Can I Sell My House with a Failed Septic System In SF Bay Area

The time has come to sell your house…

Maybe you’re thinking of moving to a larger place for your growing family, or maybe it’s a job that’s taking you elsewhere. Either way, once you’ve decided to sell your home, the first step is to get a home inspection.

You can do it yourself or hire pros to make sure everything’s working fine. If the inspector doesn’t find any issues, that’s great news for you. Your home gets a clean bill of health, which makes it more appealing to potential buyers.

Can I Sell My House with a Failed Septic System in SF Bay Area

But usually, things aren’t that simple.

A home inspection might uncover various problems, and one of the worst could be a faulty septic system. Dealing with a failed septic system is not just a hassle but also a costly one.

So, what if your septic system fails inspection?

It’s not just a minor flaw that some buyers might overlook. It affects you in three big ways: it reduces the number of interested buyers, drops the selling price significantly, and makes it harder to find a buyer quickly.

Depending on local regulations, it could even be a code violation, meaning you can’t sell until you fix it to meet the standards.

Unfortunately, fixing a faulty septic system can be expensive. Plus, it takes time and effort, which not everyone can afford.

In this article, we will explore the ways how you could go about selling a house with a failed septic system.

A septic system is an underground wastewater treatment structure consisting of a septic tank and a leach field. It is common in rural areas where the local municipality is yet to have a public sewer system.

In a properly working septic system, the water from your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry goes into the septic tank. This tank, typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene, is buried underground.

What is a Septic System in SF Bay Area

Its job is to separate solid waste and floatable materials before releasing the treated liquid (effluent) into the drain field. The drain field, also known as the leach field, is a shallow pit covered with soil where the effluent undergoes further treatment, naturally eliminating harmful bacteria, before entering the groundwater.

A property with a malfunctioning septic system not only endangers the health and hygiene of the residents but also presents a significant environmental hazard to the neighborhood. A faulty septic tank, for example, may discharge untreated liquid waste into the groundwater, leading to contamination and the proliferation of disease-causing bacteria.

Naturally, it’s essential to avoid such issues, so be vigilant for these warning signs before your septic system experiences complete failure:

This is usually the first sign that your septic system may be compromised. It may take several flushes or lots of water before you are able to drain the standing water.

Horrible smells wafting from the area around your septic tank may mean that its structure is compromised. You may want to have it looked at before the problem gets progressively worse.

Not all greens are good. It is possible that the beautiful and lush greenery growing where it didn’t before is using your failed septic system as a water and fertilizer source.

Puddles in the yard on sunny days might signal a septic system failure. Keep an ear out for gurgling sounds in your plumbing, a wet basement, or sewage backing up indoors.


Knowing the cause would help you be proactive in dealing with possible septic system problems. Usually, these problems are caused by:

The leading cause of a failed septic system is the inability or unwillingness to perform routine maintenance.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, it’s essential to schedule septic tank pumping every three to five years to prevent sludge buildup, which can lead to system blockages. This maintenance service is relatively inexpensive, typically costing a few hundred dollars, yet it can save you significant trouble down the road.

Your property may be situated in an area known for its expansive soils. These soils contract when dry and expand when wet, leading to cracks in your septic tank. Additionally, floods and hurricanes can exacerbate the issue by inundating your aging or damaged septic tank with groundwater, resulting in overflow or sewage backup in your residence.

Parking on top of the septic system can cause major damage to tanks and their drain field. Most septic tanks are not designed to take on the weight of a vehicle or heavy machinery.

Utility and Landscaping Works

Properly locating and marking electric lines, water lines, and septic systems prior to doing any yard work or renovation can prevent workmen from accidentally damaging pipes.

Utility and Landscaping Works in SF Bay Area

Items like tampons, pads, and wipes, though labeled as ‘flushable,’ can lead to septic tank clogs and system failures due to non-biodegradable content. Disposal in the trash is advisable to avoid costly repairs.

It may not be apparent but the trees in your yard can have a devastating impact on your septic tank. Their roots could penetrate the concrete, causing leaks and necessitating septic repairs. To avoid this, plan your landscaping with the septic systems in mind.

Occasionally, the septic system isn’t set up right, stopping proper drainage or, worse, leading to sewage backing up into the property.

Enlisting a trustworthy plumbing firm with extensive experience could avert these issues in the future.


YES, you’d be able to sell a house with a failed septic system just fine.

The question is how do you proceed?

There are three routes you could take: Repair and/or replace the failed septic system prior to the sale; sell as is the traditional way or sell as is off the market to a real estate investor.

What is a Septic System in SF Bay Area

If you want to ensure you get the top dollar for your property and avoid worries like, ‘Can I sell my house with a bad septic system?’, it’s wise to address septic issues promptly.

Start by scheduling a septic inspection. Even if you’re not planning to sell immediately, regular inspections, as recommended by InterNACHI, help maintain property value.

A professional inspection provides clarity on your septic system’s condition and necessary repairs. Armed with this information, you can explore reliable plumbing services and assess repair expenses for your faulty septic system.

To give you an idea, here’s an estimated cost to rehabilitate your failed system:

How much you’d have to invest in repairing a house with a faulty septic system varies based on factors like home size, soil type, property location (costs differ by state), extent of damage, pipe material, and local regulations.

Depending on local regulations, you may need to update your current plumbing lines or even the entire septic system to ensure it meets code requirements.

Selling a house with a functional septic system is easier and fetches a higher price compared to unresolved issues. It attracts more potential buyers, especially since the buyer’s lender won’t hesitate to approve their mortgage knowing the septic system issue has been resolved.

If you want to save time and money, you can sell your home as-is through a traditional listing with a realtor. Some buyers might see this as a great deal, but many, especially first-time buyers, prefer move-in ready homes.

Keep in mind that most lenders won’t approve a loan for a home with a faulty septic system. Your realtor may need to find a cash buyer in this case.

Cash buyers typically offer less than market value to account for the cost of fixing the septic system. You’ll also have to cover realtor fees and closing costs, reducing your profit from the sale.

Luckily, there’s another option available to you, which is to…

Option #3: Sell the house as is to a real estate investor

There are two kinds of real estate investors: those who flip houses, fix everything, even a failed septic system, then sell for profit, and those who renovate the property and rent it out later.

This kind of buyer isn’t afraid of problematic properties–in fact, they actively look for them–because they have a team ready to handle all the necessary work to restore the property.

If you want to sell quickly, you can sell as-is to a cash buyer. This way, you avoid upfront costs for septic repairs and the hassle of finding a reliable contractor and overseeing their work.

Sell the house as is to a real estate investor in SF Bay Area

However, the convenience of quickly offloading a problematic property comes at a cost: you must compensate the buyer for the needed work.

But then, the troublesome property is no longer your concern, saving you time waiting for the sale to recover your expenses. Time is valuable, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.


Honesty is the best policy when doing business. It’s essential to be upfront about any sewer issues when selling a property, not just for ethical reasons but also to build trust with potential buyers. Failing to disclose such problems could lead to legal trouble. Once disclosed, you can discuss with the buyer how to address the septic system issue.

Even if you’re selling your property in its current condition, there are options to consider. You can provide the inspection findings to the potential buyer so they to deal with any septic system concerns.

Alternatively, you can gather estimates from plumbing professionals to offer to the buyer if you’re not planning to handle the fixes personally.

For a house that is not move-in ready, you have to psychologically prepare to give a discount on the sales price. Price in the failed system to make it palatable for interested buyers.


A failed septic system may be a significant drawback in selling a house, but we have shown you that it is not impossible. There are more options than just retail buyers.

Interested in pursuing cash offers on your house with a septic system failure?

You could sell your house here at We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area! You don’t have to worry about getting a septic system inspection or installing new plumbing lines. You don’t even have to bother with outdoor landscaping!

We buy houses in absolutely any condition and we cover all closing costs!

We’ll give you a free, fair cash offer, with no obligation whatsoever! We connect you with a local cash buyer who can offer more because they know your area better than national real estate investors.

Fill out the form below with your email and property address, so we can get started! If you have any questions, you can reach us at (408) 557-7554, and we’d love to talk to you.


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The Easiest Way To Sell Your House Fast In SF Bay Area

You’re in the driver’s seat when you accept our cash offer for your house. We make the process simple, fast, and easy to follow when working with us. You have no obligation to accept our cash offer for your home when contacting us for a fair cash offer for your home. No matter the reason you want to sell your house, we want to buy your home as is. Remember that you get many benefits that include no real estate agent commissions, no cleaning, no improvements, and no stress. Our cash offer for your as-is house assures you of fast cash payment at closing with a reputable Title company. You can count on our company to give you a fair cash offer for your home! If you’re still thinking, “I need to sell my house fast”, calling us could be your best decision all day. 🙂

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Gagan Saini

Author: Saini

My name is Saini, and I founded the We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area team with years of experience in the real estate industry. I have assisted numerous sellers in selling their homes quickly, “AS-IS”, and for a fair price.

He’s been featured in multiple publications including Yahoo Finance, GoBankingRates, LegalZoom, The Mortgage Report, Apartment Therapy, US News and World Report, and SuperMoney among others.

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