Buying Advice

Lead Paint in Your Home

First, let me acknowledge that my Ka’u article last week was not my best effort but, like about half the people I have spoken to lately, I’m recovering from COVID…that’s my excuse anyway. Hopefully, you got the message which was a good one, for sure. As mentioned, we are thrilled to help the farmers in Ka‘u own the farms they have labored for years to develop. Onward!

As we continue the recent real estate roller coaster, I keep hearing that sales and pricing are softening. Perhaps this is true in some places, but I’m not seeing changes in a big way on Hawai`i Island. The increased interest rates may affect those trying to buy on a shoestring, but that’s not the normal buyer profile in Hawai`i. First-time homebuyers are (thus far) still able to jump in. Due to inventory shortage, the product buyers are focusing on is often an older home that has sometimes been renovated to the point that it basically looks new.

Lead Disclosures

Even though renovated, federal law requires that lead paint disclosures for homes (or condos) originally built prior to 1978 must be made. A 20-page brochure entitled “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home” is a great resource for buyers and sellers alike. Even with two paragraphs devoted to the subject in our purchase contract, there’s still a specific declaration that must be made and acknowledged by both buyer, seller and their agents.

It’s such a big issue that the form is supposed to be completed prior to the “meeting of the minds” between buyer and seller. It’s awkward because the form is not really designed to be included as part of the purchase contract unless the seller has completed their portion first. This is not usually the case so there’s often a bit of back and forth to get it completed.

The Problem…

So, what’s the issue? Lead paint has been shown to cause damage to maturing brains and organs of young children, especially under the age of six. It can also cause abnormal fetal development. Exposure comes not only from paint but from dust, soil, lead dust on toys and even lead gas that drips in the soil. Exposure can affect the nervous system, speech, coordination, hearing and in adults, concentration, fertility and memory to name a few.

Disturbing paint during renovations requires contractors to comply with additional training for special handling techniques. It is not recommended that lead paint be removed by amateurs. During the purchase process, sellers must provide any information they have regarding lead paint. Buyers may elect to have a 10-day period to conduct a risk assessment.

Looking for Lead

Most home inspectors do not conduct lead paint assessments in their inspections, but test kits are available at most hardware stores. If found, there is no requirement for testing or removal by sellers. Interestingly, the policy also applies to landlords. It does not apply to short term vacation rentals (less than 100 days), elderly housing or housing built once lead paint was banned in 1977.

So, if you’re in the market for a home and vintage is your vibe, don’t be alarmed to find lead paint disclosures as part of your buying and selling process!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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