Here is the scenario: Your property has just gone under contract and the buyer is financing with a VA loan. Shortly thereafter, hopefully, the appraiser visits your property to complete the interior/exterior viewing. That’s right, it’s a viewing, not an inspection. The home inspector is a different person, but we will save that topic for another article. OK, let’s get back on track. So, the appraiser takes some measurements, notes, many photos, switches some lights on/off, runs a faucet or two, flushes the toilet, asks you some questions about recent improvements, says thank you, and speeds off to the next appointment. Now a few days, or weeks, later, you get a call from your realtor and you are informed that your property does not meet VA minimum property requirements due to defective paint. You are told that since your home was built prior to 1978, the defective paint must be remediated for the buyer’s loan to proceed. What does that mean? Well first, let us address what defective paint is and why it is such a big issue.
Defective paint is any previously painted surface that is now flaking, peeling, scaling, bubbling, or chipping. Prior to 1978 lead was added to paint. You have heard of lead poisoning, right? Lead poisoning can cause many health issues including mental problems, seizures, comas, and even death. Children were most at risk, since they are more likely to put things in their mouth, however, the lead could become airborne (dust) or contaminate water sources.
OK, now you know lead is bad, but maybe you’re thinking, “Hey! I repainted my home only a few years ago. The paint used was manufactured without lead so this should not be an issue.” It’s a good try, but since there is still a possibility that lead was used initially in your home, nobody is going to take that risk. The defective paint will have to be remediated. So, go get a paint brush and slap some paint over the defective areas, right? Wait, not so fast! It must be done correctly, or the appraiser may still reject the repairs.
There are several ways to fix the defective paint issue. First, you can have a lead-based paint test completed, which is not cost effective, so it is rarely done in 1-4 unit residential real estate transactions. In fact, in over 20 years working in this industry, I have not seen one case where this was done in lieu of remediating the defective paint. The next option is to hire a professional painter who specializes in lead-based paint remediation. Last option is to remediate the defective paint yourself. In either remediation option, the defective paint must be properly removed from the surface and all debris completely cleaned up with no signs of it left on the ground. The surface then must be repainted.
If the defective paint issue is wide spread, it is recommended to have a professional company that specializes in lead-based paint removal to complete the remediation project. If done incorrectly, the lead could contaminate the air or water in the vicinity and expose others to this poisonous substance. If you are working with a real estate agent, they should have the knowledge and expertise to advise on your plan of action.