When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

On the list of awkward first questions that Buyers’ Agents ask Listing Agents — “Are those abandoned oil tanks buried in the front yard?” — has to rank pretty high.

And responding, “the Seller doesn’t have any idea, they were there when they bought the house” doesn’t exactly help matters.

Even though the Minnesota Seller’s Disclosure only requires Sellers to answer questions to the best of their ability (vs. impose a duty to educate themselves), it’s highly unlikely that demurring on a potential environmental issue — especially a plainly visible one — will fly with prospective Buyers.

Preferred Strategy

The best strategy, of course, would be to have a licensed contractor remove the oil tanks before the home ever hit the market, and document that there were no leaks or other residual concerns.

Next best would be to have the oil tanks sealed — also by a licensed contractor.

Simply pleading ignorance leaves the issue for the Buyer’s inspection, where the chances of it blowing up the deal are high.

Assuming any Buyer gets that far . . . .

P.S.:  And citing the just-completed municipal point of sale inspection — which was silent on the matter — hardly absolves the Seller; such city inspections are notoriously superficial.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

Leave a Reply