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Uncovering What Lurks Below

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RISMEDIA, April 27, 2007-Representatives from Environmental Data Resources recently met with Consumer Reports to discuss EDR's work in the real estate industry. Consumer Reports posted a blog about the meeting on its Web site, praising the company's service offering. Here, the blog post from the site:

We met with the folks from Environmental Data Resources the other day. The Milford, Conn.-based company is a provider of environmental information for commercial properties.

They came to our offices to talk about their recent foray into the world of residential real estate. I won't bore you with too many details, but you can buy a detailed environmental report on a property you're buying or selling, which the company generates from its databases of municipal, county, state, and federal records. A report ($150 for a residential property) includes information on the presence of red flags such as EPA Superfund sites (like the Bowers Landfill in Pickaway County, Ohio, shown here; the location was remediated into wetlands), hazardous-waste sites, and leaking underground oil tanks on or near the property. EDR's Web site provides further information.

Regarding oil tanks, EDR research released today indicates there are more than 400,000 leaking underground oil tanks nationwide and that more than 1,000,000 reports of properties with hazardous contamination spills (oil, gasoline, industrial chemicals) have been filed across the U.S., according to government records.

"These numbers highlight the need for consumers to better understand what is present on and around their property or the property they are considering buying," said Robert Barber, CEO of EDR, in a press release. "The presence of environmental contaminants in the ground beneath a home and the neighborhood around it-and the potential impact they could have on a family's health-is something homeowners and home buyers should investigate for their own safety."

Obviously EDR and similar companies like Property I.D. don't release this information only for the public good-they want you to buy their services, after all. (Note that, according to EDR, 93 percent of the reports it generates come out "clean.")

But given the modest cost and the tedious work required to uncover the information EDR provides-including Freedom of Information Requests to get the same government databases the company sifts through, for instance-it might be worth it to let the pros handle this type of work for you. That way, you can focus on finding the right town and the best loan for your situation.-Steven H. Saltzman

To read the blog online or to read other Consumer Report blogs, visit http://blogs.consumerreports.org/home/.

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