You’ve been searching for months and finally found a fantastic home on 2 acres with 5 bedrooms and 3 baths and have absolutely fallen in love with it. What’s next? A “good” Realtor will have already pulled the septic permit to see if it’s permitted for 5 bedrooms and low and behold it’s not! You are OK with it being permitted for 2 bedrooms because after all it’s just you and your wife and one child and you’re not really going to use all 5 bedrooms. A “good” Realtor will point out “what about resale”? Hummm…, I’ll let the next buyer worry about that you say to her. Well that won’t fly anymore – not in Boulder Colorado. Effective September 1, 2008, Boulder Colorado enacted a new real estate property transfer regulation that requires all property homeowners to have adequately operating and approved septic systems at the time of sale or purchase of a new home. This means that if the seller is advertising 5 bedrooms, the septic better be permitted for 5 bedrooms! They did this after much investigation and of concern for outdated septic fields. Many other communities around the United States have also enacted similar septic property transfer regulations, including Jefferson County CO, Sedgewick County KS, Washtenaw County MI, State of Arizona, State of Minnesota, and State of New Mexico. By identifying any issues surrounding the septic system upfront they’ve tried to balance the need to ensure that waste water is handled appropriately with the financial burden that comes with it. A Boulder Colorado Septic Smart property transfer permit must NOW accompany all property transfers sales at the time of settlement. By putting this into effect new buyers will be insured that their septic system is working order and will work well into the future. Here’s how the plan works:
Sellers, here’s what you need to do:
1. Check to see if your septic permit is permitted and approved by the Boulder County Health Dept.
2. Contact a Boulder County approved inspector and have a septic inspection done and pumped if necessary. This will cost between$150-$350, not including the pumping.
3. If repairs are needed, apply for a repair permit.
4. If everything is ok, apply for the property transfer certificate.
5. If everything is in compliance, Boulder Co Health Department will issue the property transfer certificate which will be recorded upon sale of the home at settlement.
6. If everything is not in compliance, Boulder County will contact you and let you know that it has not been approved and what needs to be done.
If there is not enough time for the seller to remedy the septic issue prior to settlement, Boulder County will allow an escrow to be done at settlement, based on one and a half times the estimate, and the work to be completed by either the buyer or seller (that will be negotiated in the sales contract) within the next year. There is a specific Boulder County Health Department form that needs to be signed by all parties at the time of settlement. Either the settlement company, or maybe the lender, will hold the septic escrow and that needs to be worked out prior to settlement, as there maybe some issue that arise as to WHO will hold the escrow monies.
Buyers, you have a part in this too:
1. Have your Realtor check the permit at the Boulder County Health Dept. Make sure the permit is for the actual numbers of bedrooms on record and that it has a “date of final approval” on it. Also, your Realtor should check to see that the permit has the same numbers of bedrooms that MLS (mulitple list service) is advertising.
2. Have your Realtor get from the sellers any maintenance history, recent property transfer inspection report and certificate of operations valid within the last 4 years.
3. If the permit states “not approved”, follow up with your Realtor by asking the sellers what the plans are for repairs or if they are expecting the buyers to do the repairs. Remember, these need to be done within one year after settlement.
Even though this might seem like a huge burden to the seller at the time of sale, it will ultimatley benefit them as a buyer next time they purchase a home with a septic system. The antiquated septic systems will be a thing of the past, in the near future, for Boulder County Colorado ensuring that our waters stay uncontaminated and our real estate values strong.