Seller fell THROUGH the ground at home inspection... You will NOT believe this!

Real Estate Agent

Ever heard the phrase, "Timing is Everything"?  


Well let me tell you a true story that happened to me last week...

Background on the story:  I am working with a young married couple (first time buyers)and we have an accepted offer on a nice starter home.  The home is small, but it is in great condition -- basically all updated inside and well-maintained outside.  3 days after the offer is accepted, we have the home inspection...

Here is the scene:  I arrive, along with the buyers and the home inspector.  The sellers (also a young married couple) are home to let us into the property, but will be heading out in a little while when the listing agent gets there. 

We have just completed the interior inspection, and the seller is going to show the inspector where the water meter is located, as it outside the home near the street. The listing agent has just arrived, so now EVERYONE involved in the transaction is present.

The seller steps out the front door of the home onto the front walk, proceeds to take one step off of the front walk onto the grass and is suddenly about 2 feet shorter than he was a second ago... 















The homeowner's right leg had disappeared from view beneath the surface of the earth, nearly all the way up to his hip! 

WHAT? NO!   





The home inspector and I help the poor guy up from the ground and make sure he was ok.  He has this absolutely stunned look on his face, like he literally has no idea what has just happened.  Luckily he is unscathed, save for a bit of dirt on his pants and shoe.  So we look down into the miniature cavern he has just discovered and see a hollow area under the grass. 

This is the hole his leg made:


Prodding a bit more uncovered THIS:

Inside view of "the hole":


SO.... It appears to be the old grey water septic.  The house is now on public sewers, so the system has been unused for the past few decades or so, and obviously the lid has decayed away allowing soil to erode into the space.

The couple of days leading up to this had seen a lot of snow thaw, and 2 full days of rain -- apparently creating enough drainage to wash the soil through this hole and leave only the grass on the surface.

Now, remember, these homeowners have lived in this house for several years, and probably stepped on this VERY SPOT countless hundreds of times without any issue... so TIMING IS EVERYTHING... this happened during the home inspection with everyone there to see it!

The conclusion:

1. The seller was obviously very embarrassed, but it was clearly not his fault.  He was actually quite concerned, as they have a young daughter who could have easily fallen into this sinkhole.

2. The buyers were concerned, but not enough to walk away from the deal, as long as the issue was properly taken care of.

3. The home inspector put the issue in his report, and specified his recommendation for repair.

4. The Town Dept. of Public Works came out and dug up the area to inspect it for safety, and then filled it in (as specified in the new addendum to the contract).

5. The transaction is progressing without a hitch (knock on wood.)

The Moral of the Story:

Everyone could have made a bigger deal of this than was necessary, but no one did. Everyone remained cool and calm, realizing the issued could be repaired.   I explained to my buyers that this is the reason we have home inspections, to reveal problems that may not be obvious to the naked eye. Haha.

Comments (12)

Monika McGillicuddy
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty - Hampstead, NH
Southern NH & the Seacoast Area
one day my hubby Jay stepped outside to go to his car and did the same leg disappeared in a mole hole!  He was lucky he did not get hurt! Your seller must of been shocked!
Apr 04, 2007 08:00 AM
Sandra Cummings
William Raveis Real Estate - Guilford, CT
Real Estate Agent, Guilford Connecticut

It's wonderful that no one got hurt and everyone stayed calm and cool heads prevailed. Sometimes all it takes to kill a deal is one person over reacting.  Glad to hear sale is progressing smoothly.


Apr 04, 2007 08:07 AM
R. B. "Bob" Mitchell - Loan Officer Raleigh/Durham
Bank of England (NMLS#418481) - Raleigh, NC
Bob Mitchell (NMLS#1046286)

A few years back I was working my butt off trying to get my company off the ground.  All of my hard work was FINALLY paying off.  I had three houses sceduled to close on the same day. YEAH!!!!

I awoke that morning to the sounds of thunderboomers and walked out into one hell of a rain storm.  As a matter of fact it was one of the worst rain storms in the past 50 years according to the local news guy.  I swim my way to the office when the phone starts to ring.  ALL THREE HOMES HAD FLOODED BASEMENTS!

We got one of them closed that day and the other two within a few days, but talk about a bummer of a day!  Thank goodness I had understanding agents on the other sides of the transactions!

R.B. "Bob" Mitchell

ValueList Real Estate Services, Inc.

Apr 04, 2007 08:08 AM
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time
Wow Anthony glad they didn't break a leg. That is quite the story!!
Apr 04, 2007 08:12 AM
Anthony DiMattia
Rochester, NY
CBR, E-Pro

I'm really glad it wasn't the buyer that fell in... That could have made for quite a different situation!

Apr 04, 2007 08:19 AM
Ken Cook
Content, coding, marketing, host. - Marietta, GA
Content Marketer/Creator
That happened to a friend of mine who is a pastor only it was not an old septic tank. It was an in use septic tank and he went in to his waist ... or is that waste. Either way, it was his neice's home and they had to completely replace the tank because the covers had deteriorated. The replacement company told him that several people die every year from falling into old septic tanks and underground storage tanks like that. I guess you'd say they went where everyone else went first. Yuck.
Apr 04, 2007 08:21 AM
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Wow! That is a story for the books!!

We had several sink holes in our yard where the old septic was and had to have it all regraded professionally as we were concerned that the same thing would happen. Since most of the area we are in is sandy soil, we still check that part of the yard every spring to be certain.

Awesome end to the story that all parties were reasonable--The timing truly could not have been more perfect!

Apr 04, 2007 11:47 AM
Jennifer Steck
Rocky Mountain Homescapes, Keller Williams, Denver Colorado - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate
Anthony, It is amazing what can happen during a real estate transaction. I have a somewhat similar story with my buyers earlier this year. I arrived at the house in January to meet the inspector and buyers. The seller was standing outside with his sons. I thought he was just leaving. When I walked up, he told me the the house was on fire. We all stood looking back at the house and I didn't see smoke. Before too long the fire engines pulled up and they walked inside with axes. By the time my buyers arrived, the fire fighters had left. The fire was minor and one of the buyers was more upset that the cute firefighters were already gone. The deal closed. We all had a good laugh including the inspector.
Apr 04, 2007 03:35 PM
Tina Howell
RE/MAX DFW Associates VI - Little Elm, TX
Little Elm & Frisco Area Real Estate
Ouch -- glad to hear the transaction is moving along anyway.  A couple months back my leg fell through the floor of a bathroom while I was touring a 1920's home.  It was a "fixer upper" so I should have been more careful, but there were not any signs posted about the bathroom flooring having a hole in it!!!  My knee still isn't the same, but luckily my clients were family so my embarrassment was minimal.
Apr 07, 2007 05:58 AM
Everytime we hear a realtor story we think is the best yet - another one is told! like yours.  Unbelievable about the timing!! And what a great ending!
Apr 09, 2007 11:04 AM
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate
Awesome that everyone didn't overreact! That's the best part of this story.
Apr 12, 2007 03:15 PM
Suzanne Willems
Willems Realtors - Saint John, IN
That is too funny. I have arrived at a house covered in yellow crime scene tape and cops everywhere. Of course, i had a showing with buyers their in 10 minutes. Did not go well. 
Apr 15, 2007 11:24 AM