Can I Sell My House with a Failed Septic System?

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Can You Sell A House With a Failed Septic System?

If you are in the process of selling your home or perhaps purchasing a home with a septic system then a septic inspection is something that should be done prior to closing on the house. But what happens if your septic system fails inspection? That is exactly what we are going to cover in this article.

So the Question is, can I sell my house with a failed septic system? You can sell a home with a failed septic system unless local law explicitly prohibits it. However, selling a house with a failed septic system will have a negative impact on several factors, including: 

  • Pool of Buyers
  • Ultimate Sale Price 
  • The time it takes to sell

Remember- If you decide to sell a home with a failed septic tank, you MUST disclose it to the buyers.

Let’s take a deeper look at how a failed septic system could impact the sale of your house.

First – What Does A Failed Septic System Mean?

So you may have received a septic system inspection that says your system is failing or has failed, but what does a failed system mean? A failed system means that the absorption area is no longer absorbing water from your septic tank. This is a big problem and usually means a new septic system will need to be installed.

To understand this better let’s quickly explain how your septic system is designed.  A septic system is designed with two major components. The first is a septic tank. The septic tank acts as a receiving and holding chamber for the household waste that leaves your home.  Bacteria in the septic tank break down the waste, processing it so it can be released into the drainage area, the second component of the septic system.

If your drainage area no longer absorbs wastewater from your septic tank it means that you could get back up into your home, or sewage in your yard. It means that the wastewater is no-longer being processed the way the system was designed and can cause health and environmental risks to people and wildlife if they are exposed to raw sewage.

What are the signs of a Failing Septic System?

There are some common signs of a failed septic system that could be present. You should look out for these signs when you are purchasing a home with a septic system.

  • Wet or water above the Drain Field
  • Water above the Septic Tank
  • Slow flushing toilets or sinks

Who is Responsible for Paying for a Failed Septic System – The Buyer or Seller?

Ultimately the question about failed septic systems usually comes down to who is responsible for getting it repaired or replaced, the buyers or sellers?

Well, there is no hard and fast rules here, unless your local municipality requires the sellers to pay for it. But like we mentioned above, selling a home with a failed septic will definitely impact the negotiations.

Buyers are reluctant to take on homes that require major repairs of systems unless they are getting the property at a deep discount that accounts for those issues.

The Seller and The Buyer will ultimately need to consider the failed septic system in your negotiations and come to an agreement that both parties can agree on to conclude the sale.

Just remember as the seller, a septic is not a cosmetic or a nice to have feature of your home that the buyers are asking for. Homes are expected to having working plumbing and sewer systems for waste disposal.  If your home has a failed septic system it is unlikely a buyer will look past that when purchasing your home.

How Can a Failed Septic System Affect the Sale of My Home?

Now that you understand a little more about how septic systems work, let’s take a look at how your home sale might be impacted if you are trying to market and sell a home with a failed septic system.

Like we said earlier septic systems are considered another major system of the home you are purchasing or selling, and with that, it is expected that these systems function properly.

Failed Septic System Affect on Pool of Potential Buyers for Your Home

Some buyers will not purchase a home with a septic system simply because they aren’t used to it or have only come from previous homes with public sewer.  So this means your buyer pool is a bit smaller than a home with a public sewer, but this isn’t substantial. There are plenty of Homes with Septic Systems and thus plenty of buyers that are willing to purchase the right home with a septic system.

With that being said, a failed septic system will substantially decrease the number of prospective buyers that are willing to purchase your home.  This is no different than trying to sell a home with any other major system that has failed or needs to be replaced. Think failed roof or HAVC systems.

So you can choose to try and sell your home with a failed septic system, just understand it will take longer to find that potential buyer because many won’t be willing to purchase the home without a functioning septic system.

Failed Septic System Impact on Your Home’s Sale Price

The next thing that will be impacted by trying to sell a home with a failed sewer system is your asking and sales price. Usually, sellers are trying to get the highest price possible from their homes.

When you reduce the pool of buyers for anything, the demand goes down, and when the demand goes down so does the price.  You will have to sell your home at a discount off of market value if your septic system has failed.

Is it possible to find a buyer that is willing to pay full price for a home that doesn’t have a basic system like waste disposal functioning, it’s possible but not likely.

If you are willing to sell your home on a deep discount then this might not be an issue for you.

Failed Septic System affect on Time on Market for Your Home

Again, any time you reduce the number of potential buyers you risk having your home sit on the market longer than you might have hoped.  You have to know this ahead of time if you are trying to sell a home with a failed septic system.

Are you willing to wait it out indefinitely until your home finds a buyer?  If you are then you can wait until you find a buyer that is willing to pay full or close to full price.  But if you are in a circumstance that requires a more immediate sale, a failed septic system can greatly affect how long it takes you to sell your home.

So if you have already purchased a home and need to sell you to facilitate the closing of your new home, or perhaps a relocation scenario where your company isn’t helping you move or sell your home, then time may be more of the essence and you should really reconsider if listing your home with a failed septic tank is really the best option for you.

How much does it cost to replace a failed septic system?

If you are wondering just how much of a discount you may need to give on your house for a failed septic system then you might be wondering how much they cost to replace.

The answer will really depend on a few things.

  • Where You Live
  • Local Requirements
  • What type of system needs to be put in
  • What the land and soil is like

A new system including septic tank, plumbing, and drainage field will probably run between 15,000 and 25,0000 on average.  It could be less for areas with a lower cost of living, and more in areas that are more expensive or require engineering.

When we purchased our home in 2016 the septic system failed inspection.  To have the entire septic system replaced with civil engineering cost $26,500 for a 4 bedroom home in NJ.  So take that for what it’s worth.

What if I Don’t Disclose my Home has a Failed Septic System?

This is another reminder that you must always include your failed septic system in your seller’s disclosure when selling your home.  If you fail to do so you can be putting the health of people, wildlife, and the local water supply at risk.

If you fail to disclose a failed septic system that you were aware of when selling a home, you can be sued and held liable for damages.

Tips For Buying a Home with a Failed Septic System?

If you are buying a home with a septic system here are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t get hit with costly replacement costs.

  • Always ask the Sellers for a Disclosure Statement
  • Get Separate Septic System Inspection- It is worth the cost- It saved us over 20K dollars. Get a local septic Inspector here
  • If the septic system fails, make sure you get local code, requirements, and estimates before excepting a seller concession for the repair.
  • Make sure you negotiate who is responsible for the repairs and how they are getting done and paid for in your contract.

I hope this article has made it a little less scary if you are buying or selling a home with a failed septic system.

If you need to get your septic system serviced find a local professional in our state by state directory. Simply click your state below.

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