The Importance of Environmental Site Assessment Before Buying a Property
There are so many factors to consider when you are investing in real estate. Environmental assessment is one of the most important factors to consider while purchasing a piece of land. It’s tied to the price, regulations and safety concerns. Environmental experts can assess the existing or potential environmental issues using geological maps, soil and water testing, local history of land usage and by simple observation.
Fisher Engineering and Environmental provides engineered solutions to our clients to easily navigate through the stringent and complex environmental regulations. Our services include environmental site assessment, site remediation, and indoor air quality control, among other services. In this blog, you will learn why it is important to conduct an environmental site assessment before investing in a property:
• To Avoid Federal Liabilities
Phase 1 ESA (Environmental Site Assessment) was originally introduced under federal regulations to protect purchasers from CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund) liabilities. If, after purchasing the land, it is revealed that there is contamination, having appropriately carried out a Phase 1 ESA before the purchase will act as proof of due diligence, which can protect the owner from any federal liabilities.
• To Avoid Risking Your Business
The business being run on the property at the time of purchase might not indicate any reason for suspicion of contamination, but the previous usage of the land might have caused contamination. Regulatory authorities will close down any business on the property until the contamination is taken care of. The property can neither be used nor be leased out, resulting in loss of income, which may even put your ownership at risk, if you are planning to purchase the property on loan. A Phase 1 ESA will reveal the history of the property and any potential contamination issues, which can then be reassessed with a Phase 2 ESA.
• To Be Eligible for a Property Loan
There are a lot of formalities that one has to go through to receive approval for any loan. Given that, lending institutions will never loan money to purchase a property that doesn’t have a Phase 1 ESA certificate. This is due to the fact that environmental contamination devalues properties and runs the risk of federal liabilities that could cause a business to shut down. Loss of income would affect the ability of the borrower to repay the loan. Foreclosing on such a property is not favourable as it is tough to sell a property that is contaminated and remediation costs are significant. Also, the closure letter that has to be provided by the regulatory authorities takes a lot of time to be processed.
• To Avoid Losses While Selling
As a buyer, you have the right to walk away from a deal that you are not sure about, likewise, when you're selling a property, buyers will try to make sure that the property doesn't have any liability issues. If you purchase land without carrying out an environmental site assessment beforehand and it turns out that it is indeed contaminated, you will have to bear the cost for remediation before you can sell the property. Even when the contamination level doesn't invite the attention of CERCLA, remediation can be a very costly affair, depending on the level of contamination and the area of the property.
Environmental site assessment can be considered as a part of a well-rounded background verification. It will help you avoid any liabilities in the future, if and when you decide to sell your property. You can count on our team at Fisher Engineering Limited to help you make the right decision in real estate investment. Contact us today to book an environmental site assessment!