Home Buying in Branchburg>Question Details

Madison, Home Buyer in Branchburg, NJ

Oil Tank Leak...

Asked by Madison, Branchburg, NJ Wed Sep 1, 2010

I am in the process of buying a home. Upon a scan of the property an oil tank was discovered. During the removal of the tank by the seller, a "small" leak was found. The oil company has stated to the seller the soil is expected to be fully remediated 30 days after our closing date, so the seller's attorney is now asking for an extension for the closing. Seller seems motivated to sell..offering to pay for us to store our belongings, rent a temporary place, reduce purchase price, etc. Should we continue to pursue this home??? Or are we potentially in for a long road ahead?? Any thoughts on what (if any) reduction in price we should ask for being that they have also agreed to remedy the soil??

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Kenneth Verbeyst’s answer
Madison ,
If the sellers are truly willing to assist you, have them grant you a use and occupancy so that you may move in and occupy for a reasonable fee until they have fully remediated and can provide all required documents. Understand that NJ has recently changed many of its ways it handles these cases. It used to be that DEP handled everything but I believe due to the back log of up to years they may now be allowing contractors who are certified to handle closure of the case. In any event I wouldnt rush to close. (I personally had a $300K clean up)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 2, 2010
You could be in for a long road ahead if the contamination got into any water supply--underground streams, etc. Get the preliminary report from the remediation company and you should get a good idea of what the clean up will entail. There are no guarantees that it will get done that quickly, though.
How much you ask the sellers to concede will depend on the amount of the delay and the inconvenience you are put through.
Web Reference: http://www.dianeglander.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 2, 2010
I agree with you that the seller is offering alot for you to pursue his home, but an oil leak is an environmental issure. In New York where I practice real estate if its a spill the epa gets called in and it could take ahwhile depending on how busy they are and it is very costly to the seller, it was very costly to him.It probably can be fixed but you have to find out how long in New Jersey does it take to remedy. I suggest the seller calls in Environmental companies to give him an estimate.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 2, 2010
A step seems to be missing in your account of the details (unintended ommission?). Simply because a leak is discovered does not automatically indicate contamination. After a leak is discovered (I hope you or your agent were there to ensure that the company pulling the tank didn't damage it and thus cause the leak), the soil is sent to a state sanctioned testing center (or it might be the DEP - can't remember but I do know that they are kept in the loop) to test for a certain level of contamination (can't remember the level determined by the state). If the soil is contaminated at a certain level, THEN remediation is mandatory. So my question is.....has the soil been sent for testing and unacceptable levels of contamination found?

And I agree, 30 days is quick.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 2, 2010
ditto Anthony. There are many situations in which closing and holding escrow is sufficient until issues are resolved, but this is not one of them. If you want this house, proceed, and be prepared to wait until full documentation of remediation is provided BEFORE closing. Also, if you don't have a real estate attorney, get one. This is a situation where you really want that protection....especially if you are not working with an agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 1, 2010
Just in agreement with everyone else. One thing I would say from my experience is make sure you have full documentation that the problem has been taken care of in full BEFORE anything is transferred into your name and or possession. Oil tank leaks into the ground could be simple, to major nasty problems costing tens of thousands of dollars to resolve. I personally would not take on the risk until confirmed by the proper authority and documented that the problem is gone, and not in anyway going to be your responsibility. Consult a real estate attorney for full guidance on the matter.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 1, 2010
I would suggest to you to continue with the sale. The seller's are being response to you needs, which is very nice of them. 30 days after our closing is quick for a full remediation. Are they moving the oil tank to a new location, or replacing the heating system to gas? That would affect the amount if any reduction is needed. The soil should be in compliance with the NJ guidelines, after the remediation. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 1, 2010
the oversight for this is NJ DEP not EPA. Once the work is completed satisfactorily a NFA (no further action) letter will be sent from DEP. TYpically the oil company would not do the remediation but rather a licensed firm specialising in this. The work doesnt take as long as the paperwork can (that could take a year or more) There are things you can do to go ahead and purchase and close (holding sufficient escrow and see if sellers home owner policy is covering the work. Check with your proposed home owner insurer as they may refuse to issue a policy if there is an outstanding issue like this. In which case you may not be able to close before clean up is completed and letter issued)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 1, 2010
Hey Madison,

I would not worry abour closing on the home as long as the seller gives you proof that the leak has been remediated according to the EPA both local and federal. Each locality controls what the consider acceptable remediation. It should be documented by a company which deals with this type of cleanup. Your real estate agent should be able to lead you in the right direction. If you need more information, go to this website.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 1, 2010
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