Three Explanations for Sinking Soil (Two Good, One Bad)

Good home inspectors don’t just check out the interior of a home.

They also check the home’s exterior, and even the yard for clues that something “just isn’t right.”

That includes getting to the bottom (sorry) of a conspicuous depression in the yard — back or front.

Possible Culprits

The concern?

The soil could be settling due to a problem with the main sewer line — essentially, the return from the home to the street or alley.

When there’s a leak, the escaping waste water erodes the soil and causes the ground above it to sink.


To determine whether that’s the case, the Buyer needs to have a drain and sewer contractor run a camera through the sewer line (and yes, they — not the Seller** — usually pays for it).

Given the cost, about $150 (vs. $5,000 or more to correct a leaking main sewer connection), that’s a smart step for a prospective Buyer to take . . .

**If the sewer inspection finds a problem, the Seller typically pays for that — that is, if they want to keep the deal together.

P.S.: Two other, benign explanations for sinking soil: 1) a tree stump that was removed; or 2) a kids’ swimming pool in that location.

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.

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