SWFL Realtors: Top Tips for Buyers When Purchasing a Septic System Listing

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SWFL Realtors: Top Tips for Buyers When Purchasing a Septic System Listing

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Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee

Purchasing a new home can be overwhelming for a Southwest Florida home buyer, especially in today’s market. As a realtor you educate them throughout the process and make sure that they know exactly what they’re getting into. You guide them through inspections, setting realistic expectations, market conditions, and everything in between. As a realtor you need to be a subject matter expert in many niches. While a home inspector will catch most of the important stuff, basic knowledge of what to look for is important for you as a realtor.

How much do you, as a realtor, know about septic systems? While it’s important to have a septic contractor in Southwest Florida that you can trust, you should also know warning signs and tips for buyers when considering a listing with a septic system.

Look out for warning signs.

There are a few major issues that you can be on the lookout for that can indicate issues with the septic system:

Drainfield Issues or Signs Septic System Needs a Pump-out

● Wastewater back up into the yard

● Sewage odor from partially treated water on the ground

● Holes in the shoulders of the drain field

● Soggy area around the drain field

● Mud or pooling water around the system

● Listen for gurgling pipes or bubbles in the toilets

● Slow drains in the home

Understand the history of the septic system

It’s the buyers’ right to know the history of the home they’re purchasing. There are a lot of nightmarish scenarios where septic systems weren’t disclosed, were in failure when sold, or had other major issues that resulted in costly litigation and repairs for the new homeowner. These are extreme cases, but it’s important to understand what can happen so that a home buyer can prevent it. This story breaks down a seller who allegedly lied on the disclosure saying the home had a working septic system, but it was just a pipe in the woods. Had the buyer completed the inspection in advance, they could have demanded that the seller repair or install a septic system or held funds so that those things could be completed by the buyer.

By requiring a septic maintenance record, the prospective buyer can see that a septic system was maintained properly, any repairs that were completed, and the age of the system. A system that isn’t too old and that has been well-maintained through the life of the system will be much less likely to malfunction than one that has been neglected, regardless of age.

Factor the system’s age and pump-out history into your offer.

If a system has been well maintained but is  20 to 30 years old, you probably want to give yourself a little wiggle room in your budget to have it replaced. The cost of a new septic system can reach tens of thousands of dollars, so having this money set aside in case something happens is critical. Odds are very good that the listing agent has prepared a seller for this inevitability if the system is aged or malfunctioning, so it’s not likely that a homeowner would have issues with an offer that has been adjusted to accommodate the replacement of the system.

Be sure to get a point-of-sale septic inspection.

While it’s great to have a history of septic pump-outs, repairs, and the age of the system from the homeowner there are some dishonest people out there that could produce false documentation. You always want to have a point-of-sale septic inspection completed on a listing that your buyer is considering purchasing.

Be sure to go over in detail what to expect when a buyer receives a point of sale septic inspection. The basic rundown of a point-of-sale septic inspection goes like this:

● Locate, map, and uncover the tank

● Complete a stress test

● Pump out the tank and

● Drain field inspection

A point-of-sale inspection will give the buyer peace of mind and because it includes a pump-out, this may be something the owners will cover as well.

As you and your buyer know, purchasing a home is a huge decision and careful diligence is needed to ensure that there is minimal liability after a sale. Many home improvements take place once a property is purchased, and the more you can reduce those costs for the buyer after the sale, the happier your buyer will be in the long term, resulting in more referrals and good reviews for you.

Be sure to give your buyers post-sale tips for their septic system, you can find a lot of resources for septic systems in our blog.





● Tamkin, Samuel J and Ilyce Glink. March 20, 2022, Real Estate Matters: Buyer shocked at inspection by lack of septic but sale is “as is”, Herald Tribune. July 20, 2022. <https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/business/real-estate/2022/03/20/real-estate-matters-inspection-finds-pipe-woods-not-septic-tank/7025104001/>