Posted by Jeff Wahl on 12/29/2021 to Real Estate Considerations
Like countless others before it, another real estate transaction has highlighted the importance of testing a rural water source before signing any offer to purchase property. In this case, the prospective buyer decided to request a water sample as a condition for the initial offer to be placed on a rural waterfront home and property. What separates this scenario from most real estate water tests is that it was conducted before the final offer was accepted by the seller and signed by both parties.
Throughout the course of more than 20 years of experience, it has become apparent that the majority of people are unaware of the requirement to have a water test completed as part of a rural purchase of a home, cottage or business located in a rural area.
It is common practice that the signed offer will include a clause within the Agreement of Purchase and Sale indicating that the seller must provide a Water Potability Certificate as part of the closing conditions.
Certificates are Required if Financing is Involved in the Transaction
Water Potability Certificates
These certificates are issued after submitting a water sample to a Public Health Unit or an Accredited Laboratory, assuming the desired results are achieved. The sampling is for the presence of the bacterial indicators of contamination, E. coli and total coliforms. The sample results must be zero for all bacterial indicators in order to issue the potability certificate.
In most real estate transactions, Public Health Units generally provide testing for the presence of the bacterial indicators of contamination in private drinking water. This includes privately owned water sources, such as drilled, dug or shore wells, or private drinking water from a cistern, holding tank or surface source. This does not apply to water that falls under municipal jurisdiction.
At the recommendation of their realtor, the buyer contacted Wahl Water to conduct water testing on a prospective purchase. This is not a common practice however with education, it is gaining popularity with prospective buyers who are concerned about water quality when purchasing a home.
The property featured a deep drilled well that provided a year round water supply to the house. As the potential buyer was concerned about the water quality prior to purchasing the home and the seller gave permission for a water sample to be taken for two bacterial indicators in accordance with certificate requirements. No additional testing for any other parameters were required during this sampling in order to meet the potability requirement of the certificate.
The test results were 0 CFU/100mL for E.coli and 18 CFU/100mL for Total Coliforms. The tested water sample was adverse for bacterial contamination. Both parties (buyer and seller) agreed to have the proper water treatment system installed to treat the coliform.
A resample was to be taken after the work was completed as a condition for the sale of the property and the cost for the work was negotiated as part of the offer to purchase. The transaction was completed without complication and new owners moved into the property.
Water Testing BEFORE PURCHASING is in all Parties' Best Interest!
Real Estate Water Purchasing Tips
- Ask your realtor to include the water quality testing prior to the offer to purchase.
- Use an independent 3rd party for testing who is not affiliated with sellers or realtors.
- Water sampling results take time to process and report. Start the process early.
- As the purchaser, you have the right to request water samples as part of the offer.
Water Treatment Dealers Can Often Assist With Water Sampling
Water should be given more consideration in rural real estate transactions. In this case, the buyer and seller were able to avoid delays in the sale and the complications from the adverse water sampling result. This is not always the case and treating the water is often an emergency in real estate sales. Realtors can benefit from adding the “water clause” as part of the prospective offer sheet and provide a valuable service to their clients. Home owners who are selling their property can have the water sampled prior to listing and, when done by an independent third party, can add value in the sale. This is especially relevant to validate the value of installed water treatment equipment in the home.
Real Estate Water Commentary
The complexity of water contamination in rural water sources should be a decisive factor in the purchase of a home. A proper water test is just as important as the home’s decor, structure, location and appeal. Conducting water sampling in advance provides peace of mind for all involved when purchasing a property.
Volume 5 - Issue 7 Wahl H2O - Water Awareness
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