Septic + Water Well + Oil Tank = No go?

7 Replies

Hi everyone! I've been looking at some properties to buy that have all of these 3 characteristics. I understand that it will all depend on the maintenance, current condition, etc, but as a rule of thumb, how would you look at properties that have all of them?


All of them on one property? I would pass.

I have no idea what the city permit processes are in your area but for me here in CA, I will never buy another home on septic again (assuming I need to change it out or update it). My previous experiences with it have been nothing short of absolutely horrific.

Certainly there are options to buy properties without any of these three.

Thanks @Will Barnard - I was imagining that it could be a total disaster, but just wanted to hear other experiences. Thanks!

@Stefano Grottoli I think it depends on two things - 1. condition of those three based on inspection (and the amount of repairs possibly needed) and 2. what is normal in your area? 

One big question that I have, that may effect your thinking, is what are you buying them for? Long term buy and hold? If that's the case, I would be very careful about my CapEx budgetting to include major repairs on these items in the future. If it is a flip, see below.

I have bought a house with an oil tank in an area where EVERY house in town had an oil tank. In that case, it is not a big deal. The one exception to this is under-ground oil tanks. If these ever leak, or need to be replaced, I have heard that it can become a HUGE problem, possibly involving the EPA because of a toxic spill. I'd stay away from under-ground tanks, but above ground tanks are pretty common and easy to deal with in many areas. 

Septic and wells are similar. Some areas have ALL septic and wells, and as long as it is the standard of the neighborhood/community and they check out in inspection, I wouldn't worry about it. However, if they don't look good in inspection wells and septic can have huge costs to fix (like $10,000+ for septic and probably similar for wells). 

@Justin Koehn the idea is to buy them to flip. I don't think they are the standard in the area, but it's a good point. Will try to investigate. Thanks for the answer!

I had a house that had all 3. Ended up replacing the septic system, but the oil and well were fine and not a deterrent to buyers. It's common in my area.

In many areas of NJ, well and septic are common. Sure, there can be problems with them, but if they are inspected, I personally wouldn’t worry too much.

In-ground oil tanks are a different story. There are way too many stories (some my own) with tank issues. This is a huge red flag for me. BUT... maybe a good opportunity for buying a property no one else wants. ?

Agree with @Mike McCarthy . Nearly every home in my area has both a well and septic and I wouldn't think twice about it. I would encourage a water quality test  and a septic inspection but otherwise wouldn't worry about it.

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