Radon (Rn) 101 – Understanding it within the Canadian Housing Context

 

Recently as part of Professional Development Course I took an interesting course and I would like to share with the readers of the Discovery Islander what I learned.

The course was put together by “Evict Radon” which is a volunteer-led Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to solving Canada’s large and allegedly worsening radon-gas exposure problem.

Why should you care about this?

Exposure to Radon may cause serious health issues including lung cancer.

The reason why it’s relevant to Real Estate is that Radon is a health concern and could be seen as a “latent defects” in a real estate transaction. Latent defects are hidden, unknown defects that are not generally discoverable by a prospective purchaser or a reasonable inspection.

In all of my years in the industry I have never seen a deal fall apart due to Radon reading. In fact, I have never even seen a Radon reading disclosed in the Property Disclosure Statement but I suspect that this trend of “healthy homes” will continue to push new ways of red tape. In my opinion, if it’s actually based on science and not on special interest groups and it will make us healthier than I think it’s worth looking into.

What is Radon?

“Radon is a tasteless, odourless and invisible radioactive gas that results from decaying uranium, and is a leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon filters up from the ground and into the air. It can enter buildings through openings where the buildings contact the ground. In the outdoors, radon is diluted to low levels. Inside buildings, however, radon can build up too harmful, concentrated levels. Breathing increased levels of radon increases a person’s chance of developing lung cancer. In fact, Radon is linked to 16% of lung cancer deaths. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.”

Who is at risk?
Everyone is at risk for radon inhalation, and any building that has contact with the ground has the potential to have high radon levels, including houses, apartments, schools, daycares, warehouses and commercial spaces.”

“Evict radon” is asking for participation with their research by testing your home and sending it back to them.

Participation in this research based study can help in better understanding what type of property produces a high or low radon environment and why. It will help in identifying who in society are the most at risk and also help in determining meaningful changes to policy and building codes in the future.

I am naturally sceptical when someone says “this is for your own health” because it usually means it will cost me something. However, I am open minded and passionate about learning so I purchased the test to see what it says about my home. The test cost me $53.99 plus shipping and taxes, total of $78.71.

The way to conduct the test is to place the little plastic device (the radon test) in the lowest level in your home that you spend about 4 or more hours a day. This could be your basement or the main floor. Do not place the radon test in well ventilated spaces such as kitchen, bathroom or areas with open windows or excessive airflow. Do not place them on the floor. The purpose of these tests is to give the research group a more accurate measurement of air quality. Typically, a location on the bedside table is a great place for the test. The test needs to stay in the same location for minimum of 90 days or longer.

If you would like to participate in this study go to the websites provided below. Both of the websites provide abundance of information about Radon, about the test and also mitigation process.


I think it’s a great resource for those of you that are curious or just health conscious. 

The website https://c-nrpp.ca/testing-for-radon/

 

The website to purchase the home test is here: https://evictradon.org/about/

 

Are you thinking of selling your home? Call me for a free home evaluation.

Roman Krzaczek REALTOR ®

Home number: 250-285-2141

Quadrarealty.ca

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 The first market statistics of the year were published late therefore I’m including them in this article instead of the last one. I can’t believe we are mid way through January already!

I’m assuming by now you have all received your BC Assessment and you’re excited at the fact that your home is worth more than 30% and in some cases even 50% more! Your property taxes will not go up by 50%, don’t worry. They will certainly go up though. 

Campbell River

According to the British Columbia Real Estate Association, the supply situation is especially critical in markets outside the Lower Mainland, with one of the worst being Vancouver Island. Even if sales were to return to long-run average levels, total listings would need to nearly double to achieve a balanced market, and the road to doubling those listings lies in building more homes.


“Expanding inventory is the key to affordability, and it requires a coordinated effort from all levels of government and adequate incentives for municipalities to take action,” says Mackay. “The public also has a role to play by being more open to gentle densification in some areas.”


Benchmark Price for a detached home in Campbell River in December reached: $689,000.

Benchmark Price for an apartment: $335,000.

Benchmark Price for a Townhouse: $505,300.

Average sale price in 2021, in Campbell River was $692,906 compared to $537,494 in 2020.


Quadra Island
Quadra Island saw a very busy December with 3 listings sold (pending), 2 sold, 1 cancelled and 1 expired.

Overall in 2021 Quadra Island had 42 listings in total that sold, 5 were cancelled, and 3 expired.

If you would like more details including “sold prices” go to my website and sign up and log in for free to members only area that will provide that information www.quadrarealty.ca 

Cortes Island

Cortes Island also had a relatively busy year with 14 listings sold, 2 cancelled, and 4 expired.

 If you would like more details including “sold prices” go to my website and sign up and log in for free to members only area that will provide that information www.quadrarealty.ca


Calgary

“2021 Record year for home sales”. Thanks to exceptionally high sales in December, 2021 was a record year for home sales. Calgary sales reached 27,686 units this year, nearly 72 per cent higher than last year and over 44 per cent higher than the 10-year average. “Concerns over inflation and rising lending rates likely created more urgency with buyers over the past few months. However, as is the case in many other cities, the supply has not kept pace with the demand causing strong price growth,” said CREB® Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie.


The benchmark price of detached homes in the city of Calgary hit $547,300; semi-detached: $432,400; row home: $300,100; apartments $252,000.


Vancouver

Metro Vancouver home sales reached an all-time high in 2021 as housing needs remained a top priority for residents in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We begin 2022 with just over 5,000 homes for sale across the region. This is the lowest level we’ve seen in more than 30 years,” Keith Stewart, REBGV economist said. “With demand at record levels, residents shouldn’t expect home price growth to relent until there’s a more adequate supply of housing available to purchase.”

Looking across Metro Vancouver, Maple Ridge saw the largest increase in benchmark prices at 34.7 per cent, followed by Pitt Meadows (29.8 per cent) and Whistler (27.8 per cent).


The benchmark price for a detached home is $1,910,200. This represents a 22 per cent increase from December 2020.

The benchmark price of an apartment home is $761,800. This represents a 12.8 per cent increase from December 2020.

The benchmark price of an attached home is $1,004,900. This represents a 22 per cent increase from December 2020.


Toronto

In December, GTA REALTORS® reported 6,031 sales – a strong result historically, but still down by more than 1,000 transactions (-15.7 per cent) compared to the record of 7,154 set in December 2020. Over the same period, new listings were down by 11.9 per cent to 5,174. The MLS® Home Price Index Composite benchmark was up by 31.1 per cent year-over-year in December. The average selling price was up by 24.2 per cent annually to $1,157,849.


The average price for a detached home in area (416) is $1,698,178.

The average price of a semi-detached home (416) is 1,342,429.

The average price of a townhouse (416) is $997,208.

The average price of a condo (416) is $730,792 as reported by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TREBB).


Prediction for 2022- more of the same. Looks like the biggest problem we currently have is a huge demand for housing but supply of new housing is just not meeting the demand. Being a buyer in this market is very hard, especially if you don't have a $1million dollars for a downpayment. 


In my opinion, the most important drivers of housing crisis are the artificial low interest rates and very high numbers of newcomers to Canada. According to Sean Fraser (Minister of Immigration), Canada welcomed 401,000 new immigrants in 2021.This is the most newcomers in a year in Canadian history since 1913. Federal government is planning to bring 411,000 immigrants in 2022. Just to be very clear- I'm not blaming immigrants for this crisis. This is just a bad policy by the feds. 



Are you thinking of selling your home? Call me for a free home evaluation.

Roman Krzaczek REALTOR ®

Home number: 250-285-2141

Quadrarealty.ca

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Are solar panels going to increase the value of my home?

Thank you My Friend for asking me this question the other day, because it inspired me to write about it in the Discovery Islander where I will share my findings with all the readers.

The usual answer I came up with right away is the usual in real estate: “it depends”. I have done some reading and even asked my fellow real estate agents if they had any experience with this.

The answer is not black and white, as expected.


I think it’s a wonderful technology and I am a big fan of trying new ideas. The three most obvious benefits of using this technology is reducing our carbon footprint, less reliance on the grid, and most importantly cheaper utility bills.


I can see an argument in favour of a solar panel system to supplement your power usage. Cost of energy is going up as we have all been noticing over the years. The way that BC Hydro calculates your power bill is a 2 step system, where you pay one rate up to certain level and then anything above that costs significantly more. In winter for example my hydro bill triples, and I think solar panels integrated into my home could potentially reduce that electric bill shock.


The main things to keep in mind:

Cost - Although cost of panels and all the components have come down in price lately, the cost will vary depending on performance, durability and warranty. Other factors such as installation, permits, inspections, and any modifications related to hook up to your existing grid may add up to the cost.


Maintenance- what are the maintenance costs over time. The efficiency of solar panels degrades over time so the older panels will be perceived as less valuable and less efficient, and also will need more maintenance costs.


Efficiency- How efficient is your system, is it really worth installing it if you live in an area like Quadra Island where sunshine is a rare commodity for six months out of the year? I wish we had “rain panels” on the west coast; Or winter grey sky panels!


Location- Do you have the south facing roof top for best exposure of the sun, does your property have enough sunshine? A lot of the houses in our area of Cortes Island, Campbell River and Quadra Island have a lot of trees around the houses. A lot of efficiency of solar panels depend on unobstructed view of the sun. The panels are supposed to be facing the sun at all times for maxium efficiency; not always possible.


Permits- What are the local guidelines and requirements? It’s always best to hire a local contractor that has experience and knows how to plan a successful installation.   


All things considered, is your property going to go up in value if you install a system?


Large installations on valuable homes tend to add more money to the value of the home than smaller and less valuable homes. Some studies indicate that some properties can benefit up to $6000 for every 1kW installed and working systems. Other sources suggest 2-4% increase in property value, but these numbers are based on hypothetical scenarios.


Most of the time however solar panels do not add significant value to most properties. Even off-grid properties may not increase the value because you’re trading the benefits for all the maintenance costs and unreliable service. For example, when temperatures drop down in the winter the panels don’t produce as much electricity.


The way I look at it is, if you can justify paying $30,000 for a system that will save you $100 in monthly electricity bill then go ahead, but don’t count on the value of the house to go up significantly. I think it’s a great idea of “free” electricity but just how free is it. The panels will provide most amount of electricity when your monthly bills are typically the lowest. In the winter when the panels are not quite as efficient unfortunately due to weather, is when you need to have a good source of supplemental power source.


From a numbers point of view if someone had $30,000 to increase the value of a property I would suggest redoing the kitchen first, then bathrooms, windows, insulation, but if all these options have already been covered then consider adding an additional dwelling on your property. Is there a way to build a rental suite?

The return on investment on the $30,000 invested in a rental suite that can be rented for $800 vs $100 saving on your electric bill is a no brainer in my opinion.

  

In conclusion, based on all factors the installation of solar panels is a fantastic way of reducing your cost of power and it’s an extra added feature for a property. Theoretically the more features a property includes the more attractive it could be to certain potential buyers. I remember when hot tubs were a great feature for buyers until that trend went away and now selling a house with a hot tub can be a bit tricky these days. As more information about solar panels become available more people will be able to make more educated decisions.


I personally, would definitely consider buying a brand new house with a renewable energy solution built in from the beginning because I can safely assume that all other systems in the house like insulation and windows have a high efficiency rating. As a buyer of an older home with only certain components that meet the efficiency level, I personally would not feel too thrilled.



The Canadian government is offering home owner grants that aim at helping home owners in saving energy costs. This could be a good first step in doing some research.


https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/canada-greener-homes-grant/23441


As you read through that government website you will realize that the promised "up to $5000" grant given to home owners doesn't mean what we think. There are a lot of limitations and conditions that one has to meet in order to take advantage of any of these programs. 



 


Are you thinking of selling your home? Call me for a free home evaluation.

Roman Krzaczek REALTOR ®

Home number: 250-285-2141

Quadrarealty.ca

http://www.islandphonebooks.ca/


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