Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Findings will hike awareness in housing market: official

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BRANDON -- It was previously ignored by homebuyers, but lead levels will become a "watchword" in the housing market, according to the Brandon Real Estate Board president.

Sandy Donald said lead levels in tap water aren't something the average homebuyer is aware of, but the results of a recent provincial study will change that.

Preliminarily results of a provincial study show an excess of lead in some parts of the city as a result of lead used as a primary material for water service lines installed prior to 1950. One of the 11 houses tested so far showed a lead concentration nearly five times the Canadian standard.

"When a Realtor is showing a house, he has probably got 103 things that he can be asked, and (lead levels) is probably way down on the list," Donald said. "It will now be in the forefront of their thought process."

Routine water tests don't generally focus on lead, but Donald said the recent findings by the government study could spark an increase in conditions in sales agreements to include such tests.

"Tests aren't looking for lead, it's usually for E. coli, chloroform and stuff like that, not for the lead level, that might be something that's added to the (conditions)," he said.

In the short term, homebuyers might shy away from looking at houses in the downtown core entirely, Donald said.

"If somebody says to you the water is contaminated, well, that gives you pause before you even consider going into that house," he said. "It's going to be one of the watchwords for Realtors and everybody out there."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 9, 2013 A13

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