What to do if You Want To Sell a House with a Failed Septic System

What to do if You Want To Sell a House with a Failed Septic System

So, your septic tank is on the fritz, and you’re asking yourself, “Can I sell my house with a failed septic system?” You’ve already had nightmares about potential buyers walking away from your property due to this major problem. And those images of wastewater backing up into your home are enough to make you lose sleep. 

A failed septic system is a daunting problem for homeowners like you, especially when you want to make a quick sale. The septic tank and the drain field – called the “leach field” – are crucial in managing household wastewater. But when they fail, they can create an environmental hazard, potential health issues, and unpleasant living conditions that could repel home buyers.

While a septic system might fail for numerous reasons, at the end of the day, you just want to hand over the keys and move on without the hassle. And that’s what we’re here to help you with. This article will guide you through the steps to take if you’re looking to sell a house with a failed septic system. 

From understanding the problem to knowing your options, we’ll give you the tools to navigate this difficult situation confidently. So, sit tight as we flush away your worries about that failed system and dive into the solutions. 

Can I Sell My House With a Failed Septic System?

The straightforward answer to your question, “Can I sell my house with a failed septic system?” is, ‘Yes, you can.” However, it comes with certain caveats that you should be aware of. Selling a home with a problematic septic tank isn’t straightforward like selling a fully functional sewer system. 

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.

But don’t let this information discourage you. There are still ways to sell a house fast in New York, even with a troublesome septic system. It’s all about understanding your options and strategizing your sale accordingly. 

Cash home buyers in NYC, such as real estate investors or companies like “we buy houses in Brooklyn,” often buy properties as-is, including those with a bad septic system. But before you make any decision, it’s crucial to understand the ins and outs of septic systems and how their failures can impact a property sale.

Selling a House With a Failed Septic System: What Are the Laws?

Knowing the local laws and regulations governing such sales is essential before deciding what to do with your house with a failed septic system. This can vary widely, but some general principles usually apply.

Most states have health department regulations that necessitate the disclosure of any known issues with a property, including the status of the septic system. If your septic system has failed, you must legally inform potential buyers of this issue. Transparency is key in real estate transactions, and the principle of ‘buyer beware’ doesn’t absolve sellers from the responsibility of full disclosure.

In some areas, the law may require repairing or replacing a failed septic system before the property can be transferred to a new owner. This might involve a thorough septic system inspection by a licensed professional. If your system isn’t functioning properly, repairs or replacement could be necessary, and the costs can be substantial.

In most cases, local laws prohibit the transfer of property with a failing septic system to protect groundwater sources from contamination. That said, some exceptions can be made. For instance, it might be possible if the property is being transferred to a cash buyer who agrees to fix the issue post-sale.

It is important to note that septic tanks are typically mandatory if your house does not have access to the public sewer. If your area recently got connected to the sewer line or will do so before you sell your house, repairing the septic system failure may not be necessary. 

Remember, the laws surrounding the sale of a home with a failed septic system can be complex and vary by location, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable real estate agent or attorney in your area. Understanding these laws is one of the most important home repairs considerations when dealing with a property with a failed septic system. 

Regardless, having a comprehensive selling-a-home inspection checklist can help ensure you’re not overlooking any other potential issues that could complicate the sale of your home.

Should You Replace the Failed Septic System Before Selling?

If your septic system has failed, one of the first questions that may come to your mind is whether to replace it before selling the house. The answer isn’t straightforward, as it depends on factors like local laws, market conditions, the cost of repair or replacement, and your willingness to deal with the hassle.

If local laws require a functioning septic system to transfer property, replacing or repairing your failed system becomes necessary. But even when it’s not mandated by law, a functional septic system could significantly increase your property’s market value, make it more appealing to prospective buyers, and speed up the sale process. 

On the flip side, septic system repairs or replacements can be costly. The average cost of a new septic system can be high, which does not account for the potential damage to landscaping during installation. So, you’ll need to consider if the increase in the sale price would cover these costs.

Since many lenders might also not approve loans for houses with a failed septic system, selling your house as-is to a cash buyer could be a good option. Cash home buyers in NYC often buy properties in their current condition, which means they’ll handle any necessary repairs, including a failed septic system. That way, you can sell a house fast in New York, avoid upfront repair costs, and leave the headache of fixing the septic system to someone else.

So, deciding to replace or not replace a failed septic system before selling your home comes down to a balance of costs, potential returns, and personal circumstances. It’s best to discuss this with your realtor or real estate investor, who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Should You Replace the Failed Septic System Before Selling?

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Consider a Cash Offer: Companies like we buy houses in Brooklyn or Cash Home buyers in NYC 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.
  1. Prepare for Negotiations: If you’re selling to a regular home buyer, be prepared for tough negotiations. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Finalize the Sale: If all goes well, you’ll finalize the sale by repairing the septic system or selling the property as-is and adjusting the price accordingly.

Remember, selling a house with a failed septic system can be challenging but not impossible. And the most important home repairs, including the septic system, can be handled with the right strategy, support, and patience.


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. 

Cash buyers, like Cash home buyers in NYC, are also a viable option as they purchase properties in their current condition, simplifying the process for you. Be prepared for negotiations around your sale price, considering the replacement or repair costs. An escrow account can provide security for both parties if you address the septic system issues post-sale.

In conclusion, if you ask, “Can I sell my house with a failed septic system?” remember that with the proper knowledge, support, and strategy, the answer is a resounding yes. Happy selling!