How to Sell a House With a Failed Septic System

“Can I sell my house with a failed septic system?” You may be asking this question if you’ve noticed the tell-tale signs of septic problems: standing water near the system, sewage smells near the tank, slow-flushing toilets. Your septic system is essential for treating wastewater and maintaining a clean water supply, but if you can’t afford to get it fixed, you may still have options for selling your home. 

Can I Sell My House With a Failed Septic System 

The simple answer is that, yes, you can sell your home with a failed septic system—unless you’re forbidden by local law. 

Most often, though, the roadblock isn’t legal but rather financial. Home buyers rely on financing to close on a home, but many lenders won’t approve a loan for a house with a failed septic system. In these situations, the seller must fix the septic system before selling. The only way around this is to sell the home to someone who doesn’t require financing, such as a real estate investor. 

So if you do decide to sell a house with a failed septic system, know that you’re looking at a smaller pool of buyers, a lower sale price, and the potential of a much longer listing time. 

How to Sell Your Home With a Failed Septic System 

You must disclose your faulty septic system and any other home damage to potential buyers, even if it doesn’t come up in their home inspection. It’s the law. Many buyers won’t look twice at a house with a faulty septic system, but you do have a few options to make the home more desirable.  

Have the System Repaired Before Selling 

A new septic system will run you between $3,098 and $9,435 on average. The total cost will vary depending on the size of the tank, the complexity of the installation, and the average cost of plumbing in your area. The tank itself may run you between $600 and $3,000 while the land excavation can run a minimum of $1,200. The installation itself is the most expensive aspect of the job, running between $3,000 and $9,000 on average. 

If you do get the system repaired, you’ll instantly increase the value and desirability of your home. However, it’s a costly endeavor that can cause significant disruption to your livelihood—and you may not have the money up front. The first step should always be to acquire an estimate. Then you’ll know exactly what you’re working with. 

To get the most accurate estimate, it’s important that you choose an inspector with no conflicts of interest. If you find an inspector who also provides repair services or who has a pre-existing relationship with any of the parties involved in the sale, avoid them and look for someone completely objective. 

Repair the System Yourself Before Selling 

If you’re dealing with complete septic failure and require a new system, you won’t be able to make the upgrades yourself unless you have a background in septic maintenance. However, if you’re just dealing with a minor problem like a loose tank cover or surface runoff polluting the drainfield, you may be able to remedy the issue yourself. In some cases, you can hire a local contractor to make minor to moderate repairs, potentially saving you a fortune in the long run. 

Offer a Discount as Part of the Home Sale Negotiation 

The simplest way to entice buyers is to reduce the asking price by enough money to cover the cost of a new septic system. You can also put the money into an escrow holdback, which enables you to guarantee and complete the repairs before the buyer moves in. In many cases, the buyer’s lender will require you to contribute one-and-a-half times the estimated cost of the repair. 

Sell Your Home As-Is 

If you can’t afford the repairs yourself and you don’t want the headache of trying to sell a home in disrepair, you can contact a real estate investor that buys homes for cash. Many real estate investors will gladly buy your home as-is and then make the necessary repairs as part of their investment. 

At Get Fair Home Offers, we let you sell your house fast as-is for cash and throughout Southern California. We’ll make you a competitive offer based on the market value of your home minus the repair costs. There are no escrow holdings, and you’re not responsible for completing the repairs yourself. 

What to Do When Your Septic System Test Fails 

As part of the general home inspection, your septic system will be tested. The inspector will perform a flow test and dye test, look for damage to the tank, and inspect for runoff among other things. You may think that your septic system is in perfect working order only to have an inspector tell you that it’s damaged. 

If you disagree with the results of the test and believe that your septic system is fine, you can opt for a second test from a neutral inspector with no conflicts of interest. In most cases, though, it’s in your best interest to just yield to the expertise of the inspector and acknowledge any repairs—either up front or in escrow. Even if a second inspector rules in your favor, you may be held liable if the original stated problem gets worse down the line. 

Tips for Selling a Home With a Failed Septic System 

If you’re looking to sell your home with a failed septic system, the following tips may make the process easier while helping you to avoid any legal complications. 

  • Start with a formal home inspection and estimate so that you can at least notify the buyer of the costs and know what you’re dealing with. You must disclose the faulty system to any potential buyers. 
  • Research your local codes and ordinances to ensure that there are no legal restrictions on selling a home with a failed septic system. 
  • Make the repairs before listing your home if you can afford them. You’ll walk away with more money at the end of the day because you won’t have to make additional concessions to entice hesitant buyers. 
  • If you can’t afford the repairs up front, negotiate the process with your buyer. Offer to put the money into an escrow holdback and finance the repairs before they move in, thereby ensuring minimal disruption to their moving timeline. 

If your home isn’t attracting buyers, or if you’re losing buyers due to hesitant lenders, consider working with a cash-for-homes company that buys homes as-is. At Get Fair Home Offers, we’ll give you an all-cash payout in as little as 7 to 10 days, and you’ll never have to worry about that frustrating septic system ever again. 

Call us today at (626) 817-3351 to get started.

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