Is a Septic Inspection Really Necessary?

Real Estate Agent with PalmerHouse Properties Florida - 941-882-0322 | Serving Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte Counties

Wondering if a Septic Inspection is Really Necessary?

How Septic Systems Work...

Before we get started, check out the image below to get a general idea on how a septic system works.

Is a Septic Inspection Necessary | Septic Inspection Sarasota Real Estate

The Inspection Period Begins...

You're excited about getting that special home under contract! You're now in the Inspection Period and are doing your due diligence to make sure the property is what you expected. This particular property has a septic system installed instead of public sewer. You've just paid the home inspector and you're wondering whether or not having a septic inspection is necessary. After all, the toilets seem to flush okay and the water seems to be draining down the drains without any issues.

Septic Inspections are Not Required, but Strongly Recommended

Ultimately, getting that septic system inspection is your call. It's not something that is typically required by the lender unless the FHA/VA appraiser has flagged it in their appraisal report as a potential issue.

There are a few factors that you'll want to consider. The age of the house, whether or not it's been vacant for a long period, has the tank been serviced regularly. Even if all of those items check out, I would very likely still recommend that you have that septic system inspected because of a situation my buyers experienced early on in my real estate career.

Read What Happened to My Buyers...

Is a Septic Inspection NecessaryMy buyers found what appeared to be the ideal home for them. It was a bank-owned property and my buyers were able to win the bid. They immediately lined up their home inspector and proceeded with the inspection of the home. The report came back with numerous issues, but none of them were deal breakers. Because of the age of the house, it was built in the 1960s, the home inspector recommended the buyers have a septic system inspection.

Thank God my buyers took the advice of the home inspector and had the septic system inspected. As it turned out, the septic tank and drainfield (leachfield) were located in the backyard. The backyard also had several large Grandfather Oak Trees and the root system had taken over the backyard as well as invading the drainfield. The septic tank itself was starting to crumble and the whole septic system failed the inspection.

Buyers still liked and wanted the house, but now they were faced with the expense of replacing the septic system or seeing if the bank would take care of the problem.

How Would You Like to Have a Mortgage on a Home that was Uninhabitable?

Prior to asking the bank to replace the system, we also found out that the county had certain guidelines as to the required distance between a well and a septic system. I believe they had to be at least 75 feet apart (I'm not exactly sure if it was 75 feet, but it was close). The problem was that this particular lot wasn't big enough to have 75 feet separating the well pump from the septic system.

Yes, I think Septic Inspections are Necessary

If my buyers would have skipped the septic inspection and proceeded with the purchase of this property, they would have bought a house that was uninhabitable and had a nice mortgage on it! So, if you were to ask me, I think septic system inspections are worth every penny!


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Julie Larson, Realtor®
Julie Anne Larson, LLC, Realtor® serving Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte counties.

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Julie Larson Realtor® Sarasota FL 941-882-0322
PalmerHouse Properties Florida - 941-882-0322 | Serving Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte Counties - Sarasota, FL
When you're thinking of

Thanks, Corinne Guest, Managing Broker! Yes, that's a plus for the buyers if it's required in your area and the seller pays for it!

Jan 22, 2017 09:24 AM #2
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Absolutely... 100% of the time!  Very Important subject.  Thanks for the post, Julie.

Jan 22, 2017 09:24 AM #3
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

definitely.. I live in a community that is well and septic and I recommend same to all buyers and sellers as well!

Jan 22, 2017 09:28 AM #4
Melody Russell
eXp Realty of California Inc. - Scotts Valley, CA
Ranked as 1 of the top selling agents in SC County

Good blog Julie. I agree septic inspections are important. I have had similar experiences with discovering failing systems and in Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley, CA, and in Santa Cruz County often when a septic is replaced an engineered system is required which costs as much as $40,000, involves electricity usage with fans running in the system around the clock and such systems have a yearly inspection fee. All good to know BEFORE you close escrow. :-o

Jan 22, 2017 09:29 AM #5
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I think so. It buys one a peace of mind....  It avoids costly lawsuit....

Jan 22, 2017 09:43 AM #6
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Julie

Great reading and a terrific graphic! But to answet your question - absolutely! They are rare in my area but in a sale last year we requested the sellers have the tank pumped but also have it inspected and provide a certification. It failed. So my clients got a new $13K setpic system and leachfield!


Jan 22, 2017 09:43 AM #7
Gloria Valvasori, Accredited Senior Agent
REAL Experience | REAL Commitment | REAL Results!

Most definitely!  I always put a condition in the offer if my Buyer is making an offer on a rural property where a septic is present..  my Buyer wants it inspected to make sure it is not damaged.  Also we want to know when it was last cleaned.. Something we can't see visually needs to be fully inspected to avoid major repairs down the road.

Jan 22, 2017 09:49 AM #8
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

No buyer should close on a home purchase that has a septic system without having it tested thoroughly. It can be a very costly repair if not attended to properly.

Jan 22, 2017 10:10 AM #9
Raymond E. Camp
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ontario, NY
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester

Good afternoon Julie,

Here unless it is a cash deal it is mandatory and in some areas the county health inspectoy must be present. Most are pumping and inspections are paid by the seller.

Make yourself an astonishing day.

Jan 22, 2017 10:22 AM #10
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

That is a great graphic to share with any client interested in a home on a septic system. We urge our clients to inspect any major system in the house - septic should be no different, and can save some serious money if anything does turn out to be wrong!

Jan 22, 2017 03:12 PM #11
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

Such an important lesson, I always tell my buys to inspect everything before making an offer with bank owned if the bank is not allowing contingencies Julie Larson Realtor® Sarasota . 

Feb 09, 2017 11:54 AM #12
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

This is a good overview of why septic inspections are necessary. Thanks for your post!

Feb 09, 2017 12:14 PM #13
Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

Awespme blog!

We always do septic inspections, but most listing agents are surprised because they don't do them.


Feb 09, 2017 03:24 PM #14
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

Great post!  Absolutely, always necessary.  We have bought 3 homes in the last 10 years, all on septic, always an inspection and we recommend (nay, strongly urge) all buyers to have them done.  Around here they aren't required either but it's actually often negotiated that the seller will have it done and pay for it during the inspection time period and provide buyer with a report.  I'm glad your buyers found this out before purchasing it!  -Kasey

Feb 09, 2017 08:47 PM #15
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Julie Larson Realtor® Sarasota FL 941-882-0322

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