Home Buying in 19301>Question Details

TF_buyer, Both Buyer and Seller in 19087

On-site septic systems..

Asked by TF_buyer, 19087 Sat Mar 22, 2008

How big of a negative is an on-site sewer in an expensive neighborhood where most houses have public sewer?

Help the community by answering this question:


It depends on whether you are buying or selling. As a buyer, if the property has the potential for hooking up to public, or room for a new system, I would think of it as a plus not a negative. Perhaps in an expensive neighborhood such as Wayne paying sewer bills is not a big deal for homeowners but almost everyone likes to save money. Sewage is the most expensive part of the water/sewer bill and to avoid paying it is nice. I have almost always had a septic system and I love it. The savings is huge. My septic was old when I moved in and I have been here 10 years. I have not had to spend a penny. Compare that to the $300 per quarter I was paying, 1200 per year, $12,000 over 10 years saved in sewer and water. A replacement system at my home would run around $6-7000. I do check the sludge levels every couple years to see if a pumping is necessary. It has not been. On the other side of the coin, as a seller, most people are ignorant and just listen to the panic statements that they hear. A potential buyer may be scared off by septic if all they ever had was public. Some homes where public is close are required to hook up when a home changes ownership and as a general rule, I just don't show properties with on site septic and a lot size under .5 acres and no potential to hook up to public in the future.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 22, 2008
All depends if it's working properly. Septic Systems our finite systems. If you have NO room for expansion of the existing system or it inerferes with the water supply of this or neighboring properties then it is not only a negative but a big health and safety issue. We have many very high end areas that have septic systems. This means they are in the country and NOT able to be hooked up to City services. However, if you can hook-up to sewer and abandon the septic system I think i would be a HUGE plus in the marketing of the property. It will create both buyer AND seller piece of mind knowing that when they close escrow the system will NOT be an issue of further, future litigation.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 22, 2008
Sorry TF, I have a question for Elizabeth. How is your on site septic so expensive?? My Parents had an old system, installed in the 50's and we never had a problem with it. Of course, we pumped the Tank every 2 years as suggested and once every maybe 5-10 years had to put a chemical into the system to keep tree roots from disturbing the leach field. Because of a MANDATE by our local town, we now pay $83/per month currently for the REST of Eternity. Not to mention the hook up fees and the collapsing and filling of the old system. We paid $165 for each time the tank was pumped, every 2 years. That's less than $10/mo extrapulated over 50 years. Sorry, there is no comparison here.

Your system, sounds like it was not taken care of.

TF, If you are considering a home with a septic, GET it inspected. Go to the Health Department, or have your agent do their job and do this for you, pull the drawings and permits for the septic and well (if there's a Well too). At the Health Department, they should have a book on how to care for your septic. Or you can research on line. Let's look at the reality of things, have your waste water pumped away at a monthly fee, where it goes to a plant, is treated with chemicals, then is sifted thru a man made system of layers, to be recycled into drinking water. OR, The natural way of the earth and its many layers filtering out the waste water.

There's something to be said about Nature taking care of things, vs. Chemicals Don't you think?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 6, 2009
I recently wrote an article on this subject for buyers in Atlanta.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 6, 2009
I think Howard brings up a valid and timely point about a septic system being a "greener" alternative to hooking up to sewer. However, a non-functioning system will also be "green" especially in the heat of summer! If you see a green streak running from the tank's location out into a field that's NOT a good thing!! They are supposed to "leach" into the ground not come up to the top!
Another "green" aspect is that the sludge generated by human waste, and with it the chemicals we put into our bodies, would be contained in the tank as the liquids actually "leach" into the field for dispersion. However, in Sonoma County, Greatest State of California, we have some archaic thinking regarding leading edge systems. The County folks rely either on large expansion fields, at least 100' from an existing well head (this could get problematic if you're on a smallish lot and your well is close by as is your neighbors!), and/or a "at-grade" septic system called a "Mound". This system is sand based and actually will evaporate rather than "leach" down. Waste is "metered" into the system to allow proper evaporation. The county would have an easement for the life of the system to make sure your not "metering" too much. Yes, they install, what else, a Meter to determine this. You also may have to have future expansion of the system. You may also install a "grey" water line which extends the useage of your system substantially. The "grey" water system is very simple and takes your sink,dishwasher,washing machine,shower, water into a box with gravel where it leaches also. Any "waste" lines get routed to the septic system tank.
I think those who say "run" from septics come from ignorance of the systems and how they function. In our County some areas "perc" like crazy and the systems last 30-50 years before installation of new lines. Other areas we KNOW you'll be hard pressed to get a "perc" which will allow a septic system. Your only recourse is to wait for sewer. Our County also allows emergency repairs for those who have no alternative for sewer hookup or big expansion fields. But every County is different. Some of the systems spoken here would NOT work in my County. A qualified "Country property specialist" will have on his approved vendor list a septic inspector who knows his/her stuff. I've used a retired "Sanitarian" who worked for the County for my inspections. He was fun, extremely knowledgeable about perc areas, expansion, type of systems, etc and gave a very good report. Also, best practices as a Realtor, requires you to ask your client at the time of sale if they have any desire to expand their home. If they do you'll need to direct them to the County to see if the existing system needs updating and if it CAN be done!
But if you wish to be "Green" and not load our sewer systems with more waste and the bi-product of our waster, toxic sludge, stay "Green" and keep the septic!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 16, 2008
Please, please listen to me, RUN AWAY!!!! the septic system is the only thing I honestly HATE about my house. Is expensive, non dependable if its a matter of choice go with public sewer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 16, 2008
Septic is about dependability and cost. Whether its a single system onsite, community, or large public system. An onsite system, properly installed and maintained can be a positive, much cheaper than never ending sewer bills. An onsite that predates regulation, 1972, or that was of poor design or quality, or that just wasn't maintained could be negative to value and need expense repair or replacement. A good inspection is key to winning or losing. If you purchase a home with onsite septic make sure it is sound presently and that you learn the proper way to maintain the system. An owner that isn't planning to learn how to care for the system or pay a professional to do the maintanence should buy a home with sewer or convert to sewer where available.
Web Reference: http://husevansrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 14, 2008
Please don't let the less knowledgable deter you if you really like the home. There are some points not many people consider. I would never ever hook to a public system unless it was not possible to have onsite at a reasonable cost. Onsite septic is one very "green" thing you can do. The water table is recharged at the point of use, pure and naturally, without chemicals, expensive labor and the need for power to run all the equipment. In this day of expensive energy, conserving it should be paramount. There are systems out there to minimize the land necessary. One is called Infiltator, and they can use as little as 60% of the land space a standard system uses. Obvioulsy you will need a reasonable perk rate to install onsite. Near me, just for example, with an average perk rate a 4 bedroom home may need approximately 1000 square feet. With infiltrator, you may only need 600 square feet. That is an area 20x30, not very big at all, and it is not like you can't enjoy that part of the property. No you can't build on it park on it, or put a pool on it but you can have a lovely yard and it will support normal yard traffic just fine. I am preparing to install one of these systems myself on a lot I am improving. I forgot to mention it is also "greener" and cheaper than a standard gravel/pipe system.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
The feedback has been 50/50 on this. Half of the people who have had septic tanks in the past tell me that it is a big negative especially if there is no option to convert. Even on this site, half the realtors seem to have concerns about it. I talked to a company that maintains these systems and they said to expect redoing the drain field especially if the original one is more than 30 years old. That would mean more of the land would be used for this. We decided not to pursue the property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 26, 2008
The system itself is a perfectly functional one. Sure, public sewer is preferable, but depending on the cost to hook up to the public system, if at all possible, could prove to be quite costly.

I currently have a $1,875,000 listing, and it is on 7 acres. The potential buyers have not said a negative word yet about the system. What kind of feedback are you getting?
Web Reference: http://www.askthebigguy.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 25, 2008
The only negative I have observed in my transactions with on-site septics has nothing to do with functionality, but rather whether the specs of the septic system meet or exceed the requirements from the local municipality in order to secure a certification for the mortgage company. The agreement of sale contains a contingency for this topic.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 23, 2008
An On-site septic system may have a negative effect on the appraised value or may not. There are a lot variables that need to taken into consideration to determine it. Being in an expensive neighborhood does not necessarily create a negative. It may however, be a negative selling to certain buyers. The age of the house, size lot/land, location, availability of public sewer, and the acceptance of septic systems within the market area are but a few items needed for analysis to determine value. I would recommend consulting with a local appraiser to help determine if the effect is negative or not.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 22, 2008
ERRR...ERRR...ABORT! ABORT! Run, don't walk. Would you rather have a bed pan or a toilet?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 22, 2008
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer