I made an offer on a house in Virginia. Inspections reveled buried oil tank. Should this have been revealed when we made an offer?

Asked by j.shields, Lynchburg, VA Thu Dec 12, 2013

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John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Thu Dec 12, 2013
It should have been revealed only if it was known by the seller. In the 1970's gas crunch there were hundreds of thousands of underground 500 and 1000 gallon fuel tanks installed on residential properties all across the US. After the crunch, many of the tanks were covered in dirt and forgotten. Owners with tanks in their yard passed away and the families who sold their properties may not have known about the old tank.
By now you probably know that the tank has to be removed and the ground around it inspected and tested for contamination, which isn't cheap. Like any other problem found during inspection, you should have the opportunity to cancel the deal if you're still in the inspection contingency period or amend the contract so that removal and a clean inspection report are requirements for closing.
Best of luck!
2 votes
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Thu Dec 12, 2013
Before you made an offer you should have reviewed the seller property information form. That should have a section regarding buried tanks where the seller would disclose if they know. You buyer agent should be guiding you through the forms and what ti ask.
1 vote
Vicki Sommers, Agent, Lakeville, MN
Thu Dec 12, 2013
The seller and the seller's agent have a duty to disclose things they know about the property. It is also possible that when the seller purchased the home their home inspector didn't catch the fact that there is a buried oil tank. Here is a perfect example of why hiring a great home inspector is so important. Be grateful you are aware of the tank because it should be the seller's responsibility to correct this before closing.
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Dec 12, 2013
If the seller knew, definitely. If buried tanks are an issue in that area than I would think your agent would have suggested getting an inspection as we do in san francisco.
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JR Thrasher, Agent, San Diego, CA
Thu Dec 12, 2013
Did the seller know about it?

J.R. Thrasher
0 votes
Brian Kurtz, Agent, Dearborn, MI
Thu Dec 12, 2013
Here in Michigan, there is a question in regards to whether or not the seller knows of any buried storage tanks. It might not be the case in other states.

I'm assuming that your agent made a few copies of your offer prior to submission, right? One for you, one for them, and one to go to the seller for review. If so, then you can review the disclosure form and see if it was disclosed there.

Sometimes people get upset about such things, but usually AFTER they've already bought the property and are now stuck with having to make amends to it. As John said though, if the seller had no idea that it was there, then they most likely would not be held liable in court unless it could be proved that they knew the tanks were there. And how could one prove what someone else knew or didn't know?
Web Reference:  http://plymouthhomes.tv/
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