Real Estate Industry FAQs

Below are common questions we receive from professionals, including landlords, agents and potential buyers, within the real estate industry.

Q: Will a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) tell me if there is contamination on my site?

No, it will not. A Phase I ESA is designed to tell you if your site has the potential for contamination. During a Phase I ESA, we review the current and historical conditions of a property and its environs to determine if further investigation is warranted. Depending on the findings of a Phase I ESA, a Phase II ESA may be initiated. During this stage, you will find out if contamination is, in fact, on your site.

Q: Will sampling during a Phase I ESA tell us if there is contamination?

No. There is no sampling during a Phase I ESA. In this phase, we collect and review various documents, such as federal and state databases and fire maps. The report compiled at the end of a Phase I ESA estimates the potential for contamination. If further investigation is warranted, a Phase II ESA may be initiated and a sampling plan for soil and groundwater may be proposed.

Q: Will the State (regulating agency) require us to do a Phase I ESA?

No. A Phase I ESA is lender-driven, not regulatory driven. This phase is designed to protect the buyer or lending institution from environmental liability by identifying the person who is responsible for any corrective action associated with a release.

Q: I had a Phase I ESA completed several years ago. Is that good enough?

No. The primary function of a Phase I ESA is to determine if the potential exists for contamination from site activities or from nearby activities. Because new developments and other changes occur around you, it is important to conduct a new environmental site assessment at the time of your real estate transfer. A gas station might have been build next door since the last time you had a Phase I ESA conducted, and the presence of a gas station certainly increases the potential for a release or other harmful contamination.

More Information

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