How To Sell A House With A Failed Septic System

Selling a House with a Failed Septic System

Suppose you put your house on the market and have received several great offers. There’s one problem: you just found out your septic system failed its Title 5 inspection. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how overwhelming it can be. Luckily, there are still ways to sell your home, even with a failed septic system. Here’s what you need to know:

What Is a Septic System?

Septic systems are used when a property doesn’t have access to a public sewer system. Your home’s septic system functions as an onsite sewage treatment facility. It is responsible for treating the wastewater produced from your everyday household plumbing activities so you can avoid contaminating the water supply.

When you think of a septic system, the first thing you may think of is septic tanks. However, septic tanks are only one piece of the puzzle. A septic system typically consists of a septic tank, a distribution box, and a drain field– which are all connected by a network of pipes. 

Septic Tank

A septic tank is an underground sewage collection tank. When you flush your toilet, drain your sink, or take a shower, the wastewater flows into your septic tank.

Distribution Box

Wastewater moves from the septic tank into the distribution box, which ensures the sewage is evenly distributed into the drain field.

Drain Field

Also called a “leach field,” a drain field is located underground and is the final destination for your home’s wastewater. Without a drain field, your septic tank would overflow.

What Is a Title 5 Inspection?

In most states, homes with septic systems versus public sewer access must have a Title 5 inspection before being sold. A Title 5 inspection is meant to confirm that your septic system is running smoothly and being properly maintained. A Title 5 inspector will look at your septic system’s structure to ensure there are no design flaws that could cause trouble down the road.

How Do I Know if My Septic System Has Failed?

Most septic system issues are the result of poor design and inconsistent maintenance. Warning signs of a failing septic system include:

  • Sewage backing up into household drains
  • Flooding in your basement or around your septic system
  • A strong smell around your septic tank
  • Gurgling sounds coming from your drains
  • High levels of bacteria in your well water

At the first sign of any of the above, it’s crucial to contact a septic tank service company as soon as possible to avoid any further deterioration to the system.

Can I Sell My House With a Failed Septic System?

Your ability to sell your home with a broken septic system will depend on several factors. For example, selling a property with a failed septic system is illegal in some states. Be sure to speak with your real estate agent to find out the laws in your state before deciding to put your home on the market.

If you find out your septic system failed inspection in the middle of the closing process, the sale may be delayed. If you’re unable to repair the septic system before closing day, the buyer’s lender may request a certain amount of money for the repairs to be held in escrow. The amount required is usually 1.5x the average cost to replace the septic system. For example, if the average septic system replacement cost in your area is $20k, you will have to escrow $30k.

However, not all lenders provide this option. Some lenders won’t allow buyers to close until after a broken septic system is repaired or replaced. In some cases, buyers may be forced to walk away from a deal if their lender isn’t flexible.

What Is the Cost of Replacing a Septic System?

The cost for septic system repair depends on a few factors, such as the size of your home. The number of bedrooms in your home can significantly impact repair costs since the septic tank needs to have the capacity for a higher number of occupants.

The cost can vary greatly depending on the type of repairs needed. For example, if you just need to replace your septic tank, the average replacement cost is between $3,000 and $6,000 but can run higher based on the materials you choose.

On the other hand, if you need to replace an entire septic system, including the tank, distribution box, and drain field, you can expect to pay between $10,000 and $25,000.

The good news is that a new septic system can last several decades, depending on the materials used. For example, a steel septic tank will last 15-20 years, while a tank made of concrete can last up to 40 years.

Septic Repair Help for Massachusetts Homeowners

Luckily, there are programs available for homeowners in Massachusetts that need help affording their septic system repairs, such as:

Tax Credit for Septic Repairs

If your septic system failed inspection, you could receive a tax credit from the state of up to $1,500 a year for four years, as long as the septic repairs are for your primary residence. To apply for the tax credit, fill out this form.

Septic Loan Program

Certain communities in Massachusetts offer low-cost loans to homeowners with broken septic systems. To check your eligibility or apply, check out the webpage here.

Other states may offer similar programs to help alleviate the financial burden of septic repairs. Check out your state’s website for details on financial assistance programs for homeowners.

Final Thoughts

Though finding out your septic system needs repairs can be stressful, we hope this guide has reassured you that options are available.

Another possibility to consider if you can’t afford to replace your septic system or don’t want to deal with the burdensome repair process is selling your home as-is. At Pavel Buys Houses, we pay cash for houses in any condition, so you don’t have to worry about costly repairs. Contact us via our online form or give us a call at 781-309-7085 to discuss how we can help.

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