HOLLAND, Mass. (WWLP) – Crumbling foundations caused by pyrrhotite are impacting buyers and sellers in this hot real estate market. The 22News I-Team visited a home in Holland that was recently sold after it tested positive for pyrrhotite.
The home in Holland was built by its owner back in the early 1990s. Last year, the owner decided it was time to sell. Shannon Boyce was the attorney broker for the listing.
“The first day when we had the open house, it was amazing,” Boyce said. “It was such a busy day. So many people came out, and they loved the property.”
They got an offer, but during an inspection, they found out that the foundation contained pyrrhotite. It’s a mineral that causes concrete to crack when it’s exposed to oxygen and water.
“It was devastating,” Boyce explained. “He went from top value offers to now, we did a very drastic drop in price. When you have a certain number in your head, and then reality strikes and that number is now down, it hurts.”
They got a verbal quote of $250,000 to fix the foundation. To do that, the house would get lifted up off the current foundation, the bad concrete would be dug out, a new foundation would be filled in with good concrete, then the house would be dropped back down.
With that $250,000 quote in mind, Boyce relisted the home a few weeks ago.
“What we did was we just dramatically dropped the price and we were just very honest with the situation – this foundation is affected by pyrrhotite,” Boyce said.
A state commission has determined that homes built from 1983 to 2015 within a 50-mile radius of JJ Mottes, quarry in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, could contain pyrrhotite. That’s about 95,000 homes. But, those numbers were just based on that one quarry in Connecticut.
The barn on the Holland home’s property had concrete poured from a company in Connecticut. The house had concrete poured from a Massachusetts company. Both were poured the same day from two different companies, and both have tested positive for pyrrhotite. This home is one of two in the area that the I-Team has been able to confirm had concrete poured by a company in Massachusetts.
“It’s not good,” said State Senator Anne Gobi.
She has been pushing for legislation to help homeowners who are impacted by this issue. Part of the bill would help people pay to get a foundation repaired, and it would test quarries in Massachusetts for pyrrhotite.
“It’s extremely problematic. We know that when we look at individual communities where homes are testing positive – in some, it may be one home. In a development that was built all at the same time, there could be 50, 60 houses or more,” Gobi said. “It’s extremely concerning.”
Buyers and Sellers Beware
For anyone looking to buy a home in central and western Massachusetts, Boyce told the I-Team you absolutely should not skip an inspection.
“This is a repair that, if you purchase at market value as it is today, then you add a couple hundred thousand to then have to fix it, I don’t know how anyone can prepare for that kind of financial loss,” Boyce said.
She has the same advice for sellers, too.
“Pay that little extra, have them come out before you list your property and do the inspection,” Boyce said. “What they’ll do is a visual inspection first and they’ll pinpoint it. Then after, you can do a core sample. The core sample is your definite answer.”
Boyce was able to sell the Holland home in six days by being honest with the buyer about the pyrrhotite, and the bill being considered by Massachusetts lawmakers.
“She (the buyer) is looking forward to hopefully Massachusetts passes legislation so that it will release some of the burden for her to repair it,” Boyce said.
The bill has a reporting date of March 31st. The 22News I-Team will keep you updated on the bill’s status.
The 22News I-Team also visited a home in East Longmeadow in 2021. This family’s plan to sell their home has also been impacted by crumbling concrete.
Resources for homeowners:
In Connecticut where crumbling foundations have also been a huge problem, there is a fund to help homeowners pay for a new foundation. So far, the state has given out millions of dollars to help repair homes in the northeast part of the state. It’s paid for through a $12 surcharge on everyone’s homeowner’s insurance.