Imagine buying your first house, then learning just days later, it’s not the home you thought it was. A Fair Oaks woman called Kurtis Ming when she learned her house isn’t attached to the public sewer.
Laura Mentessi learned her house uses a septic system. It works for now, but she says she would have never bought the house had she known about it before.
“I bought a house that I don’t want,” says Laura.
When Laura bought a foreclosed Fair Oaks home last year, she thought it was the perfect fit for her and her boyfriend, Zak. But a couple days after closing, her neighbor told her the house has a septic tank.
“He asked me if I had any problems, if I had any problems with the septic system. And I was shocked,” Laura recalls.
She was shocked because the listing for her home says “sewer: in & connected.” Starting with the pipes in their basement, Laura and Zak walked straight out into the yard and started digging. About a foot underneath the surface, they found the septic tank.
We obtained the past listing of Laura’s house from 2004, which clearly states the home uses a septic system.
“How do you make an error like that?” Laura asks.
Tom Pool with the California Department of Real Estate says agents listing foreclosures only have to tell you what they know about the property. But they can’t make assumptions, like whether it’s connected to a public sewer.
“If they make an affirmative statement about a property, they have an obligation to make sure the information they are providing is accurate,” says Pool.
If this had been a traditional sale, the previous homeowners would have had to disclose the home was connected to a septic tank.
Laura did get a home inspection prior to closing the deal, but a standard home inspection does not cover sewer connections or septic tanks. There are other, more invasive inspections potential home buyers can get before buying a home, including one to check the sewer lines or septic tank.
And remember the old listing we found showing her home had a septic tank? It wasn’t hard for us to find. Couldn’t the selling agent or Laura’s agent have easily found this information too?
“There’s no obligation under the law to do that. But again, going to best practices, why reinvent the wheel?” says Pool.
“It just feels like a rotten deal,” says Laura.
She says it’ll cost about $30,000 to get hooked up to the public sewer system. The listing agent, Lyon Real Estate offered up $7,500 if the selling agent, Century 21 Select would match it.
But after we got in touch with both agencies, Lyon made a new offer. Laura can’t tell us what it is, only saying she’s satisfied.
Century 21 Select told us it wasn’t their agent’s fault, so at this point in time, there’s no offer coming from them.
Laura’s anxious to get connected to the sewer and move on.
“It’s still my little bungalow,” she says, “It just feels like home.”