Well Water Testing: A Must When Buying or Selling a Home

Well Water Testing: A Must When Buying or Selling a Home

When you’re buying or selling a home that’s supplied with well water, it’s essential to test your water before initiating the transaction. In some cases, it’s mandatory, depending on what companies or agencies are involved in the sale. If FHA, USDA or VA loans are involved, you’re going to have to test the water before the transaction will go through. Some banks have the same requirement.

ETR Laboratories has been working with real estate professionals, home inspectors and mortgage lenders for many years. We know just what they are looking for. We can walk homeowners through the process of choosing the right test, collecting the water sample and understanding your results so you can work seamlessly with these professionals. 

Why Mandated Tests Might Not Be Thorough Enough

Typically, banks and agencies are only looking for a limited number of substances in the water. They may only require testing for nitrates, nitrites, coliform bacteria and lead, for example. This limited test is not sufficient to determine if water is healthy enough for human consumption. 

A more thorough water test can ensure that there is no well contamination and that costly repairs are not necessary to bring the water quality up to an acceptable standard. 

It is advisable to determine if water is contaminated by any of these substances in addition to the minimal demands of financial institutions:

  • Fungi
  • Pesticides
  • Arsenic
  • Metals such as mercury, aluminum, cadmium, iron or lithium
  • Radon
  • Hardness sufficient to create deposits on the plumbing system 
  • Carcinogenic chemicals like trichloroethylene, benzene or naphthalene
  • Pesticides like DDT or chlordane

The Ultimate Water Test from ETR Laboratories looks for 249 of these substances for truly in-depth analysis. 

Benefits to Both Buyers and Sellers

A buyer may make an offer on a home and make that offer contingent on good results from a well water test. Of course, if the test shows that the well water quality is poor or that the well needs repair, they may back out of the sale or ask for a reduction of the home cost. If the well water passes the test, the buyer can be comfortable in their new home and happy with their purchase. 

A well water test in this situation protects the buyer from surprising costs after the sale closes. Once that sale closes, any problems with the water are totally up to the buyer to address. If poor water quality requires installation of a filter for correction, it can cost the homebuyer as much as $4,000. A water test costing a couple of hundred dollars completed before closing can save the buyer thousands. 

It’s smart for a seller to schedule their annual water test before putting their home on the market. That way, they know ahead of time if any repairs are needed. They can address any problems, retest the water and offer the test results to any interested prospects. A bank-mandated test may only test for five or six substances but if the seller gets a more complete test done, they won’t be hit with any surprises as the closing approaches. 

The home inspection process should include water testing as a matter of course. If it doesn’t, buyers or sellers should insist on this step being added. 

Homeowners: Don’t Wait Till the Last Minute

So that sellers can achieve snag-free home sales and avoid last minute haggling over price, they should perform this test in time to address any problems that result. Because detecting the cause of a particular type of contamination can turn into a job for a detective, the water test should be completed well before the house goes on the market. 

The well may need to be disinfected (requiring a second post-disinfection water test) or the well cap or casing may need repair. The source of contamination could turn out to be a leaking septic tank on the property next door, meaning that the neighbor must complete this repair. 

Talk to us at ETR Laboratories as soon as you make the decision to sell your home and we can help guide you through the process of ensuring you have an excellent report on your well water to offer buyers. For assistance, call us at (800) 344-9977