Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Unfortunate announcement

We're not buying the house. It turns out that it has an underground oil tank. It's still in use and the seller says it's never given her any trouble, so she sees no reason to take it out of the ground. Which is great.

Hmm. Okay. But that's the thing about contamination - you don't know about it until you have to call in the EPA. Seriously, unless a person is constantly monitoring their oil consumption and tank, they would have no idea - NO IDEA - if they had a little leak.

My research indicates that it's $1,500-$2,500 to take a tank out of the ground if it's not leaking. Certainly not pocket change, but doable over time, sure. But here's the rub: if it's leaking, it's $50,000-$100,000 to abate.

Wanna know how to test it? You dig it up and test all the dirt around it. It costs $1,500-ish. The seller says I'm welcome to test it, but that she's not doing anything about it.

So to sum up: I'd have to spend $1,500 to test the tank - in addition to all the other inspections, etc. - to figure out if I want to buy a property, and if it turns out there's contamination, I'm out a whole bunch of money because I'm not buying it.

According to a source, if you're going to dig it up to test it, you may as well take it out of the ground and get rid of it, since it's only a little bit more to do so.

Argh. Whatever.

My lawyer called me with the news just before lunchtime. At lunch, B, D and I had a frank talk about it. D got her Rumsfeld on in earnest and said something to the effect of, "When you buy a house, there are already a number of unknown unknowns. Why would you walk into something with such a giant known unknown?"

She's right! I had to cry a little bit, right there in the cafeteria.

I've taken her advice and the advice of a number of other people who have been giving it to me (solicited and unsolicited). I'm walking away.

I can't lie. I'm sad. But what can a person do? Something else will come along.

(Aside: my lawyer told me that the seller's lawyer told her that this is the second sale they've lost because of the underground oil tank.)

(Aside: my father had a pal who had a leaking underground oil tank. You know when he found out? When his neighbor found fuel oil in his yard. It's a silent contaminent. They had to take all the dirt out of his yard and his neighbors yard to abate it. Back then, home owner's insurance would cover that kind of thing. Now you have to have a separate policy just for the tank.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is really too bad.

I had an offer on a house that it turned out needed a new roof. After a lot of crying and hollering I took away my offer. A few weeks later, the perfect house for me came on the market and I snatched it up.

So you see, it wasn't meant to be for the underground oil tank house, but the perfect one is on the horizon.

April 2, 2008 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Myszkowski said...

Of course I know that the right thing is coming. Even my lawyer said, "If you were looking for a sign..." And I WAS looking for a sign. Even so, I'm a little sad. I'm done crying about it though. Onward and upward!

April 2, 2008 at 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is bad news. But you got really, really good advice. You are lucky to have such good advice givers. That's more important than some house, IMHO.


April 2, 2008 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger debl said...

You obviously did the right thing. The seller is crazy for not spending the $1500 to get it tested. I am sure she'll lose more than that on the price (unless, of course, she knows already that it's leaking...). Ugh, what a mess! Anyway. Good luck finding your dream house!

April 2, 2008 at 6:29 PM  

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