How to Sell a House With a Failed Septic System

Failed Septic System

Your septic system ensures that the water entering your home is sanitary, so if yours has failed, you have a nasty mess on your hands that most buyers won’t want to take on. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to sell a house with a failed septic system, and it’s perfectly legal to do so in most cases, provided that you fully disclose the issue.

Its role is indispensable. It treats all wastewater from everyday household plumbing activities. This comprehensive system ensures that you don’t contribute to contaminating the local water supply with untreated sewage.

This blog post will dive into the nuances of navigating such a situation, exploring the options, challenges, and potential solutions when dealing with a property burdened by a failing septic system.

What is a Septic System?

Septic systems are an effective and efficient way to manage wastewater and sewage, and they’re especially beneficial for areas with limited access to a municipal sewage system. There are different types of septic systems, but at its core, a septic system consists of a septic tank and a drainage field, which are connected by a system of pipes.

The septic tank holds the wastewater and sewage, settling the solids to the bottom. The wastewater is then pushed out into the drainage field, where it’s absorbed into the soil. A failed septic system can be a big problem, leading to health and environmental hazards. It’s important to maintain a septic system to ensure its proper functioning.

Can I Sell My House With a Failed Septic System?

You can sell a home with a failed septic system unless local law prohibits it. When your septic tank fails, it often results in slow flushing toilets, gurgling sounds, clogging due to a build-up of solids, standing water, and an unpleasant odor, all of which can be off-putting to potential buyers.

In the worst-case scenario, a failed septic system can lead to wastewater backup into your home, which can cause significant damage and pose health risks.

It’s important to note that most home buyers and mortgage companies will require a septic system inspection during the home inspection process. A failed inspection can lead to delays, lower offers, or even sale cancellations.

Buyers, especially those not used to rural areas with common septic systems, might be hesitant to take on a property with a major issue like a failed septic tank. Local laws may even require the homeowner to repair or replace the failed septic system before selling the property.

The estimated cost for repairing or replacing a septic system can vary greatly, potentially reaching tens of thousands of dollars, which could impact your sale price and the overall value of your property.

What Causes a Septic System to Fail?

There are many reasons why a septic system can fail. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • Too much water enters the septic tank. This could be from heavy rainfall or too much water in your home.
  • A clog in the septic tank or drain field. This could be from things like grease, hair, or toilet paper.
  • Tree roots grow into the septic tank or drain field.
  • A broken pipe or sewer line

Recognizing Signs of Septic System Failure

Be alert if you smell foul odors or see spongy grass near your septic area. These could be signs that your septic system is failing. Other clues include water pooling or muddy soil around the septic tank. You might also notice that your sinks and toilets back up often.

These signs point to problems below the surface. Your septic system treats home wastewater and has key parts like a tank and a drain field. When parts fail, untreated water can’t filter through the soil correctly. This is bad for your home and the environment.

If you spot any of these issues, checking the system is vital. A professional can tell you if you can fix it or need a new system. Fixes might include pumping the septic tank or mending a part. But sometimes, the whole system needs replacing, which costs more. Don’t wait if you think there’s a problem. Catching signs early can save you money and trouble, especially if you plan to sell your home.

How to Sell a House with a Failed Septic System

Selling a house with a failed septic system might seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this process.

Understand Your Local Laws

First, familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding septic systems. Some areas require that you disclose any known issues with your septic system to potential buyers, and others might mandate a working septic system for property transfer. Be sure to comply with these laws to avoid legal troubles.

Get a Septic System Inspection

Hire a professional home inspector to check your septic system. This will provide an objective assessment of the issue and an estimated cost for repair or replacement and help you decide the best course of action.

Consult a Realtor

A licensed real estate agent will help you understand the potential impact of a failed septic system on your home’s market value. They can also advise you on whether it would be more beneficial to repair the system before selling or reduce the asking price to account for its failure.

Disclose the Issue

If you sell your house as-is, disclose the septic system’s failure to potential buyers. This honesty will build trust and can prevent potential legal disputes in the future.

Consider a Cash Offer

Companies like HR Property Doctor often purchase properties as-is, meaning they take on the responsibility of major repairs. This option could be a fast and hassle-free way to sell your property without worrying about the septic system.

Prepare for Negotiations

Be prepared for tough negotiations if you’re selling to a regular home buyer. Home buyers may request a lower price to account for the cost of repairing the septic system, or they might ask you to fix the system before closing the sale.

Create an Escrow Account 

If you agree to repair the septic system after the sale, an escrow account can be set up to hold the funds needed for the repairs. This assures the buyer that the repair work will be done.

Finalize the Sale

If all goes well, you’ll finalize the sale by repairing the septic system, selling the property as-is, and adjusting the price accordingly.

Options for selling a house with a failed septic system

When faced with a failed septic system in your house, one option is to sell it “as is.” You sell the property without repairing or addressing the septic system failure.

Repair or replace the septic system

When achieving your home’s highest possible sale price, repairing or replacing your septic system will likely be your best option. However, you’ll need a decent chunk of change to be able to accomplish this. Septic tanks cost an average of $6,278 for the tank itself and installation, but this number can vary based on your home’s size and location.

And the cost can go upto $15,000. It’s also possible you could connect your home to a sewer line in your area, but this also comes at a cost. You could be on the hook for $500 to $20,000 in fees from your city and an average of $1,500 in installation costs. 

However, remember that the Internal Revenue Service will consider a new septic or sewer system a capital improvement, so you can add those charges to increase your cost basis. That means you may pay less in taxes on the profits from the sale.

While you can usually complete a repair or replacement in a matter of days or weeks, it’ll require some time, energy, and money. On the bright side, a new septic or sewer system will open up the pool of potential buyers considerably, and you should be able to get a fair offer price for your home.

List on the market in ‘as-is’ condition

If you can’t afford to prepare your home for sale, you can list it on the market in its current condition. Some buyers may see this as an opportunity to get a good deal, but most want renovated homes. 

Remember that most lenders won’t provide a mortgage for a house with a failed septic system, so you’ll most likely be working with a cash buyer. Furthermore, you’ll still pay real estate commission fees and closing costs. You can avoid spending money preparing your home for sale if you sell it off-market.

Sell your home off-market

If you don’t have the money to replace your septic system and want to move quickly without the stress of a traditional real estate transaction, selling your house off-market will likely be your best bet. You have a few options if you go this route:

  • Sell to an investor if you have an interested buyer
  • Sell to a fix-and-flipper and accept a low offer price
  • Request an offer from an investor on Sundae’s Marketplace.


Selling a house with a failed septic system may initially seem like a formidable challenge, but it’s not impossible. You have options, from repairing or replacing the system to selling your home as-is. At HR Property Doctor, we buy houses and look forward to working with you.

Whether you have Failed Septic System to a house, have only suffered minor losses, or are somewhere between these two extremes, selling your house to us for cash is an excellent option that helps take the burden off you – after the Failed Septic System.

We will buy your Failed Septic System in Virginia Beach without hassling you to make a single repair. Contact HR Property Doctor today if you’d like a fair, no-obligation deal on your home with Failed Septic System or any other issues.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a reputable local house-buying professional, also a real estate agent (Virginia). Count on his nearly fifteen (15) years of expertise in being part of resolving any issues that may threaten transactions, being accessible, and answering questions, as well as remaining transparent throughout closing transactions. One of Paul's Favorite Quotes: "To Give Anything Less Than Your Best Is To Sacrifice the Gift."

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