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  • Writer's pictureKaren Packard

Why It Is Important to do Your Title V Before Listing Your Home For Sale

In Sterling and Princeton, we do not have town sewer. With private septic systems we are required by Mass law to do a Title V test when selling a property.

While it is not required by law for the seller to pay for this test, it is widely expected. In rare cases, for example foreclosed or distressed properties the buyer may be responsible for the title v test. But for the most part, sellers are expected to provide a passing title v certificate to the buyer before the closing. In order for the buyer to be approved for a mortgage, most banks will require this paperwork to complete the approval process and commit to the loan for the property.

Having a working septic system is important to make sure there are no pathogens or bacteria endangering drinking water or wildlife. So, MA requires that the system is tested before selling a home to make sure it is working properly. This test is called a Title V.

Getting a Title V test done in Sterling and Princeton before listing your home is ideal rather than waiting until you have the property listed and a buyer in place. Some of my clients like to wait until the buyer is under contract before scheduling to save money in case the property does not sell and the homeowner takes the house off the market. While I can understand saving money is important, there is a down side to waiting to test.

If a septic system needs a repair, that can delay the process of closing. The contractor would need to be hired, materials ordered, repair completed and paperwork filed with the board of health as well as paperwork sent to the lender for underwriting approval prior to closing. This process can take time and sometimes can cause a delay in the closing dates. That could cause a problem if the buyer is on a tight timeline to either sell their existing property, enroll kids in school, or start a new job.

The worst-case scenario is that the entire system fails the Title V test. This will most likely delay the plans in place. When a system fails, there needs to be a perc test completed, new engineering done to design a brand new system, board of health approval on the new design and installation. This process can take months. If the property is under contract with a buyer and the system fails, both parties need to amend the contract to accommodate a new timeline for closing. Sometimes the buyers cannot or will not wait and decide to purchase a different property. Then, you are coming back on the market and lost valuable momentum to your marketing.

There is also a little bit of repair that needs to be done after the test is complete. The company you hire will uncover the Distribution box as well as the tank to check the system. This may require digging up some lawn areas or planting beds to access the area needed. By doing this test ahead of the showings you will be able to fix any disturbed areas to make the yard look its best before buyers come onto your property.

The good news is that a Title V test is valid for 2 years. You can extend the Title V to 3 years by pumping it every year. So, if you are planning on selling your home soon, it is a good idea to get this done early and avoid delays or losing your buyer due to a problem with your system.

If you have any questions about Title V tests or who to call to schedule yours, please contact me at or 978-407-2568. I work with great, local companies that can complete this test for you and get you the paperwork needed to sell your property.

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