Never heard this before: septic inspection of an REO is a waste of time????

5 Replies

I just got an offer accepted on a bank-owned property that has a well and septic, and I have inspections on both of those as my only 2 contingencies.

I just got off the phone w/a company that told me they can come and do the pump-out and inspection, but said they wanted to let me know that the inspection won't tell me anything useful on a property that's been vacant for 6 months or longer (this one's been vacant at least a year, I believe).

They told me everything settles, the leach field dries out on its own, and the only way to tell whether everything works properly is when you have the day-in, day-out usage.

This is the first time I've heard that. Is it accurate? I'm still going to do an inspection, whether w/them or someone else, but their comments made me think. And a little hesitant.

Sounds reasonable to me. The inspection may allow you to spot major issues (like a hole in a tank), but functional testing can likely only occur when folks are living in the house. Perhaps the inspection can reveal your biggest contingencies and associated costs and you can budget for them in your counteroffer.


I've lived all of my life in areas with septic systems for waste, and wells or springs for water. People who have always lived in cities sometimes get freaked out about septic systems, but I can tell you that they don't go bad that often, unless the area is a low area, a wet area, or an area with a lot of clay. Or, there are trees right in the area. The guy may be right in that the test may not prove that the system is good, but on the other hand it may find an issue if one exists. You can also go into the house and run water for hours, but this may take quite some time if the tank has become dry for whatever reason. Long and short of it, I never have the septic system inspected. You need to make offers that are low enough to cover for some unexpected problems anyway.

With all of that being said, the HUD that I bought last year had a problem with tree roots clogging the field lines and the tank. Got it all fixed for less than $1000.

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Thanks, all. On the surface of it, it sounded reasonable, but I'd never come across someone telling me a septic inspection is kind of a waste of time! They started off saying they don't normally get involved with vacant houses. They said the inspection will always tell you things look great (b/c of the reasons stated above).

I did ask about the idea that an inspection could at least reveal if there is a major problem, but the answer I got was, "Not really." Wish I'd thought to mention tree roots, @Bryan L. ! I was thinking along the lines of a tank that's cracked or fallen to pieces or something of that nature, and tree roots would have been a great example.

I did also ask about the possibility of running the water for awhile, flushing toilets, etc. But, as I suspected the answer would be, they said it really doesn't tell you anything even if you run it for hours. You need days or weeks, according to them.

I'm going to go ahead with it regardless, if for no other reason than to spot potential tree and liner issues. Thanks again.

Ya know, @Wayne Brooks , I was kind of thinking the same thing. I was surprised to hear a septic company tell me I was asking for something that wasn't going to do me much good, and I thanked them for being forthright. It was refreshing, especially after paying $250 a couple of weeks ago for a pumpout on a house we're selling ... that had been pumped out 6 months ago when we purchased and inspected it. (Buyer wanted a pumpout and inspection and asked us to pay for pumpout, which I couldn't believe a company would bill us for with a straight face. In the grand scheme of things, it was a minor annoyance. But I thought it was quite a racket.)