So where is the oil tank?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 10491201242

These days we are more aware of environmental issues.  In some areas the practice of putting the home heating oil tank underground was very common.  Today, if your heating oil tank is underground and you are thinking of selling your home this could be one of your selling expenses.Oil Tank  New York State does provide a homeowner's guide for underground heating oil tanks

When taking a listing this is a subject I cover with the seller. We discuss the various ways this issue could be addressed and sometimes will get a few estimates.  My suggestion is that the seller address the issue before listing the property.

Some homeowners will resist because, after all, they have not had a problem with the tank.  What sellers fail to do is to think like a buyer.  Why is the tank in the ground such an issue with buyers? It is because buyers are now more aware of the various environmental issues and do not want to inherit a potentially costly problem.

In this competitive buyer's market would it make sense to lose a sale because of a buried oil tank? Well, this is still happening. In the last month I had two buyers who ruled out homes they liked because of the buried oil tank.  I tried explaining that this is a fixable issue but they would not hear it.  The wise course would be to avoid this issue by correcting the problem prior to listing.

Yes, sellers, it does not make sense to create a stumbling block to completing the sale in this climate.




 **** Informational only; deemed reliable but is not guaranteed


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Kat DeLong
Wheeler Steffen Sotheby's Int. Realty - Lake Arrowhead, CA
Realtor DRE#01235311, Lake Arrowhead Real Estate (

Jennifer: Excellent reminder. We have some of these TANKS in some areas around Lake Arrowhead...

May 02, 2009 01:52 AM #7
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jennifer, no one wants to inherit anyone else's potential problems, and underground oil tanks can definitely be one of those potential problems.

May 02, 2009 04:23 AM #8
Jean Joh
8z Real Estate - Millbrae, CA
SF Peninsula RE Specialist

Wow, underground oil tanks!  I'm glad we haven't had that issue over here in least, I'm pretty sure we don't.  So important for every agent to be aware of possible issues in listings due to historical trends in different areas!

May 02, 2009 09:18 AM #9
1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

We don't have to deal with the tank problem but we have problems of our own and I agree whatever the problem is, deal with before a sale!  Good advice!

May 02, 2009 03:25 PM #12
Diane Rice
Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL - Lansing, IL

Hi Jennifer.  So far we have not had a house with the underground tank, just underground wells.  This is useful information for the seller with you getting first hand knowledge of how difficult it is to close a deal! 

May 03, 2009 11:12 AM #13
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Fred - It can be a big issue so sellers should be proactive.

Ann - Yes the cleanup is very costly , removing, testing and replacing soil.

Paddy Listing agents really need to let the sellers know they are losing buyers because of this issue.

Steve - I am sure you have other stuff to deal with, real estate is never boring.

May 03, 2009 04:16 PM #14
Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"

Jennifer We have very few oil tanks and those ar above ground and usually in very old homes, but caution needs to be taken if the home no longer uses oil,  Karen

May 04, 2009 09:29 AM #15
Anthony Stokes-Pereira
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Nanuet, NY

Hi Jennifer;

How are you? My home insurance is more expensive because my oil thank is underground.

May 04, 2009 03:50 PM #16
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Jennifer - A lot of time sellers think that just because they bought the hosue that way and it wasn't a concern to them that it should be an issue for anybody else. I just closed on one of my own listings and the sellers started out thinking this was an non-issue and almost looked at me like I had two-heads. Of course, it became an issue with not only the buyers but also the buyer;s attonrey.  In NY, one cannot assume that just because the buyer might not find issue with a buried oil tank, that the attorney won't.  

May 05, 2009 04:20 AM #17
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Jennifer--Getting these underground tanks removed and/or properly filled is essential. In MN at the very least the fact that they are there must be properly and sufficiently disclosed. Removal requires the presence of the local fire marshal. This is a huge issue. Sellers in this market have to realize that most buyers will move on to the next home rather than deal with a potential problem. Best if the seller takes care of prior to listing the home.

May 07, 2009 02:38 AM #18
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!


Great post. I had one of these next to a cemetery lately. What a nightmare that was. I had some great information from your post.

Thank you.

May 08, 2009 05:12 PM #19
Jenny Kotulak
RE/MAX Real Estate Centre Inc., Brokerage - Oakville, ON
Broker - Oakville Ontario Real Estate

Hi Jennifer,

Quite a slippery subject isn't it???  There have been a few in my community and that's why it is very important to have home inspections.  But not every home inspector would even notice, so it's up to us REALTORS to do our due diligence and look for these types of "deal breakers".

Thanks for bringing this underground subject to "light".

May 10, 2009 06:25 AM #20
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Oil tanks are few and far between out here unless they are owned by the oil companies. I did find one oil-burning furnace here, built in 1937, but the oil tank was above ground.

May 11, 2009 06:17 AM #21
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

I haven't run across the issue on the residential side.  St. Louis was known more for burning coal than oil.  However, on the commercial side, dealing with underground tanks is fairly common.  Today, we had three underground gasoline storage tanks removed from a property.  It wasn't a big deal and the cleanup was minimal.  But, we will see what the tests bring back to see if any further remediation is required.  Your advice is sound.  You want to take away all obstacles - and for most homeowners this would be a huge issue.  Nice post...


May 11, 2009 09:50 AM #22
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Bill - That is the case here too, yet I see sellers still listing their homes without addressing the issue.

Brian - You are so right.

Kat - This is a subject matter buyers agents need to keep in mind.

George - The cleanup can be costly.

Jean - That is so true, and that is why knowing your marketplace is so important.

Judi - That is the key, if you know something could be a potential problem be proactive.

Diane - It can be a real deal killer.

May 12, 2009 01:27 AM #23
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Karen - that is true, sometimes you will come across a pipe sticking out of the ground or from the concrete floor in the basement, it might have been abandoned but was in done correctly?

Anthony - I did not think of that, but I can undestand why.

Tom - Glad the post was helpful.

Carol - Good good point,  the attorney in most cases advice there clients against proceeding with the purchase unless the issued is remediated.

Teri - It sounds like a big deal, fire Marshall and all.  This is certainly not the time to but a stumbling block in front of a buyer.

Jenny - Sometimes this can be hard to discover especially if you don't see the pipes. 

Russel - Sometimes an above ground tank was installed later, the old tank is still underground and the pipe sawed off, so the inspector and Realtor have to play detective.

Ryan - In most cases the remediation will be minnmal but when it goes wrong it could be a nightmare.  The contamination could be a big deal, here in many parts of NY people have wells for their water supply.

May 12, 2009 01:49 AM #24
Leander McClain
North East, MD
Cecil & Harford County Realtor

You are absolutely right on this one. I suggest to sellers with underground oil tanks that we have the tank tested.  That way we can provide the results to any potential buyers.  Howver, there are buyers in my area who do not want to deal with oil heat at all.  In those cases, there is nothing you can do

Have a great day

Make This YOUR Best Year Ever


May 13, 2009 01:00 AM #25
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Leander - Yes this is a subject that can be a turn off to buyers, therefore sellers should be proactive.

May 13, 2009 12:02 PM #26
Dena Stevens
Rocky Mountain Realty - Canon City, CO
Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004

George likes to point out the regional differences around the country. I learned something tonight!

May 13, 2009 02:24 PM #27
George & Arlene Paukert
Road to Wealth, Inc. - West Palm Beach, FL

This is one thing selling in Vegas, I never had to deal with and I'm really glad I didn't. I could see where it really could make or break a deal if an oil tank became an issue.

Jun 05, 2009 11:10 PM #29
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