’re under no obligation to accept our offer, but if you do, we can quickly continue the process, closing in as little as 2-3 weeks, if that suits you.

To find out more about the process or to get your no-obligation cash offer, click here.

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