One of many decisions a home buyer in the Salisbury MD real estate market will eventually have to make is do they want their new home to be serviced by a central sewer or a private septic system? For those who opt for the latter based on where the home they are interested in is located, the next question is “should I have the septic system inspected?”
Depending on the buyer’s loan type, this decision may be made for them by their lender as a condition of getting the loan. In my professional opinion, the answer should always be an emphatic “YES!” anyway and you’ll see why in the glaring example below.
Salisbury MD Home Buyers Get Their “Feet Wet”
Ten years ago, when I was still learning the ropes as a Buyer’s Agent here in Salisbury Maryland, I took on new clients I’ll call Chris and Linda. They were an attractive young couple with a lot on the ball and determined to buy their first home. At the time, the Salisbury MD real estate market was really heating up, making protecting a home buyer’s interests fully and still getting them in the right home a challenge. Many buyers were foregoing property inspections since it was a highly competitive seller’s market.
During the initial consultation, I explained the role of a Buyer’s Agent, the home buying process, the various loan products for their financing and the importance of inspections, including septic inspections. Chris, being cost conscious, was understandably looking to reduce his outlay for their home purchase if possible and told me he’d think about having a septic inspection done and make a decision when the time came to make an offer.
After a few weeks of looking, we found an ideal home for them. Chris was still hesitant to shell out hundreds dollars to have somebody look at was “essentially a hole in the ground.” After all, the existing system was only six years old. I explained that most septic inspections didn’t reveal many problems but rolling the dice could cost him big money down the road. Chris finally relented and signed off on a septic inspection addendum as part of their offer.
A Crappy Surprise for First Time Buyers in Salisbury MD
Once under contract, inspection day arrived and the inspector turned on the faucets in the house. After that, he popped the lid on the septic tank and what followed resembled the beginning of the cycle of Old Faithful, only this was more than just hot water and steam and also a different color. All parties quickly backed up to keep their shoes clean as the inspector scrambled to turn the water off. It was a quite a scene!
The seller, father of six kids, was present and also seemed surprised. “Have you had any problems with backups in your plumbing?” he was asked. “Nope, none at all” was the response. After further excavation of the distribution box and drainfield, the inspector deemed the system to be failed.
The Septic Inspection Addendum- Better Protection than a HAZMAT Suit
A month later, Chris and Linda closed on their first home. They were also the proud owners of a new septic system that would likely last longer than their mortgage. Had Chris and Linda not opted for an inspection addendum, it’s likely the old system would have limped along for short time, but an expensive surprise would be rearing its ugly head before long.
The addendum the parties signed put the cost of repairs or replacement on the seller. If the seller wouldn’t or couldn’t replace the system, their home would essentially be unsalable, unless fortunate enough to find a cash buyer to whom the properties defect was disclosed. Chris and Linda could’ve then voided the contract, had their deposit returned and moved on to the next home.
To sum up, having an inspection done on the septic system of the Salisbury MD area home you are looking to buy may truly be a case of “an ounce of prevention being better than a pound of cure.”
- Cost to Buyer for Septic Inspection- $300
- Cost to Seller to Replace the Septic System- $15,000
- Value of Buyer Client’s Satisfaction- PRICELESS!
Have a septic system horror story? Please share below!