Roof, Plumbing and Septic (Oh My!)

These days, you must pay attention to three big potential gotchas with buying and selling homes in South Florida. As a seller, these are the items most likely to trip you up when a buyer goes to get financing. For the buyer, these items will either become an issue during inspection or later when you go to try to insure the property.


Since we are approximately 20 years since Hurricane Andrew, many of those roofs are approaching the end of their usable life. While it may not be leaking now, if you've been crossing your fingers seeing if you can sell before the inevitable, you may be fooling yourself.

When an inspection company comes, they will estimate useable life. Unless it is more than 4 years, you may be in for a huge financing and no insurance options for your buyer.

The best thing you can do is find a reputable roofer before you list the home and ask them for an inspection. They'll be looking for business. You'll be looking to get their report for other reasons.


Although problematic galvanized pipes and copper can also be a possible hurdle to a real estate closing, the bigger potential problem these days is cast-iron sanitary (waste) lines. Certain manufactured cast-iron has proven to react poorly to the rich limestone of South Florida and essentially rusts away.

The reason why this is such a problem is that under most situations, the only solution is to cut through your home's foundation (slab) to replace the pipes with PVC. This is not inexpensive. Therefore, many insurance companies are starting to balk at writing new policies for homes with pipes more than 25 years old.

As a seller, the only thing you can do to test for this is to call a plumber who specializes in cast-iron and have him camera your system to determine if you have a problem. HOWEVER, here's the rub.  Sellers may not want to do this because once they know there is a problem, they must disclose this to potential buyers. Consult your Realtor® on how to handle this...


...which leads us to septic systems. Although most inspections do not thoroughly check the septic system, some insurance companies will.  Just like roofs and cast-iron pipes, septic systems have a finite life and many are pushing the limits right now.

This is dirty business and if both the septic tank and drain-field fail, you can be staring at a $15,000 bill. It's no wonder that if the buyer's inspector or insurance company find a problem, you will likely be back at the negotiation table to make it to closing.

I hope I've educated you a bit and not worried you too much!