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What to do when your septic system fails

Brooksby Village brings in expert advice for home sellers

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July 6th, 2016
Daniel Ottenheimer (left), president of Mill River Consulting and Brooksby Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Phillips.

Daniel Ottenheimer (left), president of Mill River Consulting, recently spoke at Brooksby Village about the Title 5 septic system law in Massachusetts. Brooksby Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Phillips organized the presentation.

Decluttering? Check.

Home staging? Check.

Working with a professional real estate agent? Check.

There are a number of considerations when it comes to selling your home. For Massachusetts home owners who don’t have public sewer, there’s one important factor that can’t be overlooked.

The state’s Title 5 septic system law requires inspection of a home’s septic system by a licensed inspector prior to the sale of the property. The septic system must pass the inspection in order to close on the property. If a septic system fails the inspection, the homeowner is responsible for replacing the system, often at a cost of $30,000 or more.

Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., recently hosted an educational seminar about Title 5. Guest speaker Daniel Ottenheimer, president of Mill River Consulting, offered a comprehensive look at Title 5 legislation and what it means for home owners with a septic system.

For those who anticipate selling their home in the next year or two, Ottenheimer recommends scheduling the inspection sooner rather than later.

“Inspections are good for two years,” says Ottenheimer. “They’re good for three years if you have your tank pumped annually.”

Additionally, Ottenheimer says it’s not necessary to pump the tank immediately before an inspection, as the septic system must be operating normally for two weeks prior to the inspection.

‘Knowledge is power’

Laurie Phillips, personal moving consultant at Brooksby, organized the Title 5 seminar for the community’s priority list members, those who have expressed an interest in moving to Brooksby and put down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve their place in line for the apartment home of their choice.

“A number of our priority list members have lived in their home for several years,” says Phillips. “As they begin to consider selling their homes and moving to Brooksby, I want them to have the information they need to move forward.”

Phillips, a licensed real estate agent, attended a continuing education course about Title 5 and felt it was good information to pass along to Brooksby’s priority list members.

“Knowledge is power,” says Phillips. “When you understand the process of selling a home, it informs the preparations you make before you list your home.”

Phillips offers complimentary coordination of moving services, including referrals to preferred real estate agents, estate sale planners, and moving companies, for anyone moving to Brooksby.

“My goal is to help our future residents be purposeful in how they move forward,” says Phillips. “The education piece of our moving program involves giving prospective residents the knowledge and resources they need to make a successful move.”

Resolve septic issues before listing a home

Tina Endicott, a real estate agent based in North Reading, often works with clients moving to Brooksby. She attended the Title 5 seminar and offered her perspective, having been involved in numerous real estate transactions.

“The best thing to do before listing a home is to have a clean Title 5 inspection,” says Endicott. “Buyers often walk away from a failed septic system. It needs to be remedied before going to market.”

For those who find themselves having to replace a failed system, Massachusetts offers an income tax credit of $1,500 per year for four years to homeowners who have replaced the septic system in their primary residence. Homeowners can continue to claim the credit even if they sell the home during the four-year period.

“Knowing some of the potential roadblocks to a successful home sale helps homeowners plan accordingly,” says Phillips. “It’s important to get yourself in good hands and work with a team of professionals who can walk you through the process.”

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