Information for Realtors for real estate transactions with private water wells
In New England, 20-percent of all homes rely on private water wells for their household water needs. If you're a real estate agent, it's important to understand the idiosyncrasies of listings that include a private water well.
A conventional home on a municipal water system will have CCR reports available as part of the information you'll receive along with the listing. When dealing with homeowners who are selling a home with a private well, CCR reports will not be available. The EPA does not regulate private water wells. Many states and towns also do not require sampling of a private well after the initial testing upon installation. As a result, the responsibility for the quality and safety of the home's water supply falls to the owner of the property.
For potential buyers, this is a gray area. While the EPA recommends annual testing of water quality, it is not a legal requirement. Let's look at several key pieces of information you should compile when accepting a listing, or you should request from the seller's agent when acting on behalf of the buyer.
The Basics of Water Wells
When listing a home with a private well, it's important to gather several key pieces of information that should be available to be provided to potential buyers. These include the initial well report outlining the date of construction and the type of well that was built. There are three types of private drinking water wells. They are:
These are holes in the ground dug by shovel or backhoe and are typically cased with stones, brick, tile or other materials. Because dug wells are shallow – 10 to 30 feet deep – they have the highest risk of contamination.
Driven wells are hammered or hydraulically pushed into the ground and pul water from an aquifer. Driven wells are also generally shallow – 30 to 50 feet deep – and have a moderate to high risk of contamination from surface activities.
Drilled wells are deeper – 100 to 400 feet – and typically have metal or plastic pipe casings which protect the well water from contamination. Drilled wells are the most common and have the lowest risk of contamination, although no well is contamination free.
The initial well report will outline the type, depth, and materials used in the original well construction. Along with this report, you should also obtain the most recent water testing quality reports from the homeowner.
Proper well construction, continued maintenance, and testing are the keys to the safety and health of a home's water. In addition to reports provided by the homeowner, a local water-well contractor, licensing agency or local health department can also be sources of information about a particular well, or location.
Keeping Water Wells Safe
Water safety consists of consistent, safe practices. As a real estate agent, it's important to gather all of the information you possibly can. You should be aware of any possible sources of contamination like septic tanks, livestock yards, nearby farms, petroleum tanks and any other potential sources of contamination. Check with the local health department or environmental program for setback requirements to make sure the seller is in compliance.
As the listing agent for a property with a private well acquire all of the records possible, from the well installation, any repairs, along with recent pumping and water tests. As a buyers representative, it's important to have access to as much information as possible to ensure the safety of the well. Any potential buyers should include a water quality test as a part of the inspection process. Most lenders will require it, and it's a good practice.
One final thought. If the homeowner has a water treatment system in the home, this is valuable information for any potential buyers.Include any warranty and other information to include in the sales packet for the home.
Information is the key when listing a home with a private water well. Make sure to do your due diligence. It will make the sales process easier, and offer peace of mind to any potential buyers!