I am looking at a property today that my have a leaking oil tank. I do not know if it is above ground or underground. How can I safely acquire the property.
As you are asking the question, I would guess that you know that a leaking oil tank can / will open up world of issues; Phase 1, Phase 2, remediation, retesting and who knows what else.
You could purchase it subject to all remediation done by the seller and certification of cleanup by the fire dept / county / state (who ever has juristriction on this).
Alternativley, you could be willing to invest in the testing / consultants necessary to scope the problem (with no guarrantee that they are 100% correct) and then make offer taking the results into account.
Until you know the scope of the problem, you can not know the cost to fix it so unless you have done this before and have deep pockets, making any offer is very high risk.
I would have the site looked at by at environmental firm. This can cause a great deal of liability issues depending on what the property will be used for.
Environmental companies can perform an assessment called and ESA or "Desktop Review" its a historical record search that ties into a number of databases that will know the history of that tank if their is one, who put it in, and if it is still deemed "hazardous or dangerous" to the public.
My company is an environmental firm that handles these types of issues in the commercial and residential real estate industry. If you have any other questions or need further assistance please feel free to reach out.
The seller is wearing all of the risk. He/she needs to have it removed, cleaned up and pass inspection. Once that's done you can close. If they don't want to do it, tell them to take a hike and go find another deal. It's really that simple and not something to be afraid of.