After discussing a potential offer on a home with a listing agent, she revealed the home has TWO cesspools and a decomissioned UST.

Asked by Mike, Annandale, NJ Thu Jul 14, 2011

We are really annoyed thisinfo wasn't on the listing. The asking price seems generally appropriate IF it had a septic and he had removed the UST. Just wondering, don't these two issues drastically reduce a home's value? The owner says he "did enough" by decommissioning the tank. Owner is also FIRM on his price. Any thoughts other than just run!

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Laura Gianno…, Agent, Manahawkin, NJ
Thu Jul 14, 2011
If the owner has the paperwork from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection certifying the work was done and soil samples came back clear, that's all the owner is required to do. As for the cesspools, find out the cost of removal, and deduct that from your offer.

Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore
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Ulka Rodgers, Agent, Warren, NJ
Thu Jul 14, 2011
I am an agent who works in your area around Clinton/Annandale NJ. I am not sure which specific listing you are talking about, but here are some general suggestions.
Always ask to see the seller's disclosure, if available - this should include info such as whether the property has a septic system or cesspool, and UST properly decommissioned with township and county approvals.
Some townships in our area do allow decommission without removal of UST. Hence it may not reduce the home's value in such townships, if done with proper permits and inspections.
Cesspools generally do reduce the home's value, but depends on whether comparable homes also have cesspools. They are common in some towns in our area. If it needs repair (based on an inspection) the health dept now requires replacement with septic. BTW, septic/cesspool inspections can cost anywhere between $400 - $1200 depending on what is included in the inspection e.g. digging to expose tank opening and distribution box, pumping out, video inspection etc.
Whether the owner is asking for a reasonable price again depends on actual sold prices in the specific town. Seller is entitled to refuse any offer whether or not reasonable - and it may mean the property just sits on the market! Their choice - even if it is foolish.
This deal sounds like a 'Just Run' situation.
Ulka Rodgers
REMAX Competitive Edge
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Joan Congilo…, Agent, Freehold, NJ
Thu Jul 14, 2011
Hi Mike
It is really hard to comment on whether or not the issues drastically reduce the home value without knowing where this home is priced at and if it was marketed as a handyman or being sold striclty as is.On most listings in NJ the sellers typically fill out a sellers disclosure (not mandatory, just customary) which potential buyers have an opportunity to review at anytime before, or during a negotiation. Deficiencies are usually not posted on a listing. It sounds like you still have time to do your diligence & get prices for the necessary repairs since the seller is not willing to do them. If it is more than you care to take on then your option is to try to renegotiate the price, buy it as is, or move on and look for another property. If you are already in contract I would discuss your options with your real estate attorney & ask what you can do since it was not disclosed earlier.
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Molly C. Wer…, Agent, Clinton, NJ
Thu Jul 14, 2011
If your seller isn't willing to get the proper permits and certifications regarding the underground tank and deal with the cesspool issues....RUN as fast as you can. These items definetly affect the value of the home and now the seller has a duty to disclose these issues now that they've been made aware of them. The listing agent does as well. You have to figure that the ug tank issue (if the tank hasn't been leaking) could cost about $10K to have it removed and a new above ground tank be put in. And as to cesspools, I've heard recently from a septic engineer that soon there may be a law making a homeowner selling their house with a cesspool has to install a septic system prior to closing (even if cesspool is functional). Depending on the property & property conditions, septic systems can cost as much as $50K (most cost between $15K and $25K but can easily cost more).
I hope that this helps. If you aren't working with a realtor, please feel free to call me (908-334-0437). I am a local realtor in the Clinton area with 11 years of experience.
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Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Thu Jul 14, 2011
When I represent a Buyer, I either get their permission to do inspections:
This always includes a General Inspection coupled with a Roof Inspection and a Pest Inspection.
As so often happens in an area like this, we may need a Septic Inspection and a Well Inspection.

Most of these Inspection are either cheap, or free; (the company wants to keep the customer and spread Good Will.)

If my Client does not want the Inspection, for any reason, I have them sign an ADVISORY that they decline such-and-such Inspection(s). This emphasizes how import the Inspections are.

Also, this is a step in the Buying process that Buyers, without a Buyer's Agent, will not be aware of. One of the ways we protect our Clients.

Good luck and may God bless.
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