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Well And Septic Inspections Are They Required For A Mortgage?

Lately I have been getting a number of questions about septic guidelines, and whether septic inspections are automatically required to qualify for a mortgage.  Given the number of questions that I have received, I have decide to cover this issue along with another that is very closely related, are Well inspections automatically required to qualify for a mortgage.  So Well And Septic Inspections Are They Required For A Mortgage?  The quick and short answer is NO, but that does not mean that a Lender will not ask for one.

There are no Mortgage Programs that I am aware of that will automatically require for a Well or Septic Inspection to be done when applying for a mortgage.  However, one maybe requested by a Lender based on the physical observation of an Appraiser at the time the appraisal is done, or based on sever weather conditions at the time of the purchase.

For example, if an Appraiser notes on the appraisal that the ground around a Septic System is unusually wet, that could be a sign of a failing Septic System so the Lender could very well ask for a Septic Inspection to be done.  Like wise if there has been sever weather conditions, and the ground around the well is unusually wet a Lender may require a Well Inspection even if the Appraiser does not bring attention to it in the appraiser.  One almost sure fire way for a Well Inspection to be required on a FHA Loan, is if the Well and Septic are less than 50'-0" apart as well as a special exception from FHA.

Having said all this, regardless of whether or not a Well and/or Septic Inspection is requested by a Lender, if I were purchasing a property I would want one done.  It is not uncommon for Wells and Septic Systems to fail, and to install a new one can be a very expensive expenditure.  Purchasing a property and then noticing that the water looks or taste funny after moving in is not a surprise that you want.  The same would be true for a Septic System, however, here if the Buyer was to have a Home Inspection done, the Home Inspector generally will run the water a fair length of time to test the Septic System.  But a Home Inspector is not a Septic Inspector, and may not notice something that is not obvious to the him/her, but would give reason for suspicion to a Septic Inspector.

Replacing a Well or Septic can cost thousands of dollars, while Well and Septic Inspections are only a few hundred dollars each.  For me the old saying "Penny wise and pound foolish" applies here.  I would say the same for a Home Inspection.  A Home Inspection is worth every penny that a Homebuyer pays for one.  Home Inspectors know what to look for, and have far more experience at identifying problems than a Homebuyer, no matter how many houses they have bought.

Well And Septic Inspections Are They Required For A Mortgage? NO.  But is it a very wise investment to have one done YES!

 

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 Info about the author:

George Souto NMLS# 65149 is a Loan Officer who can assist you with all your FHA, CHFA, and Conventional mortgage needs in Connecticut. George resides in Middlesex County which includes Middletown, Middlefield, Durham, Cromwell, Portland, Higganum, Haddam, East Haddam, Chester, Deep River, and Essex. George can be contacted at (860) 573-1308 or gsouto@mccuemortgage.com

33 commentsGeorge Souto • June 11 2013 01:29AM

Comments

Nice job with the post. When someone is buying a home, where there is no city water and sewer, getting them checked out is a no brainer. If there is a problem afterwards to fix a problem can cost thousands.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) about 1 year ago

Great explanation, George.  Yes, it seems like the lender's and home owner's incentives are aligned here.  If I were buying a property that had these, I would want to know, too.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring (Floor Coverings International Westchester NY & Stamford CT) about 1 year ago

Interesting.  MD and VA require a health department certificate of potable water (bacterial count) for homes with well water.  Septic inspections are not required but anyone who would buy a home with an on-site sewage treatment system has got to have a high tolerance for risk or an unlimited budget for after market repairs.

 Also, I believe that VA requires that homes with well water connect to the public water supply if public water is available. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 1 year ago

Good morning, George....the state of MA requires a title 5 septic certification be done prior to closing.... a failed system needs to pass or be repaired or have a new one installed.... there is not law for well water but any one with any common sense will have a quality and quantity test performed....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "New Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) about 1 year ago

Joe, I agree.  Regardless of the Loan Program Guidelines, I would want an inspection no matter what.

Debbie absolutely

Lenn it is surprising that Program Guidelines don't automatically call for Well and Septic Inspections.  If a system fails the cost to replace it could very well cause a homeowner to default on their mortgage if they can't afford to fix it and live in the house.  It makes sense for Cities and Towns to ask for especially a Well Inspection, but even if the town requires it does not mean the Lender will ask for it.  You are right that if public water and sewage system is available FHA makes them connect to it, I will have to check on VA.  But in the case of FHA if a homeowner demonstrates a financial hardship to hook-up to the public system (a hard ship is the cost of hook-up is more than 3% of the sales price) then FHA will grant a waiver.

Barbara, I think all towns should require that, it is in their interest as well in the interest of the homeowner to have one done.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages Connecticut) about 1 year ago

Interesting George, I have never not had a buyer do a septic inspection...only customers i take!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (Phillips Post Road Realty ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) about 1 year ago

George,

Unless they've changed in the last 6+/- years I believe VA will always require an inspection.

Septic inspection normally means pumping and looking at the area above the tile field or dry-well.

Wel inspection means a water test.

It sounds simple, wrong one or the other normally both will require the inspection to measure the distance and location of the well and septic systems.

A big problem comes with older rural lots and small lots because the relationship of your systems to your neighbor's is just as crucial.

Keep in mind my information is dated.

Bill

 

Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) about 1 year ago

George, great post to remind buyers this IS important, and the need to do your due diligence is vital!     We don't have this in town, generally only in rural areas.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) about 1 year ago

George, this is a great topic.  From our point our point of view, when we are representing buyers, we highly suggest that the well and septic system be inspected.  These inspections are extremely important for buyers.

Posted by Pat & Steve Pribisko (Keller Williams Greater Cleveland West) about 1 year ago

As a buyer you should have an inspection of the well and other septic tanks for your own well being. Even though it is not required, it could prove to be a big dollar problem.

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) about 1 year ago

Good post!  As we know, no buyer ever wants to make that purchase without checking that out first!

Posted by Debbie Walsh, Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.928.8000 (Keller Williams Realty) about 1 year ago

George - - I am with William (#7) regarding the VA requirements for septic inspection.  We had one where the system had been pumped 3-4 months prior for a previous VA purchase attempt, and the lender told us, still needed to be done again.  I believe it also has to be verified as properly sized -- for if someone added bedrooms to the house and didn't get it permitted, they may not have gotten the septic tank resized properly.

As you say, it only makes sense that both the septic and well be checked.

Posted by Steven Cook, - Pierce, King, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason Counties (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 1 year ago

That question comes up in my area often. Our contracts have well and septic inspections in them as a default. If its in the contract the lender will require them and I think its a good thing..

Posted by Scott Fogleman, Witt-Fogleman, Inc. - Bedford, Lynchburg, and Roan (Witt-Fogleman Team 434-941-8847) about 1 year ago

Great post!  This is a question that comes up frequently, and I agree that buyers should have all the inspections they can regardless if they are required by lender.

Posted by Francine Viola, Realtor, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs (Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty) about 1 year ago

Excellent post, George. Great reminder for all of us to be aware and diligent- to highly recommend both well and septic systems be thoroughly inspected.

Posted by Jane Chaulklin-Schott, TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836 (TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766) about 1 year ago
Another awesome post! Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Rosie Moore (Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City) about 1 year ago

George, you're right that a few dollars spent upfront will avoid big dollar problems down the road. I have had underwriters raise issues with well and septic systems less than 100' apart, and by not much. In those instances, a letter from the town that the systems were acceptable despite the less than 100 ft distance.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754) about 1 year ago

Thank you for sharing this valuable information.  In our area we actually have many cesspools as well.  I will always recommend to my clients that an inspection of a septic system and a well be done. 

Good information.

Posted by Sara Miniman, Weichert Realtors NJ (Weichert) about 1 year ago

Ginny a septic inspection is pretty common around here even though Mortgage Programs don't require it.

Bill I wanted to verify the guideline for VA, but I could not find a specific answer in the VA Guideline Book, so I asked our Head Underwriter and that is the answer that I got, that none of the Guidelines for the loan programs we do, and we do VA, require a Septic or Well inspections unless something triggers it like some of the examples I gave.  Good point about the distances being a problem between Well and Septic with the older properties.  The other issue with older properties is that there is normally no map on file at Town Hall which shows the location of the Well and Septic, so in that case a sketch by a Home Inspector, Well Inspector, or Septic Inspector will be required on their letter head show the location and distances.

Joan the same here.  This is not an issue in the cities, but in the country it is usually an issue.

Pat and Steve that is good advice and it could end up saving them a lot of money.

Jimmy I completely agree.

Debbie that is a wise thing to do.

Steven, a Lender may very well require that, even if it is not in the Guidelines.  These days there are so many Lender and Investor overlays that it is hard to distinguish them from the Program Guidelines.

Scott you are correct, if it is in the contract then the Lender is going to require a letter from the Buyer stating that it has been done, just like if there is a repair listed in the contract that the Seller has agreed to do.  If it is in the contract then it has to be done before a clear to close is given.

Francine that is the smart thing to do.

Jane we need to protect our Buyers and Borrowers.

Rosie thank you for saying that.

Ed that letter will do it for less than a 100 feet, but if it is less than 50 feet it will require a waiver if it is a FHA Loan.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages Connecticut) about 1 year ago

Inspections for water and septic outside the city services are required here by some banks, not all. If they aren't of course you should always recommend it done anyway.

Posted by Joel Weihe, Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits (Realty World Alliance) about 1 year ago

Hi George -- I think is is important to have a septic inspection and an well inspection - that measure both flow and water quality.  If the time for inspections pass and then the appraiser want a further inspection, it can really be a problem for the buyer in the event something is found...  So, it is best to have an inpsection up front so the buyer can ask the seller to resolve any issues.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 1 year ago

George,

Great post!!! Let me put in my two cents worth. As I sell vacation/second home property exclusively, we often run into the following, vacant improved properties which are seldom occupied by the owners as they are used as a vacation retreat or summertime weekend place. I have experienced on more than one occasion, where the tank itself has developed a crack from lack of use. When contemplating the purchase of an unoccupied dwelling utilizing a septic system, checking on the history (usage) of the system is a must. Around our lake, local codes have changed to a point where almost every new or replacement system installed is an "engineered" system. This might include the installation of a raised drainfield, or a pumping unit required to move the effluent up hill. The potable water issues you raise are the primary reason for our updated health permit septic requirements. To protect everyone involved, I strongly suggest my prospective buyer's stipulate on the purchase offer contract, a septic tank inspection will be required. I am currently on hold with one closing where the septic tank is located under a retaining wall. The buyer and seller will have to come to some agreement as to how the cost of excavating the wall and opening up the tank will be paid for. Septic tank inspections - by all means.....

Posted by Sharon Miller (RE/MAX Platinum) about 1 year ago
It is interesting because in this area you see them done on most every case.
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) about 1 year ago

Good for you for covering both the lender side and the buyer side of an inspection.  Ditto on the "If I were buying a home...."  Definitely get an inspection!

Posted by Jan Green, RE/MAX Excalibur Scottsdale REALTORĀ®, GREENĀ® (Scottsdale, Phoenix, Cave Creek, Carefree, Fountain Hills) about 1 year ago

George, here in MA - Title V 'PASS' is needed at closing for buyers who borrow money from lenders.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (Keller Williams Realty) about 1 year ago

What about if the grass is greener? Totally agree with you that they should get it inspected as it's an important component of the house they're purchasing. And you definitely don't want to experience a septic tank going bad.

Posted by Aaron Hofmann, aka Mr. Smyrna Vinings (Atlanta Communities) about 1 year ago

Well and septic system inspections should be a requirement. Over the years I have seem many issues when these inspections have been waived. Great job with the post.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) about 1 year ago
George, every time there is a septic system in use, we recommend a septic inspection and emphasize the need for one with narratives of the problems discovered in previous septic inspections. For the $175.00 fee the inspection costs , it has saved my principals thousands $$$$, and me lots of headaches!
Posted by Norman Padula, GRI, CDPE, PA~Presence,Persistence & Perseverance (Keller Williams Carmel Valley) about 1 year ago

Good Morning G: This is some great Info for all in the business,  keep up the good work and good luck with your sales,  E

Posted by Ed & Tracy Oliva, Arizona Agents (West USA Realty - Arizona) about 1 year ago

My market, northern Virginia requires that septic tanks be pumped and inspected by a licensed contractor.  Wells are tested for flow rate and purity.

Erick Blackwelder
Exit Choice Realty
Washington DC suburbs
703-677-1120

 

Posted by Erick Blackwelder, Text or call Erick now at 703-677-1120. (Cell: 703-677-1120) about 1 year ago

I have never seen an FHA/VA or conventional loan around here that didn't require a well and septic inspection. It might be in areas where wells and septics are rare that the inspections slip by.

I would and do strongly suggest that a buyer get a well and septic inspection.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) about 1 year ago

Always include this inpsection - no matter what!

Years earlier - decades ago - I sold a home with a spetic system.  A week after closing it had to be replaced.  Who do you think cuased this expense from this buyer's perpesctive?

Another friend in CT owned an upscale home on "the" Lake.  She sold it to a successful mortgage broker who sued her after the sale because she was unable to improve the property to her liking because of the location of the septic system.  High profile attorneys went at it and my friend, the Seller, had to give back the money after the sale.

Posted by Eileen Burns, Real Estate Broker Ft Lauderdale/Miami/PalmBeach (Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach) about 1 year ago

Thanks George, this is interesting.  While the majority of homes in Ventura County are not on Septic, there are enough in the rural areas that require us to know this.

Posted by Kathy Stoltman, Ventura County Real Estate Consultant 805-746-1793 (Rockwood Realty) about 1 year ago

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