Lead Paint can be Hazardous if not Handled Properly
Lead Paint Health Risks and Laws
Off the top, this article will not attempt to address the potential health risk of lead. If you are looking for more information about lead paint, you can look here: Lead Paint Info
and MA state regulations can be found here:Some State Regulations
When Home Buyers Should Test for Lead Paint
I think a difficult question for many buyers is whether to do a lead paint inspection or not on an older home. There are several barriers. One is simply cost, as a quality inspection can easily double the normal cost of inspections. The second is that it is generally assumed that if a property is a certain age, the test will be positive, and since we already know that, why test?!
Historically, the vast majority of homeowners and purchasers have chosen not to test, even when children under six live are to live in the property, or do live in the property. But I think with recent changes to MA law, the case is becoming clearer for testing. In general, I think all sellers should at least consider testing, especially if there home was built before 1950, as I think many buyers would just feel better knowing where it is. It may even make sense to do the test as many homes are lead free if they were built between 1950 and 1978 , and a compliance letter could help you secure more buyers. Certainly all buyers who are having children under 7 live in the property should test (and after you purchase you are legally required to test), both for safety and for risk reduction in future expenses, as the state requires that you bring the home in compliance.
Lead Paint is a Complex Problem, Information is Power
Today, I think the goal is more complex than just determining IF the property has lead. It's understanding where the lead is, and how much lead you have both inside and outside the property. A test is the first step in abatement and/or a compliance letter, and I think compliance letters will have more weight in improving resale of these properties going forward. Certainly, any investment property with a compliance letter would be worth more to me as an investor than a similar property with a significant amount of lead paint.
If your goal is to have a lead free home, a home with a significant lead problem may not be for you, as renovating a home solely to remove lead is usually not an equity builder of itself. (That's not to say that removing 60 year old windows and upgrading to a modern energy efficient lead free window won't build equity, it will! This is both a lead reducer and an infrastructure upgrade).
Lead Paint Laws are Getting Tougher, not Easier
Bottom line, lead testing is probably more important than ever, and simply must be done before any renovation work can be done on the home (and most older homes need some renovations), so, although expensive, it can be a good way to gauge the future expense that you'll be incurring going forward. And that is a key aspect of any successful home purchase.
Also, if you want to check if the state has a record of a lead paint test, you can check here:
*All information is posted in good faith and is assumed to be reliable, but may rely on third party information sources.