Should I Buy A Home with a Septic Tank?

Hang on. Don't be scared. We know that it is a feature that can make prospective buyers nervous, but it doesn't have to be scary. We promise.

Below are just a couple of questions prospective buyers tend to ask if they happen to be looking at a home with a septic tank.

How Common Are Septic Systems?

First of all, septic systems are pretty common, actually. About 20% of homes rely on such systems (whether shared among multiple households or set up as individual systems), according to the EPA. While most people think septic systems are a rural home feature, they can also be found in many towns and structured neighborhoods, depending on how the area was developed.

What Should I Do Before Buying a Home With a Septic System?


First off, know your state's rules. Some require a septic system inspection before a title transfer. But even if your state doesn't require an inspection, your lender might. (Please note! Conventional home inspections typically don't include an inspection of a septic system).

What an inspection will do is detail the system's condition, determine if it's sited a proper distance from a well (to avoid any possible contamination issues), and will examine trees surrounding the tank and drainfield, so that they can ensure no root systems are interfering with what the home has in place. Also, its important to know the age of the system. Knowing the age of the system can help you determine a plan to be proactive, so you can ensure your system is operating at optimal level when you move in, and for years to come.

Owning a home with a septic tank doesn't have to be scary. With the proper maintenance and care, you can enjoy your house for years to come.

How do I Sell a Home with a Septic Tank?

Have you ever been hesitant to sell a home with a septic system, simply because of the hassle involved? We get it - it can be daunting.

But consider this . . .


About 1/5 of homes rely on septic systems according to the EPA. While most people think septic systems are a rural home feature, they can also be found in many towns and structured neighborhoods, depending on how the area was developed. So to make things easier for you, below is a checklist you can review with your client in order to ensure the transaction will go smoothly.
  1. Try to find maintenance logs showing when the septic tank was last pumped, and to show what steps have been taken over the years to ensure the property's system has been well-maintained.

    • But what if I can't find records?
  2. Schedule a septic clean out before listing the property for sale. The benefits of doing this are:
    • You can ensure potential buyers that the system has recently been serviced
    • If any part of the yard needs to be disturbed to access the tank, you know this information BEFORE listing
    • You can have record of the type of system that you're dealing with, therefore preemptively gaining answers potential buyers may have
  3. Have the owner or septic maintenance company draw a diagram of septic components. Knowing what is where with your septic system is 75% of the battle. If you're able to arm the buyers with this information from the onset of the deals, you potentially appease fears a buyer may have about purchasing the home.
Texas has a wide variety of requirements surrounding how septic tanks are installed, including things like maximum acreage, number of buildings that can be served, etc. which can make knowing who to contact a challenge. Fortunately, most areas of the state have local authorities (i.e. county public health districts) who are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that state regulations are upheld. You can look up information on your local regulatory agency here.

Do I need to get an inspection before I sell?


The answer to this questions may be determined by the situation surrounding the transfer of title (i.e. are you buying or selling a property?). Regardless of whether the property is required to have an inspection or not, obtaining a septic inspection of property you intend to sell may be a good idea to further review the state of the septic at the time of inspection, as standard home inspections do NOT typically include thorough septic inspections.So being preemptive and getting your septic inspected BEFORE the buyer asks will show initiative and help ease the fears any potential buyer may have.

Bottom Line?


Selling a home with a septic tank doesn't have to be scary. With the proper documentation and knowledge, you can have a successful, hassle-free sale.