We all work in areas where there are different laws governing lots of different aspects to a home purchase and sale. In the Puget Sound area we have several homes that are on septic systems. In Kitsap County there are over 60,000 on-site sewage systems. For years and years these systems were pumped or not pumped, inspected or not inspected all depending on the real estate agents involved in the transaction and the documents they used.
Then along came the State of Washington and State Health rules (Chapter 246-272A WAC) requiring the local health jurisdiction to ensure that all owners of onsite sewage systems have their system inspected and evaluated on a regular basis, and prescribe an inspection at the time of property transfer as one of the
options to attain these inspections.
I totally agree that something had to be done with the septic inspection process. The days of permit, install and done are over. There must be some checks and procedures to protect all.
In Washington each county takes on the responsibility of tracking a process.
In Kitsap County where I work the process is fairly easy. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service has procedures spelled out in document form that take the guess work out of what we need to do in order to comply with the state law.
We have a general septic addendum that outlines what type of OSS (on-site sewage system) the property is serviced by, that the seller represents that, to the best of their knowledge, the OSS is in working order and doesn’t violate any regulations or have any material defects.
This document supersedes any provisions in the purchase and sale agreement except for the provisions of a county specific septic addendum.
Here is where local area Brokers seem to have a learning curve. In Kitsap County the Kitsap County Board of Health Ordinance 2008-01 Section 13.D sets out in more detail the process that must be completed prior to the close of a home sale transaction.
It is a pretty straight forward form and details what the seller must do.
1. Specify type of system
2. Deliver Evaluation Report (from the Health Officer of Kitsap County Health District)
3. Deliver to Buyer maintenance records, if available.
If the seller has no evaluation report listed in item 2 they must complete an application, inspection and evaluation with the Health Department. The process is very simple and spelled out in simple terms on the addendum and on the Kitsap County Health Department site.
Why this process is so difficult for Brokers to understand I just don’t get. I have had to “argue” with Brokers what the process is over the last few transactions. This is a process that really should be done at the time the home is listed for sale. Why we don’t just do this all up front is in my mind a disservice to our sellers. I know the reason is probably one of funds. Yes, it costs to process this form with the county. Yes, it costs money to pump the tank. That is why this process is so hard for some Brokers to understand. They don’t know how to get their sellers to spend money prior to close.
I just want other Broker’s to understand the law and conform to it. I am tired of having to educate other Brokers about the process when I write a purchase and sale agreement. It is our responsibility to understand these documents and council our sellers.
Kitsap County has some great information available on their web site. I have had to on more than one occasion send these links to other Brokers in the area to make my point.
Mike Rowe learns how to clean a septic tank.