Friends need advice selling house, just discovered plumbing issue.

6 Replies

They were planning to list it in the spring as they've outgrown their starter home. Several weeks ago the plumbing backed up and yesterday the plumber came back to run a camera in the lines to make sure everything is clear. He discovered that the pipes leading to the city lines beneath their back yard are bellied and they are facing roughly $6200 in repairs, not including the cost to repair the deck, which will be torn out, fencing, and replacing the landscaping. They are thinking about discounting the selling price by the cost to fix the line, and letting the new buyers design the back yard however they want. I was thinking they should apply for a HELOC and have it fixed, assuming HELOCs can be used for that. The house was built in 1976 and they bought it in the summer of 2011. What's the best thing they can do in this situation?



The discount isn't likely to work.  Many buyer's for "starter homes" aren't going to have the cash to make the repair after they buy, so your pool of buyer's is reduced.

You may be able to get the contractor to wait to get paid at closing.  I sold one house like this.  We split the cost of the repair with the buyers by raising the price by $2000, then paying for the repair ($5000) out of our proceeds from the sale.  We had agreed on 50/50, but the appraiser wouldn't budge past the $2000 increase.

Or, as you say, fix it first.  Leave the landscaping minimal.  If the deck can be left off, leave it off.  Savvy buyers, and most are these days, will insist on a sewer scoping and will want the repair completed before closing.

Agreed with Jon.
Also yes you can use a HELOC for this purpose.

Sellers never factor in the time to fix something or aggravation to a buyer.

Think of it this way.

I see a house finished and in great shape newly updated asking 200,000.

I then see a house needing work discounted at 185,000 needing about 15k of work.

As a home purchaser WHY would you buy the 185k house, put about 15k in it to then arrive at a point where you just could have bought the house already done at the same price??

Now if that house had an amazing view, backyard  etc. that made it stand out that is different but I am doing an apples to apples comparison.

The 185,000 house the buyers would want to get for 170,000 because when they go through all that headache of moving and fixing the place up they want additional equity for their labor and time in addition to the raw materials costs to fix the place up.

This key piece of information is generally lost on the sellers.

I would get 2 or more additional estimates of the 6,200 to see if someone can do the same scope of work for a better price. I have gotten multiple quotes before and the difference in pricing and solutions to fix was as wide as the grand canyon.  

get a second opinion, plumbers will tell you anything to make a quick 5k.. what does bellied mean anyway.. they ussuallly colapse. alot of clay pipe was used in this era. If the problem is on the city side the city is responsible.

there is a cleanout burried in the yard, go to the city and look up the location on their map. 

I did this to my house a few years ago, I hired a backhoe operator replaced a section of pipe and backfilled it, My time and about 300.00 got it done its worked flawless ever since.

This statement by @Joel Owens is key:

The 185,000 house the buyers would want to get for 170,000 because when they go through all that headache of moving and fixing the place up they want additional equity for their labor and time in addition to the raw materials costs to fix the place up

Something simple and cheap to fix will require a discount comparable to the cost to fix it.  But there's a threshold where the discount becomes larger and larger vs. cost of work.  That's why fix and flippers can make money.

Also really agree with the statement to get multiple assessments and bids.  I've done three of these, and all three had a wide range of bids.  Last one I did was about $6000.  Would have been less if I would have been proactive in doing this.  As it was, a plumber discovered the initial problems and made some repairs.  But the entire line proved rotten and I hired an excavation company to take it all the way to the city tap.

Marcus start of by getting at least 3 bids from licensed plumbers that can pull permits

Try father and son teams .Get a reffeal from a local plumber supply house that sells to contractor only.You may not have to pay 6K

Dave Doyle

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.