When Your Buyer Needs a Well Inspection, Keep This in Mind
June 3, 2022
former Certified RE Instructor
At some point in your real estate career, you will likely have the opportunity to work with a buyer that wants to purchase a property that is wholly dependent on, or supplemented by, a domestic water well. If your client’s offer is accepted, they will need to have the well inspected along with having the home inspected. If you have spent any time at all in the real estate business, you are already experienced in recommending home inspectors for your client. But because homes with domestic water wells as their only source of potable water are not as common as those on public systems, you may not know three “well inspectors” to recommend.
True water well inspectors are very rare in Arizona. In fact, if they were to be defined by law, there is no such thing as a “well inspector” in our state. That is, performing well inspections is not a licensed trade as are the more common trades like: home inspectors, termite inspectors, septic tank inspectors and a host of other trades. That’s right, the single most important element of a home is having a suitable supply of drinking water, yet Arizona does not consider it important enough to standardize and/or regulate this trade.
So, who are you going to call? Just about your only choice in Arizona is to call a water well driller and/or pump installer because they are about the only ones with the knowledge and experience to perform a well inspection. Keep in mind that not all water well drillers install pumps, and not all pump installing contractors drill wells. Not all of either of these two trades perform water well inspections for the sale and transfer of real estate. There are a few reasons why they may not do a well inspection for your buyer.
Water well drilling and pump installing contractors can make more money performing their contracting trade than they can consulting for your buyer. A proper well inspection requires a few hours out of their day to travel to the property, operate and examine the equipment comprising the water system and a couple of hours or more in the office preparing the report. Then, if they wait until the closing to collect their fee, the entire process is simply not worth it to some contractors.
There’s one more thing about performing a well inspection for a person contemplating purchasing a real property that is totally dependent upon a water well. A water well inspection is not contracting, it’s consulting. What most buyers want to know about the well that will support their home is: how deep is the well, what is the water level in the well, how much does it pump and how long will it last. If the property happens to be served by a shared well, the buyer may want to know just what his or her rights and responsibilities under the terms of the sharing agreement. Water well contractors are typically not licensed to consult nor are they insured against misstatements or errors.
It is best that you inform yourself about real estate transactions involving private and shared water wells if you plan to be successful in the real estate busine. There are a few water well contractors around the state that are qualified and willing to perform well inspections and do a respectable job of it. Ask a more senior associate in your office for guidance or who they have had good experiences with so that you are ready when the time comes. Keep in mind that without regulatory guidelines there is no parity in what information will be contained the report. “Caveat Emptor.”
Gary is a former licensed real estate instructor for both the Hogan School of Real Estate and the Arizona School or Real Estate and Business in Scottsdale where he taught two continuing education classes about water wells and groundwater issues. He has published two e-books that are available through Amazon: Domestic Water Wells in Arizona, and Shared Water Wells in Arizona. He is now retired and living in Prescott, AZ.