Ask Questions, Ask Questions, Ask Questions
One of the hats that a real estate agent wears is the hat of a reporter. We are conditioned to ask questions and keep asking them until we have exhausted all options. We head straight to the source to find the truth. By doing that, we can directly ask the source every question we have and find out what options are available.
An example of this is a buyer I had who wanted to put an offer on a home in Portland, Or. Everything about the home fit my buyers wants and needs: location, size, condition, color, space, etc. The only thing I noticed was that the home was not on a sewer line; it had a cesspool. For those of you who do not know what a cesspool is, it’s an underground container for the temporary storage of liquid waste and sewage. Believe it or not, many homes today still have cesspools.
I told my buyer that I was going to look into the cesspool before he put in an offer. I wanted him to be clear on what he was going to get himself into. The listing agent provided me with some figures on how much it would cost to hook up to the city’s sewer if my buyer wanted to; the seller would even pay half of the cost. This might be a good deal, but I wanted to find out more on the regulations and costs associated with cesspools and sewer lines.
I called a cesspool company who answered all of my questions:
How often does a cesspool have to be pumped and inspected?
How much does that cost? How much is it to treat or replace?
What is the useful life of a cesspool, etc?
I then called the city to confirm how much it would cost my buyer to hook up to the sewer line and/or even if my buyer had to. The city confirmed that my buyer did not have to hook up to the sewer line as long as the cesspool was working properly, which it was, but if the time came where the cesspool had to be replaced, my buyer would not be able to. By law, my buyer would have to hook up to the sewer line.
The cost for hooking up to the sewer line was around ~$14,000. The city also told me there was a lien on the home for assessing the costs to put in sewer lines, which added another ~$9,000. This had not been disclosed to my buyer nor I.
With new and previously undisclosed information, I shared the news with my buyer. His options were the following:
He could negotiate on the costs to put in a sewer line and on the lien
He could negotiate on the lien and continue using the cesspool but risk the possibility of paying in full to hook up to the sewer line in the future
He could not make an offer and look for another home.
He decided he did not want to pay upfront or later to hook up to the sewer line. We continued looking and in the end, I found him an even better home with a better deal.
When in doubt, ask questions. I will revert back to my inner toddler curiosity and ask “why” over and over again until I am satisfied.
Call us if you want an agent to work this hard for you! 503-502-3330!