Selling with UFFI, Busy street


Dear David,

We bought our home 25 years ago and were aware that it had UFFI. Do you think this will affect our ability to sell? – WORRIED

DEAR WORRIED: Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) is a type of expanding insulation that was popularized in the 1970’s energy crisis, then banned in the 80’s due to concerns about potential formaldehyde off-gassing. A wave of court cases gave it a suspicious reputation, though UFFI has never been proven to present a long-term danger.

UFFI does release some formaldehyde in the mixing and curing process. This off-gassing is thought to last for as little as a day or two. Despite its limited impact on air quality, UFFI still carries a stigma in the housing market. It’s no longer mandatory to declare UFFI in an MLS listing, yet it’s still a warranty item in every purchase agreement.

To be clear, formaldehyde off-gassing is a common phenomenon. Formaldehyde is in the particle board used in the construction of homes and cheap furniture.  It’s in paints and finishes, adhesives, new carpets and upholstery, cardboard and wallpaper, and smoke from tobacco and fireplaces. It’s in vehicle exhaust and is responsible for giving new cars their distinctive smell.

Formaldehyde is so widespread that homes containing UFFI tend to register the same air quality readings as those without. The US overturned their ban of the substance when it was proven in court that the off-gassing in a home wasn’t coming from the UFFI, but rather from the carpets and paneling. I recently had the opportunity to test a home for UFFI due to concerns from a buyer. The tester commented that he hasn’t seen a home with a significant formaldehyde reading in years.

PRO TIP: Even though many people no longer consider UFFI to be an issue, it’s still important to disclose. I always find it easier to get in front of a potential problem, so recommend that you have your home tested ahead of time and provide the results to prospective buyers.

Dear David,

If we buy a house on a busy street, will we ever be able to sell it? – HIGH TRAFFIC

DEAR TRAFFIC: I get this question all the time. Most people include a quiet street on their home buying wish list, yet the majority of busy streets are lined with houses that are lived in and always have been.

While it’s important to balance the positives and negatives, a home on a busy street can be an opportunity for the buyer who wants to stretch their budget. A comparable home that was unaffordable in a quieter location may become attainable if located on a busy corridor.

PRO TIP: Buy smart. If you choose a home that represents a good value, it will represent the same good value to another owner when it comes time to sell. Just be sure to keep your expectations reasonable. Don’t lose sight of why you got a discount on the house in the first place. #AskDavid #Advice