Can you sell a house with an old septic tank?
If you have an outdated septic tank you can still sell your property but you will have to disclose the situation to any potential buyer and agree with them who will take on the responsibility for updating the system to comply with the regulations.
This means that one of you will be liable for the cost of the work. If it is you as the seller then you will have to stump up the cash and arrange for the work to be completed before the sale. If you agree that the buyer will pay then they will likely want the cost to be knocked off the asking price.
Can you get a mortgage on a house with a septic tank?
To make things even more complicated, even if you find a buyer who is happy to go ahead with buying your home with an old septic tank, chances are their mortgage lender won’t be. Most lenders will not offer a mortgage on a home with a septic tank unless it is Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) compliant. That means a modern tank that treats the wastewater in such a way that it can be discharged without problems.
This reluctance to lend can easily break the chain of a house sale. What you thought was a signed and sealed sale suddenly falls apart because your buyers simply can’t get the mortgage money they need to go ahead.
How much longer will it take to sell a house with a septic tank
It’s no secret that the more potential buyers there are for a property the faster it will sell and the better the price it will achieve. When it comes to selling a house with a septic tank there are a few reasons that can push the sale time substantially beyond what would be expected for an average property sale.
The first of these reasons is location. Generally speaking houses that require a septic tank i.e. one not connected to a centralised sewage system, will be situated away from densely populated areas such as towns and cities. Rural properties will typically take longer to sell than their city counterparts as there is naturally less demand for them, that’s not to say that they are less desirable but fewer people are willing to take on long commutes for work and workplaces are usually in more populated areas. It is not surprising that a substantial number of the top 10 slowest selling postcodes are situated in rural areas, many with an average selling time of over a year and a half.
Another factor to consider is the septic tank itself, as previously stated a buyer might find it difficult to get a mortgage to purchase a property with an out of date or non compliant septic tank, this limits the sale to cash buyers further reducing the number of people that are actually in a position to purchase the property, increasing the sale time.
Even if you do find the proverbial hens teeth and secure a buyer the conveyancing time could also be substantially increased with the additional checks that the solicitors will need to carry out to make sure that the septic tank is up to standard, after all they are acting in the best interest of their client i.e. the buyer.
All in all it could take well over a year, if not two before the right buyer comes along and then several months more before the sale reaches completion. There is a way that you can speed up this process if you are in need of a fast sale, which I’ll get onto later.
Do you need to declare a septic tank when selling a house?
With all this in mind, you might be tempted to just try and hide your septic tank problems and hope that no one notices. This is not a good idea. You are legally obliged to tell potential buyers about your septic tank, under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, and if you don’t, they can sue you.
You need to detail, in writing, where the tank is, where it drains to, when it was installed, when it was serviced and any problems you have had with the system.
There’s no point being ‘economical with the truth’ here either. As soon as a septic tank is mentioned, your buyers will commission what is known as a Homebuyers Drainage Survey. If you haven’t been completely honest with your buyers, this will soon expose the full story, and the game will be over – and so will your sale.
If you want to maintain the trust of potential buyers, you have to be upfront, even if this means your house will take considerably longer to sell.