Real estate investing often involves a speedy transaction process. The due diligence and inspections that are part of the investor's process are done in a hurry. There is a component of property valuation that is often overlooked, but could be costly later. This is especially true in the growing environmental and earth protection movement.There are tens of thousands of hazardous waste or sites classified as hazardous by the EPA. It could be the buried fuel tanks of a long abandoned and built-over gas station. Or, there could be an old fill site that was used for disposal of hazardous substances. What are some of those?
- Fuel, oil, gas that leaked/leaks from tanks
- Nitrate compounds
- Hydrogen cyanide
- Electronics and battery components
- Even nuclear waste
There are many components and chemicals used in products in our daily lives that are hazardous to our health and the earth and water resources around us. In decades past, before the environment became a focus, these materials were disposed of haphazardly, with little thought as to their threat. They're still there, usually buried where we can't see them or their toxicity.
Too many real estate professionals are unconcerned about this when they're listing properties, and homeowners are definitely not looking for reasons to devalue their homes. There are however ways to quickly check to see if there are any hazardous sites nearby that may be reason for concern before making a long term rental property investment. It may not be a problem until resale, but if the problem is then disclosed, you could take a beating on your sale price.
EPA Super Fund Sites
This site has the listed Superfund cleanup sites listed. You can see if they've been fully cleaned up or deleted. Superfund sites are usually industrial and waste sites from mining or other company operations.
U.S. National Library of Medicine ToxMap
This site has many more and smaller known hazardous waste sites that contain materials hazardous to human health.
Both of these are free government site searches, and spending 10 minutes to check what's near an investment you're about to make is well worth the time.
It is probably going to be a rare incident that you will run from a deal due to the results of this search, it could be the very few that can hurt you the most. The really good news is that if you work a local area exclusively, you can do this search once and save the maps of sites. You'll just check them out when necessary.
Due diligence in rental property investment is mostly related to the market economy, demographics, property value and rents being charged. However, when a few minutes can possibly steer you away from a future hit on the resale component of your investment, why not?